This week I want to talk about another sport I love, hockey and how we came to be the “State of Hockey.” Now I want to clarify I am mainly a huge fan of the NHL (National Hockey League) but I do also appreciate all other kinds of hockey. However, my main love is the Minnesota Wild. I swear I am their number one fan. I know they can have their losing streaks and times when they just are not playing the way they should but I still love watching them and supporting them through thick and thin. I think it is mainly because I cannot skate in a straight line without falling on my butt let alone carrying a stick and shooting a small puck around the ice (I have no eye-hand coordination at all).
Now I have only been a diehard supporter of the Wild for 5 years and the reason I first started watching hockey is not the most orthodox way that most people start watching the sport. I mainly watched it because of the fighting (even though that barley happens anymore). However, once I actually went to a game in person, I fell in love with everything about the sport. Believe me when I say that seeing a game in the Xcel Energy Center is very exciting and you cannot help but get invested in the game. You will go there not really appreciating or knowing what to think about hockey and come out loving it. It is truly a wonderful sport. The players not only have to be really in shape but also quick, tough and smart or everything can unravel quickly. You also need a confident goalie in the net or “all hell will break loose” and the players will fall apart (this has been the main issue with the Wild for a bit now). The players make it look so easy and people tend to judge their abilities but I know for sure that I would not even be able to do half of what they do, let alone on skates. But I am not writing this post to talk up the Wild (even though I probably could since I love them so much).
Today I want to talk a little more about how Minnesota came to be the “State of Hockey” and provide a couple links to articles that can help everyone better understand Minnesota’s hockey obsession. Im not going to go into the history too much because you can find a lot of it online and I think the articles do a better job of showing the passion that most of us Minnesotans have for the sport.
Mainly the phrase “State of Hockey” was started as a marketing campaign by the Minnesota Wild when they first came to be. However, it quickly became a part of how we describe our state as a whole. A lot of people think the phrase many fits us so well because it can be really cold here in the winters and we have so many lakes so that make us the ideal place to play hockey. However, the history of hockey goes a little deeper than that. Hockey started in Canada in the mid 1800’s and immigrants brought the sport to the Iron range in the late 1800’s. it was something the kids of the workers could do and ultimately lead to the development of hockey teams.
Side-note: The first indoor rink was build right in Hallock, MN in 1894. It only cost about 400 dollars to build and skate sharpening only cost 35 cents.
The phrase “State of Hockey” not only celebrates our deep roots in the hockey community but also the many lakes we have in this state. According to an article by reporter Heather Brown of WCCO, it is a celebration of Minnesota’s official sport which is played by “an estimated 100,000 Minnesotans.” Heather also states that “almost two thirds of the 1980 Olympic ‘Miracle on Ice’ team was from Minnesota. One-third of the current Division One college players and 20 percent of the Americans in the NHL also hail from the state.” Which goes to show that we are truly the state that loves, lives and breathes hockey.
Even though we technically dedicate our whole (LONG) winters to hockey and other outdoor sports we also dedicate a full day in the winter to celebrating our love and appreciation for hockey. This is also known as “Hockey Day Minnesota” which is usually celebrated on a weekend in January or February. This year it was celebrated on the 17th of January. This is when there are high school, college and pro teams that play on a specially-made rink outside throughout the day. It is a lot of fun to go to and is a great way to honor the history of hockey.
Overall, Minnesota is not only the best place geographically for hockey in the U.S. but also emotionally because us Minnesotans tend to have a deep passion (some call it obsession) for our sports that no other state can really compare to. This can be seen especially in the hockey community, just go to one playoff game in the Xcel Energy Center and you will understand why we are called the “State of Hockey.”
If you want more information of any of the topics that I discussed in my post or just general history on the Minnesota Wild I have a few links you can check out.
http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nhl/minnesota/minwild.html (A good general information page for the Minnesota Wild and their history)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Wild (The Minnesota Wild’s wiki page, good source for more of their history and general information)
http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/01/13/good-question-how-did-minnesota-become-the-state-of-hockey/ (Article I referenced, has a good video about how Minnesota became the “State of Hockey”)
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?id=3905895 (Article about what Roger Godin [the Minnesota Wild’s team curator and former director of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame] thinks abo ut the “State of Hockey”)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_Day_Minnesota (General information and history of Hockey Day Minnesota)
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/643555-the-state-of-hockey-ranking-the-top-10-hockey-states-in-america (Fun slideshow about the top 10 hockey states in America…spoiler alert: guess who is number one)