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North Stars Jersey Will Help Unite Generations

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Before the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks met in the past three Stanley Cup Playoffs, before the likes of Mikko Koivu and Jonathan Toews forged a new rivalry between the Central Division opponents, the Minnesota North Stars and Blackhawks were the hot ticket.

"It was fun," Brad Maxwell said. "And it grew. When I first came in, in ’77 it was pretty good, but then as years progressed, so did the rivalry."

The ticket will get punched again in February when North Stars and Wild alumni team up to face former Blackhawks prior to the 2016 Stadium Series Game.

It may not be as physical or as nasty as the North Stars-Blackhawks battles from the 1980's, or the present-day Wild-Blackhawks matchups, but the game will still mean a lot more to many people and players.

"The fact that there are six or seven of us representing the Wild is really neat," Wes Walz said. "But for the most part, this is a great opportunity for the fans that are a little bit from an older generation to see the North Stars play against the old Blackhawks."

Once more, the iconic green 'N' will sit neatly on the chest of a hockey sweater. That alone will hold a greater meaning and impact than the Alumni Game in and of itself.

"I'm really looking forward to be able to wear that sweater," Andrew Brunette said. "I grew up kind of a North Stars fan, so to play with all those guys that I kind of grew up idolizing a little bit is a pretty special moment."

Brunette is an Ontario native, where the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL wore the North Stars colors. He got a chance to watch players like Don Beaupre, Dino Ciccarelli, and Brian Bellows.

"I kind of idolized them as a young kid," Brunette said. "So to play with them and get an opportunity to be on the same ice and the same team with them is pretty special."

It's why the game will not only unite fans from different generations, but players as well.

"Some of the other guys that are going to be on the ice, it's going to be really neat to be able to spend some time with some of the guys that are a little bit older," Walz said. "I've got all their hockey cards at home, and they're all still in a box in Calgary, so I was going to get my mom to Fed-Ex them out so I could get them all signed. It's just a real neat experience."

Walz will get a chance to team up with Mike Modano, whom he, " … chased around the rink for eight or nine years."

And there will be other mini-rivalries rekindled, some already on the minds of Minnesota alumni.

"Denis Savard, I played a lot of shifts against him," Neal Broten said. "He’s a tremendous hockey player. I always liked the way Denis Savard played, he had an incredible amount of talent, skated great, good with the puck, and just fun to play against.”

What will bring them all together is the jersey — some who have worn it, and some who have not — but everyone playing for Minnesota.

"We see it all the time now, the 'N,'" Tom Reid said. "Even in different buildings that we travel to, there are a lot of people that still die for the North Star logo to be a part of that.

"It’s a great logo, and it’s a great name. I know the Wild wanted their own identity but it’s going to be fun to see that and I’m sure the fans will appreciate it."

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