Eulogy: Remembering the 2014-15 Minnesota Wild
(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hated them the most. Here are Brad Lee and Laura Astorian from the St. Louis Blues blog St. Louis Game Time, fondly recalling the 2014-15 Minnesota Wild. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
By St. Louis Game Time
Here's a look back at the Minnesota Wild's season; or, as it's also known ...
The Devil and Devan Dubnyk
It is the last few minutes of Jan. 13, 2015. The setting is a late night diner in suburban Phoenix, Ariz. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk is alone and in an obviously a sour mood after allowing three goals on just 25 shots in a loss to the visiting San Jose Sharks. He blankly stares at his coffee hoping some answer will magically appear. At that moment he decides that it’s now or never to take a chance and turn his career around. Just then, a dark and mysterious figure walks in. There’s the faint smell of Sulphur and brimstone. This figure is Satan.
Satan: Devan! So good to meet you in person after trading some emails. Some folks used to know me as Norman Green, but my name is Beelzebub. But you can call me Bob. Why so down? This is the first day of the rest of your human life! This is the turning point, bro. From this moment, it’s all going to change.
Dubnyk: Hi. I can’t believe I’m having this conversation with you. I mean, I’m a good person. I try to be, anyway.
Satan: It’s not about being a good person, Dub. Get used to hearing that, by the way. Dubbbbbb. It’s going to catch on like wildfire. But forget about whether or not you’re a good person. It’s all about being a good goaltender. And you’re not, my man.
Dubnyk: Hey. Watch it, Bob. I’m still smarting over this loss tonight. And besides, I’m 9-5-2 with the freaking Coyotes. This team wasn’t built to win, it was built to contend for a good draft pick next year. Yet I’m still stopping more than 91 percent of the shots I’m facing. I’ve turned it around.
Satan: Call that just a taste. You think you did that on your own? The Edmonton Oilers have been looking for a franchise goaltender for a couple decades. They gave up on you. Your record your last season there was 11-17-2. Your goals-against average was 3.36. You couldn’t even hold down the backup job in Nashville where they expect next to nothing out of the second guy there. But that’s when I saw your potential. So I gave you a little taste of what I can do for you. Call it the Bob Bump. I sprinkle a little dark fairy dust, and BAM, you start playing like a true No. 1 NHL goalie. You like how you’ve felt so far this season? I can make it a reality for the rest of your career for the low, low payment of your everlasting soul. I’ve got some testimonials. You want to hear from some Red Wings, Yankees or Patriots? They’ll tell you what it’s like.
Dubnyk: That sounds drastic.
Satan: It’s just your soul, bro. Are you really even using it right now? Put it to work for you!
Dubnyk: Does that mean I’ll burn in Hell for eternity?
Satan: Fun fact: the average temperature in hell is lower than Phoenix. Tell you what I’m going to do, bro. I’m going to give you a bigger taste. We’ll call it rent to own. You sign over your soul for the rest of the regular season and you don’t have to commit beyond then. We’ll take your soul, put it in this velvet-lined box. You don’t like the results, you take it back, untorn and still mostly white as snow. You see what I can do for you and you’ll change your mind, I promise, bro.
Dubnyk: No risk? No strings?
Satan: I’m the Prince of Darkness! Trust me!
Dubnyk: I’m tired of losing. Let’s do it. Where do I sign…
Hours after the soul rental agreement is signed, Dubnyk is traded to the Minnesota Wild for a third-round draft pick. He immediately goes on a magical run that is hard to explain using modern day hockey metrics and tried and true scouting observations. With the Wild, Dubnyk goes 27-9-2 and posts a 1.78 GAA and stops nearly 94 percent of the shots that make it through the stingy Wild defense. He is suddenly the toast of the hockey world.
Fast forward. It is April 12, 2015. In a few weeks it will be announced that Dubnyk is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, the NHL’s award for the best goaltender of the year. But this day, Dubnyk (now affectionately called Dubbbbbb by the Wild faithful) is having a coffee and some Tim Bits. A dark and mysterious figure strides confidently through the restaurant and gracefully slides into the booth across from Dubnyk, trailing behind him similar smells as before.
Satan: DUBBBBBBB! I told you that name would catch on! Congratulations, Dub! We are a great team!
Dubnyk: Hey! Keep your voice down, Bob. I don’t want to advertise what’s going on here. I don’t think anyone would understand.
Satan: It doesn’t matter, my friend! I’m cool with you taking the credit. Always am. No one has to know I’m behind the scenes, pulling some strings, playing the master of puppets.
Dubnyk: I. Am not. A puppet.
Satan: NO! Of course not! You were a journeyman goaltender working on possibly his last NHL opportunity before signing next year to play in Siberia in the KHL before you met me. Nope, not a puppet.
Dubnyk: I… Ok, you’ve been a huge help. I’m grateful for what you’ve done.
Satan: Eternally, I hope, which leads me to our conversation this morning. Our deal is expired. I have your soul out in the car. It’s still locked away. But you want more, don’t you? You know what opportunity you have ahead of you? The playoffs start this week. You’re the seventh seed, so you’ve got a huge mountain to climb. Those St. Louis Blues look pretty good. They just beat you yesterday. They have balanced scoring and a hot shot young goalie. You’re going to need my help, Dub.
