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Enter the Bulldog

29 September 2013

Justin Fontaine has come back to Duluth, and he’s brought his new teammates with him: The Minnesota Wild. The Wild made their final roster moves today and Justin has made the final roster! Never mind the naysayers (ahem, Nathan Eide) who claim it won’t last. Justin has been working hard in Houston to develop the gritty side of his game, and he’s a much more complete player than he was at tUMD, when all he had to do was score, score, score.

The Wild will have an open practice at AMSoil from 10-11:30. In a cruel, ironic twist, I probably can’t go to the practice because of my class schedule. I might be able to make it down for about half an hour, but I’m not really interested in paying to park for 30 minutes of hockey practice. I will most likely also miss Norm and the Stanley Cup on Friday before tUMD’s game against UConn. Marvelous. I finally live in Duluth and can’t take advantage of two awesome hockey-related events in Duluth. I blame Wisconsin.

My relationship with the Wild is kind of on-again, off-again. Since I grew up during the period between the North Stars’ departure and the Wild’s inception, and I lived out of state during the 2003 playoff run (although I did celebrate the wins over the Avs in a dorm room on the U of I campus by devouring an entire pizza and drinking a plastic cup of wine with a cousin of Darby Hendrickson’s), I haven’t had much of an emotional stake in the Wild. I love Mikko, of course, and I enjoy when the Wild succeed, but a Wild loss won’t rip my heart out. I don’t feel the same way about the Wild as I do about the Bulldogs, or the Vikings, or the Twins. I’m not sure if I ever can, simply because I don’t have those childhood memories twined into my fandom.

I do want to become invested in the Wild, of course. I do need another sports team to raise my blood pressure, take my money, and contribute to my procrastination. If Fontaine can stick with the Wild and become a permanent part of the team, it might be the push I need. Or the Wild need. Somehow, if I become a true Wild fanatic, someone will ostensibly benefit. I am really excited to cheer for Fontaine again. In college hockey, our time with a player is limited to four years if we’re lucky (and we were with Fontaine. Very lucky.) To have a guy come back as a pro is a huge bonus. It’s obvious why teams try to get a couple local guys on the team: the fanbase has already invested in them. It’s why the Wild are throwing that aging, washed-up Goofer defencemen a bone.

We’ll see what the season brings, and what Fonzy can do to prove he belongs. And if I have to take out a kneecap here and there to keep him on the roster, well… we’ll just pretend I didn’t write that.

Welcome home, Justin! I’m sure you’re glad to be back!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jsiiter55 permalink
    29 September 2013 7:50 pm

    I think you might be short changing Justin’s time in Duluth. I seem to recall he was one of or maybe our best penalty killer. His work ethic combined with his talent is what helped him make the wild this year.

    • 29 September 2013 8:08 pm

      Yeah, I was simplifying a bit, but I do believe he’s taken his work ethic to a new level since joining the Wild organization. And most guys in his situation have to, because they’re used to being the elite scorers and are taking on a role they may not have been asked to play before. I think it’s a real testament to Justin, as well, if he’s able to break through to the show. So many guys in his situation haven’t been able to find that next level.

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