Sunday, February 6, 2011
If any of you have ever been to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, home of the Minnesota Wild, you have no doubt noticed the many jersey displays throughout the arena.
There are displays which highlight the jerseys used by the colleges in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) on the 200 level,
The jerseys of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) display by gate 2,
The WCHA display, updated for 2010-11 with new additions Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha
jerseys from the recent winners of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Awards for the top men's and women's players in college hockey near gate 4,
Jerseys from various men's Hobey Baker winners
The most recent women's Patty Kazmaier winner
the various St. Paul Saints minor league championship teams from 1919 to 1965 located around the club level and the St. Paul Athletic Club team jerseys are also featured on the club level.
1934-35 St. Paul Saints jersey
Also on the 200 level are jerseys which highlight junior and women's college hockey in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Junior Hockey League is represented by a Rochester Ice Hawks jersey
This St. Scholastica from Duluth jersey represents both the MIAC women's conference as well as the women's WCHA
Another display near Gate 3 rotates each year, and has featured the United States Coast Guard team of the World War II era, Minnesota's Olympic hockey players and Wild team captains, among other themes. This year the display celebrates top moments in the ten year history of the Minnesota Wild, including a jersey from the franchise's leading scorer to date, Marian Gaborik.
Marian Gaborik's Minnesota Wild jersey and a photo of him on the night he scored five goals
Also in the same display in the University of St. Thomas jersey of Minnesota native Steve Aronson, the first player the Wild ever signed to a professional contract. While he never actually played for the Wild, he holds a place of honor in the development of the franchise's early history.
Steve Aronson's college jersey, the Wild's first pro signing
One area which gets a lot of attention is the incredible Minnesota State High School Hockey program. One display case near gate 3 is dedicated to displaying the jerseys of the two most recent recipients of the Mr. Hockey and Ms. Hockey Award, which is the title bestowed on the outstanding male and female high school hockey players each year while the case next to it recalls the history of the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.
This display recalls the rich history of the legendary Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament
Despite all the previously mentioned outstanding exhibits, the signature display of the Xcel Energy Center, and the one which always gets the most attention, are the nearly 200 jerseys from all of the state of Minnesota's high school hockey programs, which ring the arena on the suite level in a multi-colored tribute to grassroots hockey in the state.
While the fact they are on the suite level might make them sound exclusive, that couldn't be farther from the truth, as the majority of them are visible from the many open vantage points throughout the arena.
The man responsible for these jerseys is Minnesota Wild historian (the only such position in the NHL), author, former director of the U. S. Hockey Hall of Fame and vice-president of the Society for International Hockey Research, Roger Godin. You can read an extensive interview with Mr. Godin at VintageMinnesotaHockey.com.
Today we present a lighthearted interview, in two parts, with Godin as he takes Minnesota Wild radio host Kevin Falness on a tour of the high school jerseys which ring the Xcel Energy Center.
To purchase either of Godin's hockey history books, follow the links below.
To purchase some of the historic jerseys on display at the Xcel Energy Center, please visit VintageMinnesotaHockey.com's online store.