Reusse's Reality: Playoff run awaits Wild a decade later
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
The Minnesota Wild started play in the fall of 2000. This is the 12th season for the St. Paul lads. The math is a bit off because the 2004-05 schedule was wiped out by a lockout.
The owners had so much fun with that one they tried it again for this season, finally settling with the well-tested negotiator, Don Fehr, on Jan. 12. This preserved a 48-game regular season and a full slate of Stanley Cup playoff series that will carry into late June.
There are eight spots awarded in each of the 15-team divisions, which makes it mathematically more difficult (53 percent to 47) to avoid the playoffs than to reach them. It will be even more of a challenge for the Wild to miss the playoffs a year from now, since it will be eight of 14 (or 57 percent) qualifying in the realigned Western Conference.
The Wild has beaten the odds and missed the playoffs for the previous four seasons. The Skating Ws were upset in the first round by Colorado, four games to two, in 2008. They also were outclassed, 4-1, by Anaheim in the first round in 2007.
The only spring fun we've had with the Wild came in 2003, when Jacques Lemaire's unlikely collection made shocking comebacks against both Colorado and Vancover, before getting swept by Anaheim in the Western Conference finals.
That's right. It has been 10 years since the Wild won a playoff series. And it has a total of three playoff wins in that decade.
Whenever this is mentioned, puck zealots are sure to send along a reminder that the Twins haven't won a playoff series since 2002 -- and they are currently on a record 12-game losing streak in the postseason. The silver lining there is that the Twins don't figure to have a chance to expand on that streak in the near future.
I'm also obligated to make this point when the Wild apologists come forth: Until 2012, a baseball team that reached the playoffs already was in the final eight. For the Wild to advance as far as the Twins did in the autumns of 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, the hockey club would be required to win a playoff series.
There's no doubt: The Wild has been given an easier ride than any pro franchise in the Twin Cities. For sure, the Ws haven't been given nearly enough credit for their ineptitude.
Fortunately, one person who recognized this was the owner, Craig Leipold. His fear of an ever-increasing number of empty seats inside St. Paul's big hockey room caused him to authorize GM Chuck Fletcher to spend $196 million for the free-agent exacta of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Tuesday's game vs. Anaheim was the start of the second half of this abbreviated schedule. The first period looked as if it was St. Thomas Academy vs. St. Cloud Apollo, the Wild was so dominant, and then the Ducks snuck up on 'em late for a 2-1 victory.
When you look at the standings, the playoffs are an uncertainty, but I don't buy it.
There's enough going on here, with the stars, Parise and Suter, and with the infusion of rookies, Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker, and the veteran role players, that this is more than a playoff team.
This is a team that's going to win a series or two. That will provide Leipold with some of that beautiful springtime cash that will help pay the $10 million apiece that he had to make as the first installments to Parise and Suter on Aug. 1.
You don't want to doubt me - the greatest hockey mind to ever come out of Murray Count - on these things. I was the one expert in North America who offered up the L.A. Kings as the winners of the Stanley Cup before the start of the 2012 playoffs.
Yes, we're in for another Stanley Cup playoff run, and after a decade, it will feel almost like the first time around along West 7th Street corridor of beverages and eats in St. Paul.
There will be a couple of major differences this time:
*A high-priced roster making the push, rather than Jacques Lemaire's ragtag group (Marian Gaborik being the exception) that refused to die when down 3-1 against both the superior forces of Colorado and Vancouver.
*The personalities of Lemaire, the wise and witty leader, and Mike Yeo, the young coach prone to much angst. I wanted to ask Yeo a couple of questions about the abilities of the 19-year-old defenseman, Brodin, after Tuesday's loss, but I was afraid Yeo's head was about to explode, he was so saddened by the Ducks' surprise attack to victory.
Jacques was a hoot on off days and even after games during the '03 run. It's going to be a stretch to get a smile out of anything Yeo says in the playoff run that awaits.