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Dutch Schnell: Moral Victories

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

altDutch Schnell, goalie-racer here, and as you can tell by peering at the photo to the left, I’m done settling for moral victories.

I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but you have to consider what I’ve been dealing with last week, when the Wild was a mere 4-0-0.

First off, the Dutchess of Schnell has been trash talking my ear off about how the Wisconsin Badgers 2006 National Championships in men’s and women’s hockey, and how the UMD men’s hockey team is going to be treated like the Gopher football team this weekend.

Then, the Minnesota Wild game entertainment crew keeps messing with my mind with their constant rescheduling of the next Great Goalie Race presented by Super America. First, they tell me it’ll be Opening Night. Then, I’m told to be ready to go on October 25 or October 27.

Today, I receive official word that the 2006-2007 debut of the Great Goalie Race will take place on Saturday, November 4. These mind tricks won’t work. I will be ready.

I can only surmise that the reason for the constant shuffling is to drive ticket sales and build anticipation for the racing premiere. To those of you who rushed out to buy tickets to a Wild game in anticipation of watching one of the previous scheduled races, I apologize to you on behalf of the Wild organization. Our bad.

You probably feel I should just look past all this mumbo jumbo because, after all, the Minnesota Wild is undefeated through six games. Life should be as sweet as a peach dipped in applesauce with a whipped cream topping.

The last time we commiserated and broke bread, the Wild was 4-0-0. We thought that was pretty doggone good, didn’t we? We thought, “Hey, we can lose the next 78 games, but we still had a good run, right?”

NYET!

Those days are gone my friends, and we are now in a day and age of six wins, no losses, no overtime losses, no shootout losses and absolutely zero moral victories.

 altalt
 Cale Hulse (the one on the right) is thankful for Minnesota export, Gena Lee Nolin, of Duluth, Minnesota.
We live in a great state. Sometimes, I call it “The State of Hockey.” It’s a state that’s given the world Charles Lindbergh, tons of iron ore, hot dish, Bob Dylan, a couple presidential runners-up, Spam, a ridiculously large shopping center with an amusement park and Gena Lee Nolin (you’re welcome Cale Hulse).

But if I have a complaint about the state I call my home, it’s that we are way too satisfied with moral victories when it comes to sports franchises. We haven’t had a professional sports franchise win a title since 1991, and somehow, we’re okay with this?

We make excuses like Corey Koskie’s ground rule double in Yankee stadium, or Sam Cassell’s knee, or Gary Anderson’s kick that…well, there was no excuse for that. It just plain stunk.

But if you’re a Minnesota sports fan, you know what I’m talking about in all three instances.

I admit, I’ve fallen into the trap myself with the Wild. When Gordon Bombay and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim swept Minnesota out of the 2003 Western Conference Finals, I blamed it on fatigue from two three-games-to-one rallies against Colorado and Vancouver.

And you know what? I felt better about everything, because it was a great run, and the players deserved to be applauded. After all, it was just a third-year expansion team.

But I don’t see this year’s club being satisfied with moral victories. Heck, these guys aren’t even satisfied with real victories!

I read both local papers today (I don’t play favorites because I love all of our columnists equally), and I read the following quotes from the mouths of Wild players. Here’s what they had to say about a 2-1 overtime win on Wednesday.

Pavol Demitra: “We have to play much better.”

Manny Fernandez: “That L.A. game, it should teach us a lesson that we have to come out stronger.”

Todd White: “I would have never thought that we’d be 6-0 with how we’ve played. We haven’t come close to scratching our potential yet.”

That’s what I’m talking about people! That’s the attitude we need in this state. Even our wins aren’t good enough. In fact, when the Wild finishes the season with 98 victories, I’ll be willing to wager that some players will point to Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime victory as the low point of the season.

They shouldn’t be too hard on themselves. After 16 years without a championship, we’ll take a Cup championship in this state, even if there are a few losses mixed in there. We’re pretty forgiving in this state. I should know, because…

…I am Dutch Schnell, and I…am a goalie racer.

Click here to view past columns by Dutch Schnell.

Click here to contact Dutch.

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