P.J.R.: Wild is the media darling among TC pro teams
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We're fortunate that the Wild and the St. Louis Blues were playing on the NBC Sports Network and not on the local outlet, Fox Sports North, on Monday night in St. Louis.
Zach Parise had a goal disallowed 30 seconds into the game when the puck was ruled to have been deflected off a high stick. There was a long review in the replay room in Toronto before the on-ice decision was upheld.
There was plenty of outrage in the Wild locker room and with the Minnesota media corps actually covering the game. But if Tony LaPanta, Mike Greenlay and the rest of the FSN crew had been on the air, I would have feared an outbreak of aneurysms ... they would've been so upset.
The Wild gave up a goal in the second minute on the way to a 3-0 loss to the Blues, although the best I could tell, it wasn't really our lads fault because they still were upset that Parise's goal had been waved off.
This is the Wild's 14th winter and 13th season (one being missed by a lockout) in Minnesota. Through that history, the team representing the Twin Cities in its second NHL go-round has received the most-favorable coverage of any major sports entity in this market.
I don't know if that's a reflection of the fact that Wild followers are the least-critical fan base in our midst, or if it's vice versa.
Do the fans develop an attitude based on coverage, or does media follow the attitude of the fans?
I'm not sure. I do know the Wild, even once it had outgrown the requirement to be called an expansion team, has benefitted from a far different approach in coverage than was received by its predecessors, the North Stars.
No one in the media shied away from taking shots at the North Stars. Then again, the fans were a less-genteel group, with far fewer families in the area. The hockey crowd at Met Center had standards. Those folks were ready to boo when the Stars went the first minute of a power play without a shot.
We didn't have the NHL for seven years after the North Stars left. Maybe that's the reason the Wild - win or lose (there are no more ties) -- receives the "best'' coverage in this market, not in volume but in positive tone.
How would I rate the four majors as far as being media darlings; again, based on the tone of coverage? Thusly:
1-Wild. Thirteen seasons and the Skating Ws are still waiting to get their first break from an NHL referee.
2-Twins. They take care of 150 days of programming on FSN. That makes them the most-important entity for the regional sports networks. And no matter how bad things get (and they have been horrendous for three years), there's a constant search for a silver lining before, during and after the telecasts.
As for print, Websites and sports talk radio, numerous shots have been taken at the Twins over the past three years, but probably not as many as have been deserved.
3-Vikings: FSN tries to kiss up to the Purple by running some weekly shows, but without actual games, it's not much of a presence. That leaves it to the other outlets, where there are few qualms about covering the Vikings with full-blown ridicule in a season such as this.
We love the Vikings when they succeed, and rip 'em when they fail, and that's the way it should be.
There's an exception, of course, in my guy Sid Hartman, a colleague at the Star Tribune and on HRSS (the highly-rated Sports Show, Ch. 23, 9:30 p.m. Sundays).
On both those outlets, Sid's angle last Sunday was that the tie in Green Bay really had been a bad blow to the Vikings' playoff chances.
How can you not love our legendary nonagenarian?
4-Timberwolves: Yes, they have earned every nasty rip they have taken in the local media. At the same time, the local media never miss a chance to take one. Even FSN doesn't slobber over itself to put the Wolves in a good light on a nightly basis.
Back to Sid for a couple of sentences:
I combined with the great man on an autobiography in 1997. He told the stories and I did the writing. In the process, Terri Faris, then the office manager in the Star Tribune sports department, gave me several hundred of the notes Sid had dictated to have sent to sports people mentioned or quoted in his columns.
Sid's genius was on full display, for there were alternatives to be found in these short messages to owners, GMs, coaches or athletes: 1) You're the greatest; 2) you got screwed; or 3) a combination of both.
Which is pretty much what we've been hearing about the Wild on a daily basis since the fall of 2000.
--PATRICK JAMES REUSSE.