Dubnyk: I don’t know, Bob. Signing my soul over to you is kind of permanent. I’ve enjoyed the ride and I don’t want it to end, but maybe I can do it on my own. I can win without your help.
Satan: (snickering) Oh. Sure, Dubbbbb. I’m sure. You can do this without me, but let me play devil’s advocate for one minute and let me lay out the case against your team. First, you guys are deathly boring. Your best players are Zach Parise and Ryan Suter who signed with your team because they wanted to play hockey in front of their neighbors and family. What is this, “Leave It To Beaver?” And they don’t even spend all their money on hookers and blow! Horrible life decisions with those two. With Parise, I loved him when he played for my favorite team. But his ability to disappear during big games even defies my powers. And St. Paul makes the community in the “Truman Show” movie look edgy. You know how uptight these people are? In Minnesota you can only buy alcohol from liquor stores, not at the grocery store or at a gas station. The liquor stores close, get this, at 10 p.m. What the hell? And the worst part: liquor stores can’t open on Sundays. That’s just mean to Vikings fans who want to put themselves into a stupor every Sunday in the fall and their government won’t let them. You say I live in Hell, I say Hell is Minnesota all day Sunday and every night beginning with the late local news.
Dubnyk: This place can be a drag for sure, but I don’t mind because we’re winning.
Satan: Right, because you’re boring too. AND WINNING BECAUSE OF ME! Let me ask you this. Why weren’t there any Wild players invited on the Vikings sex boat trip a few years ago? Because no one wanted any of your boring players to come along. And let me tell you, when the spotlight is going to shine brightest in the playoffs, guys are going to fold without a little magic from me. Thomas Vanek has 20 playoff goals in 53 playoff games. I bet he doesn’t even score this postseason. Love Mikael Granlund’s hair, hate his game. That Nino guy was obviously born under a bad sign to get that unpronounceable last name. Chris Stewart looks more like Casper the Friendly Ghost than a playoff goal scorer. You know, Vanek and Stewart should be called the Bong Brothers for how much they get passed around the league. I bet Suter plays so much, he can be on the ice for nearly all the goals scored on the Wild. Mikko Koivu used to be pretty good. Matt Dumba never was. Charlie Coyle is not your Charlie Conway, and you better believe this team is way more like District 5 than the old home town Ducks. There won’t be a magic triple-deke to help Charlie beat these Hawks, Goldberg. You want me to go on?
Dubnyk: Man, that’s harsh.
Satan: I will say this. Matt Cooke used to be my favorite player in the league. He was my kind of guy. And then he went soft. SOFT I say! Started caring what people thought of him, didn’t like to be universally hated. I’ve been there, I get it. The moment he stopped embracing the dark and disturbed person he is on the inside was the moment he really sucked. Now I hate that guy too.
Dubnyk: Ok. I’m scared. Let’s do the deal for the first round, but I still want to be on the rent to own plan.
Fast forward to April 27, 2015. The day before, the Wild eliminated the Blues in six games. Other than a Game 4 performance that saw Dubnyk allow six goals on 17 shots in under 37 minutes of ice time, the goaltender was solid. The Wild’s team effort carried the series and pushed the team to the second round where they will face the Chicago Blackhawks. Same coffee shop, same kind of coffee and doughnut holes, in strolls Beelzebub.
Satan: DUBBBBBBB! You guys are on a roll! You made those Blues look like fools! Other than that one game where you really sucked, you were awesome, bro. Truly magical run coming together, my friend.
Dubnyk: Yeah, what the hell was up with that game? It was almost like you weren’t with me that night.
Satan: I wasn’t. I wanted you to get a taste of me pushing you out of the nest, baby bird. And you went splat, bro. Wasn’t pretty. But I came back. You think that puck bouncing in the goal off Jake Allen’s glove in Game 5 was a coincidence? Hell no. That was me letting you know I was back on the case. And you guys didn’t trail the rest of the series.
Dubnyk: Not cool, Bob. We had a deal. And you abandoned me. What if we take the Blackhawks to a Game 7 and you decide to take the night off? Besides, my teammates are playing so well right now, I don’t even think I need you.
Satan: Oh, Dub. So naïve. Look, I can’t make you do anything. Something about humans having free will that even I can’t change. The wording in our contract stipulates that ate the end of the term of the first round, either party has the right to terminate the deal and said soul is returned to its original owner. Is that what you want? Are you telling me you want your soul instead of the Stanley Cup?
Dubnyk: Yes, I want my soul. And with it intact, I’ll still win the Cup.
Satan: Your funeral. Here it is.
A box appears on the table, a puff of smoke a second later disappears the devil.
Fast forward to the night of May 7, 2015. At center ice in the Excel Energy Center, the eliminated in four games Wild are shaking hands with the victorious Blackhawks. Forward Patrick Kane makes his way through the line of vanquished Wild and gets to Dubnyk. He leans in close, his breath reeking of Sulphur and brimstone.
Kane: Great series man.
Dubnyk: You too. Good luck. Do you smell that?
Kane: You know I was worried there in the first round. Your deal with Dad made you guys look really good. I was sweating it because I know he’d let you beat me if you signed the contract. But then you wanted your soul instead of the Cup. And then I knew you didn’t want it enough. Have a nice summer.