Brian Murphy / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL -- Jason Zucker strolled into Suite 25 sporting a glittery suit jacket, a recognizable grin and a full heart Wednesday night, Nov. 21, as dozens of kids and their parents welcomed their favorite Minnesota Wild forward. They had just watched Zucker assist on the winning goal against the Ottawa Senators at the Xcel Energy Center, and now he was right there in the flesh inviting back slaps, high-fives and autographs. “Hey, how’s everybody doing?” Zucker asked. Silence but for the proverbial chirping crickets.
MINNEAPOLIS — Struggling Twins slugger Miguel Sano took a seat Thursday, June 7, when first baseman Logan Morrison returned to the lineup after missing three games because of back spasms. Bench coach Derek Shelton, addressing the media pregame at Target Field while Molitor attended his son's elementary-school graduation, said the move was more about giving Sano a rest and letting him avoid a tough matchup against Shields than anything punitive.
ST. PAUL — Wild owner Craig Leipold performed the politically convenient task of nudging general manager Chuck Fletcher out the door Monday, April 23, after another short-circuited postseason. That was easy, almost too easy, with Fletcher's contract expiring and no need for a public execution. The rock-breaking has just begun. Six consecutive playoff appearances has been good enough to keep Xcel Energy Center filled, but only two first-round series wins and 16 losses in Minnesota's last 20 postseason games ultimately cost Fletcher his job.
MINNEAPOLIS—Fourteen years is an eternity for catharsis, way too long for any professional fan base, let alone the forsaken Timberwolves faithful. Minnesota recently ended the NBA's longest-running playoff drought with a Game 82 overtime victory, but all that did was buy the Wolves entry to the annual postseason party. After one disheartening loss and another lopsided defeat to the relentless Rockets in Houston, their return to Target Center on Saturday night, April 21, foreshadowed more of an Irish wake than a franchise awakening.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins finally succumbed to Mother Nature's cold hand. Sunday afternoon's game against the Seattle Mariners at Target Field was postponed in anticipation of another round of snow in the Twin Cities. The game will be made up at 6:10 p.m. May 14 — a mutual off day for both teams. Cold weather and snow have dominated the weather since the Twins returned home from their season-opening road trip to Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Field conditions prevented them from having batting practice at Target Field or PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
APPLE VALLEY, Minn.—Gable Steveson has won 167 consecutive matches, and another victory lap at the high school wrestling state tournament would leave the Apple Valley star with the highest winning percentage in prep history before he takes his heavyweight prowess to the University of Minnesota.
DETROIT — The Vikings found a way to rid themselves of those pesky Lions, cold turkey. Stick a fork in Detroit. The NFC North is the Vikings' to lose after their 30-23 closing argument Thursday on the national stage at Ford Field. They are hunting bigger game now, like a first-round postseason bye and potential home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Feast on Case Keenum playing with the guts and moxie of a big-moment quarterback thanks to innovative and prescient play calling by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
MANKATO, Minn. — The "No Fun League" has been downgraded in 2017 to the sometimes fun league after rules governing on-field celebrations were relaxed to allow NFL players to show a little more leg. As usual, how much leg depends on how far players push the envelope. Players can celebrate in groups and on the ground now while also using the football as a prop. But any celebration "deemed offensive, violent in nature or that uses any other object as a prop" can still draw a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The suddenly No. 1-ranked Gophers softball team was so certain it would be among the 16 schools to host an NCAA regional this weekend that travel plans were nonexistent — until Sunday night's selection committee snub. "Shame on us for assuming anything," Minnesota coach Jessica Allister said Wednesday, May 18. The Gophers scrambled to book their flight and hotel rooms for Tuscaloosa, Ala., where they arrived Tuesday night.
MINNEAPOLIS — Roger Goodell presenting the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft and Tom Brady on Sunday would be the photo-op of the millennium if the New England Patriots owner and quarterback win Super Bowl LI a year after the NFL commissioner punished both for a ball-deflating scandal. Unless the upstart Atlanta Falcons upset the dynasty and let the air out of that bloated narrative once and for all.