Respect is Earned

It is no accident that fan favorites are not just the guys who put the puck in the net, but are also the guys who work the hardest, hit the hardest, and punch the hardest. Like any Wild fan, my favorite player for the longest time was Marian Gaborik. But that all changed on April 11, 2008 when I witnessed this play: (2:40 mark)

Although the play stands out as more epic in my mind then it looks re-watching it now, it was Mikko Koivu’s hard work on this play to get the puck and move it that lead to the winning goal. It was this play and his continued hard work on the ice that lead to many fans already claiming him as the captain long before Todd Richards finally made it official.

This past week another member of the Minnesota Wild earned my respect.

Now while Steve Ott has been accused of a lot during his time in the league, I don’t think this was a dirty play. I do think he overstayed his welcome on top of Harding and Harding was completely justified in his reaction. But more importantly Harding showed more fire than the entire team had up until that point. And, I believe this is why he will succeed as a starting goalie in this league. I only regret that due to Backstrom (and I am a huge fan of Backs) it will likely happen with another team.

Respect Lost

Although its popular in NHL circles to bash the Penguins and Crosby, I have never been party to it. In fact as Mario Lemieux was always one of my favorites as a kid, I have always had an outside admiration of the team. And once the Devils were eliminated last season I enjoyed the heck out of cheering for them all the way to the Cup. However in their game against the Wild, Sergei Gonchar decided to take his frustration about getting hit by Clutterbuck out, by leaving his feet and taking a shot to Clutterbuck’s head.

Make no mistake, this hit was dirty and should have resulted in a suspension. But more than losing respect for Gonchar, I have also lost respect for some pen fans who try and justify this hit because it was on Clutterbuck. I like hard hitting hockey and I like fighting, and Cal Clutterbuck does both (the former much more than the latter) but he does them within the rules of the game. (He has 20 PIM in 43 games this season). Colin Campbell admitted the hit was dirty, but justified it because it was on Clutterbuck.

And just for fun here’s a classic. To this day I have such a dislike of Matthias Ohlund, that I can’t even bring myself to sign him in the video game world, and I have signed both Avery and Ott at different times.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

Because I want to end on a positive note, congrats to Jamie Langenbrunner for being named Captain of Team USA. I dubbed him Captain America after this performance: (Zach Parise has also taken to calling him this, and though I’d like to believe I started it, its hardly original)

Even as a Wild fan I was cheering for Langer when he was going for number 3. I have no doubt he will represent his country well at the Olympics.

-BHD

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