Sunday, October 11, 2009
On this date in 2000 the Minnesota Wild made their home debut at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The first ever Wild game came on the road in Anaheim against the Mighty Ducks in a 3-1 loss on October 6th, followed the next night by a 4-1 defeat in Phoenix versus the Coyotes.
Four days later the team would begin a new era of NHL hockey in Minnesota as they would host the Philadelphia Flyers in their brand new arena.
Following the retirement of jersey #1 in honor of the fans, NHL hockey faced off for the first time in Minnesota in seven seasons following the departure of the Minnesota North Stars for Dallas, Texas.
Peter White of the Flyers opened the scoring at 13:41 of the first period, beating Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez. It would take less than four minutes for Minnesota native Darby Hendrickson to score the first Wild goal at home in franchise history at 17:19 with an assist from the enigmatic Maxim Shushinski, who would last just 30 games in the NHL before returning home to Russia.
Both teams would be held off the scoreboard for the majority of the second period until the Wild's first ever draft pick Marian Gaborik would score a power play goal, the first in Wild history, during the last minute of the second, at 19:05, giving the Wild a 2-1 lead after two despite being outshot 10-3 in the period.
White would get his second of the game at 5:43 of the third to pull the Flyers back into a tie before the hard working Wes Walz, back in the NHL after four seasons in Switzerland, would shock the Flyers with a shorthanded goal at 9:12. Eric Desjardins would even the score at 3-3 with a goal just over a minute later at 10:37. Each team would survive a power play chance for the other club before regulation time would expire with the teams deadlocked at 3.
Overtime would see the Wild kill off another penalty as the Flyers would outshoot the Wild 7-2 in the extra period but the game would end still tied.
Fernandez would make 36 saves against 19 for the Flyers Brian Boucher in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,827.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance and was quoted as saying "Minnesota and hockey is a no-brainer." as well as "I'm sorry we left. Bringing pro hockey back here was by far the right thing to do."
The Wild would finish their first season 25-39-13-5 for 68 points, last in the Northwest Division. They would be led in scoring by Scott Pellerin with 39 points in 58 games before trading him, along with several other veteran players at the trade deadline. Gaborik, Walz and Hendrickson would lead the team in goals with 18 apiece.
Today's featured jersey is a game worn CCM 2000-01 Minnesota Wild Cam Stewart jersey. This jersey is a "set one" jersey, meaning it was worn in the Wild's home debut at the Xcel Energy Center, the first time the team would wear their white jerseys in a regular season contest.
Stewart, started his NHL career with the Boston Bruins after being drafted in the third round out of the University of Michigan, playing 83 games over four seasons, before playing two seasons for the Houston Aeros of the IHL, helping them win the Turner Cup in 1999.
1999-00 would see Stewart play 65 games with the Florida Panthers before being claimed by the Wild in the 2000 Expansion Draft. He would play 54 games for Minnesota in 2000-01 but would have his playing career cut short by a concussion in training camp before the following season, which would cause him to miss the entire year before announcing his retirement in June of 2002. His final NHL totals would show 202 games played, 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points as well as an additional 13 playoff games with a goal and three assists.
Our first video today is the introductory video played before each Wild home game at "The X", featuring scenes of hockey from around the state throughout history.
This next one is a version of the Minnesota Wild anthem, this time featuring the lyrics to the song, along with more footage of hockey from around the state which includes Darby Hendrickson's first ever home goal for the Wild versus Philadelphia.
Following the opening video, each game is started with an honorary "Let's Play Hockey" chant. The first example is Natalie Darwitz showing how it's done, followed by the Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson with his own, uh, creative interpretation of the three word chant.
Last up is "A Day in the Life" with Hendrickson, filmed during the Wild's first season on the date of the Dallas Stars first game back in Minnesota since the franchise relocated to Texas, a stunning 6-0 thrashing of the Stars by the expansion Wild.