As a Colorado Avalanche fan site, we here at Mile High Sticking (ok I, here, at Mile High Sticking) consider it our duty to occasionally consider the Minnesota Wild. This team, after all, has posed itself as a modern-day rival for the Avs.
A while back I remember reading — and writing — about how current Wild winger Zach Parise accepted a very lucrative contract with the Minnesota Wild. However, the forward had been offered even more lucrative contracts from other teams. He chose to play for the Wild because they were the team from his home state of Minnesota.
Now, you could write that choice off as a one-off, a single anomaly of a mama’s boy. (Parise’s father did pass last season — rest in peace, Parise Sr.) However, other players currently on the roster have historical ties to Minnesota. Defenseman Nate Prosser and center Ryan Carter, who both grew up in Minnesota, just willingly re-signed with the team.
The phenomenon is not relegated to Minnesota natives. Left wing Thomas Vanek and center Erik Haula both played for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. (One wonders — what makes them golden?) Wild right wing Justin Fontaine played for the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
Now we’ve got defenseman Mike Reilly, who’s both from Minnesota and played for the Minny Golden Gophers, who eschewed his draft team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, in favor of signing with the Wild.
This proclivity for signing with the Minnesota Wild just because of tenuous ties to the state intrigued us enough here at Mile High Sticking that we decided to invite special guests to investigate this phenomenon. Specifically, we asked Fox Mulder and Dana Scully of the X Files to examine the matter. After all, they’re experts in all things bizarre.
Fox Mulder’s Analysis
Fox Mulder considered the long list of NHL players choosing to play for the Minnesota Wild. “This is a perplexing phenomenon,” he admitted.
He continued, “Professional athletes of a certain caliber occasionally select a chosen organization for which to play. However, their selections are typically based on pecuniary matters. However, I must note that truly competitive professional athletes opt for teams with whom they might arise as victors of a championship.”
Mulder observed an image of the Minnesota Wild’s empty trophy case. “Clearly that is not the case here.”
Fox Mulder decided to travel to Minnesota. After looking around the corn and sugar beet fields, he remarked, “This phenomenon is not born of aesthetics.”
Mulder decided to delve deeper into the matter. He headed for the Mall of America. For a while he got distracted by the rides in the center of the mall. After consuming some cotton candy and perusing the suit racks at Dillard’s, he acknowledged, “It is possible these players are seduced by the purely commercial and base pleasures represented by the so-named ‘largest mall in America’.”
At that point his partner, Dana Scully, requested he return to Washington, D.C., to investigate the matter more from a scientist’s point of view.
Dana Scully’s Analysis
Dana Scully was looking at a slide under a microscope when we met up with her. We think it was blood — possibly Erik Haula’s blood — on the slide. However, Scully did not divulge this information. Instead, she told us of her findings.
“I believe I have evidence of a mutation of the toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is responsible for the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis.”
Mulder frowned. “Isn’t that the disease that makes mice like cats?”
Scully responded, “Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that causes flu-like symptoms in the infected. Acute toxoplasmosis can cause swollen lymph nodes and muscle aches. These symptoms can last for over a month. Considering the physical nature of hockey, it’s possible these players were infected with a mutation of the parasite but failed to recognize the symptoms. They likely chalked it up to intense competition.”
Mulder persisted, “But isn’t toxoplasmosis the disease that makes rodents unafraid of their natural predator, felines?”
Scully answered, “Yes, toxoplasma gondii removes rodents’ innate fear of cats.”
Mulder asked, “Is it possible that this mutation of the parasite causes otherwise sensible athletes to want to play for the Minnesota Wild?”
Scully agreed, “It’s possible, Mulder. We’ve seen stranger things.”
After finding the mutant parasite in Erik Haula’s blood (we think), Mulder and Scully decided to watch a Minnesota Wild game. They happened to catch Game 3 against the Colorado Avalanche.
As the two FBI agents watched Tyson Barrie limp off the ice while Matt Cooke chortled gleefully, Scully expressed, “I think this phenomenon is a conspiracy wrapped in a plot inside an agenda. It’s clear this team is not right, Mulder. They’re just not right.”
Mulder, however, had developed his own theory about the phenomenon of NHL players choosing to play for the Minnesota Wild:
"“Is this evil something that crouches in all of us? It has appeared again and again through the generations. Is this monster born of each of us, lurking in our souls, bidding each of us to do its bidding? We do what we can to destroy the evil inside us.”"
I must admit, we here at Mile High Sticking are rather hoping it is not an evil living inside all of us. There’s none of us here who want to up and move to Minnesota to even cheer for the Wild.
And if it’s some mutation of toxoplasma gondii causing otherwise rational folk to desire playing for that team — well, we’re hoping Erik Haula didn’t pass it on to Erik Johnson when the two tangled during the 2014 season opener.
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