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Dutch Schnell: Missing "Sega Al"

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Dutch Schnell, goalie racer here in "The Lou," home of the Billikens, a bitter populace of baseball fans, and the St. Louis Blues, the hockey team that our beloved Minnesota Wild will be facing on Saturday night. On Sunday, we are off to Ferris Bueller's hometown of Chicago to take on the Blackhawks, and Wild Original, Jim Dowd and his tiny breezers.

Before I touch (but refuse to make a prediction) on the impending showdown with the Blues, I'd like to convey my sadness upon learning of the retirement of one of the greatest video game hockey players of all time, Al MacInnis.

MacInnis played nine years for the Blue Notes, part of a 23-year career that saw him amass 1274 points in 1416 NHL games. During the 1990-1991 season, the blueliner from Inverness, Nova Scotia, racked up 103 points on 28 goals and 75 assists. That may seem like a substantial output, until you consider how many points he scored for me during my  season with St. Louis in Sega Genesis "NHL 96."

"Sega Al" was as dominant as it got in video game play among defensemen. There were two options when you launched a MacInnis slap shot in "NHL 96": you either scored, or broke a pane of glass behind the goal, one of life's simple pleasures in the same vein as knocking tarantula-breeding Egg Olson head-over-tea-kettle into the players bench during a goalie race.

There was nothing more satisfying than holding down the 'C' button, aiming for the upper corner and uncorking a canon slap shot that would richochet off the top right post and into the net behind Winnipeg's Bob Essensa. When he manned my point, MacInnis notched 439 points on 221 goals and 218 assists, an amazing accomplishment considering that he also led my team in fights and penalty minutes.

MacInnis, now in charge of "Special Assignments" for the Blues, is a surefire Hall of Famer, but more importantly, he has already been named to the "Dutch Schnell Sega Genesis All World Team" along with: Jeremy Roenick of the Chicago Blackhawks (Who can forget his immortalization in the classic comedy, Swingers?), Alexander Mogilny of the Buffalo Sabres, Cliff Ronning and Pavel Bure of the Vancouver Canucks, Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins, and Patrick Roy of the Montreal Canadiens.

Derek Plante and Pat Lafontaine get honorable mention for their always productive performances when inserted on the same line with Mogilny during my run to the Cup with the Sabres. They were the Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale to Mogilny's Larry Bird.

Because I sense the majority of the State of Hockey Legion staring blankly at the screen and wondering what in the name of Kai Nurminen I'm talking about (especially the youngsters who don't understand the importance of Sega Genesis in the evolution to the Playstation), I will digress.

I only bring up my feelings for "Sega Al" because I am just so thankful that the Wild will not have to face the video game wonder on Saturday night. It would be hard to root against a guy who brought me so much joy in my formative goalie-racing years. Plus, a typical game for "Sega Al" would have made for a long night for the Manny Fernandez/Dwayne Roloson combo, or as I refer to them, Dwanny Feroloson.

Meanwhile, the Wild is starting to resemble a video game superpower club, like the "Sega Red Wings." Their games remind me of me playing "NHL 96" against my grandpa, Artie Schnell. In other words, the Wild (Dutch) keeps racking up goals while the opponents (Grandpa Artie) look disoriented and repeatedly ask "Was that my team or yours that just scored?"

Lately, it's been the Wild scoring goals like it's going out of style, and it's been the opponents inside the Xcel Energy Center looking bewildered. But this weekend will be tougher. The State of Hockey legion will not be in the seats to will the team to victory. And the Albert Pujols/Jim Edmonds combo always poses a threat. But I'm optimistic about the chances of the boys in Forest Green and Iron Range Red, even in enemy territory.

From the base of the Gateway Arch, I'm Dutch Schnell, and a goalie racer.

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