As hard as it is to believe for a region that calls itself the “state of hockey,” there’s a remarkable amount of restraint greeting the area’s first legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup, the championship of the National Hockey League.
The Minnesota Wild were (don’t speak of subject/verb agreement where this team is concerned) the class of the league in the second half of the season, and while the road to the championship will be a difficult one (psst: It always is), it’s a legitimate shot nonetheless.
So why isn’t Minnesota a little more excited?
The Washington Post may have a clue.
It calculated the won-lost percentage since 2005 in cities that have franchises in the four major sports leagues. There are only 12 of them. Guess who’s at the bottom?
Minnesota’s .462 winning percentage is barely behind the District of Columbia’s .468.
Although we like to think of ourselves as collective losers — more on that in a moment — this distinction is almost entirely the result of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a barely legitimate organization playing in a questionable “NBA city.” That is to say: Almost nobody cares.
True, the Twins are well on the way to a fifth consecutive 90-loss season, but that’s still a .444 winning percentage. Not great, but certainly far superior to the NBA team in town, whose fans celebrated a New York Knicks victory last night because it made Minnesota the losingest team in the league.
What have you got, District of Columbia?
What propels the city’s winning percentage? The Minnesota Wild, a team that doesn’t play in … well, you know where.
Boston has the highest winning percentage. It also has five championships in that time. Their hockey team, by the way, will watch the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV. So there’s at least that.
But through its history, although Celtics dominated the NBA and the Bruins had success in the NHL, Boston was a baseball town. And until they broke decades of losing by winning a World Series in 2004, Boston sports fans identified with trauma. Their misery was also the source of their happiness.
Now? All they’ve got is championship parades in blizzards.
Losing as our proud identity is our lot in Minnesota now. Our misery binds us.
As Herb Brooks once famously said, “this is our time.”
Embrace the losing. Right after the Stanley Cup parade.