Winter sports season is brutalPublished 6:24am Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Now that the extreme cold is over, it is now time to get depressed about …the winter professional sports teams.
The last time I used a column to talk sports, the Twins had just completed a third straight bad season, and the Vikings were on their way to a bad season (but not bad enough, since there are seven teams that will get a chance to draft a franchise quarterback before they do).
My hope was that the Timberwolves and Wild, with young stars and some nice moves in the last couple offseasons, would become playoff caliber teams that would be exciting to watch, and make the brutal winter more enjoyable.
So much for that.
I guess I should have known better.
The Wolves, as it turned out, have one legitimate star — Kevin Love. And he complains a lot, and may not stick around after his contract expires in 2015.
The other player many thought would be a star, Ricky Rubio, can’t shoot, and has become a liability when he’s not passing the ball.
Everyone else is basically a role player, and considering the team’s lack of chemistry, it doesn’t look like they’re playing their roles very well.
So after all the preseason hype, the Wolves, hovering around .500 in the competitive Western Conference, are going to have to play well to simply make the playoffs or go back into the lottery again.
And if that excites Wolves fans, think again.
The Wolves have never won the NBA draft lottery (which I’m still convinced is rigged).
Where they’ve picked, they’ve done an awful job.
I’ll give you Love, but that was five years ago in 2008. In 2009, the Wolves had the fifth pick and selected Rubio, whom I have already talked about. He’s the best of the rest.
They picked Jonny Flynn with the sixth pick that year, and he’s out of the NBA.
In 2010, they picked Wes Johnson, and have traded him away for virtually nothing.
In 2011 they picked Derrick Williams, and traded him for a nobody.
Lottery picks are supposed to yield players like Kevin Garnett. Or LeBron James. Or Kobe Bryant. Superstars.
At least the Wolves should have received starters for them. We got Love, Rubio and a lot of nothing.
In other words, if we go .500 this year, the team doesn’t gel around Love next year, and Love leaves the season after that, we’re basically doomed to bad professional basketball for the foreseeable future.
The Minnesota Wild aren’t quite as depressing, but they certainly haven’t lived up to the hype either.
Two summers ago, they spent a boatload of money on wing Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, both of whom were considered to be NHL all stars.
Paired with a group of youngsters and a couple of solid goalies in Josh Harding and Nikolas Backstrom, the Wild should have been good this season.
Wild at 24-17-5 (5 meaning overtime losses, which you get points for, for some strange reason), despite winning four games in a row, are battling to hang onto the eighth playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference.
Of course, Parise has been injured, the youngsters have played like, well, youngsters, and the pre Parise-Suter nucleus of the Wild showed what kind of a team they would have been had Suter and Parise not signed — awful.
All is not lost in Minnesota winter sports land.
Maybe Rubio finds his shot, the Wolves start clicking and make the playoffs, Love decides to stay and the team becomes an annual contender.
Maybe the Wild’s hot streak continues, the youngsters get the confidence, and they become an annual contender.
There’s always hope.
And that’s what the ticket sellers sell.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s Publisher. Email him at email@example.com