The Minnesota Wild is a professional ice hockey team based in St. Paul, Minnesota. They began play in the 2000-01 NHL season.
Intense lobbying by fans of the departed Minnesota North Stars franchise brought this team into existence in the late 1990s, and the team was ready to play by the 2000-01 season. Like their predecessors, who ceased operations after the 1991-92 season and merged with the San Jose Sharks, the Wild wear a green and white uniform, accentuated with red instead of the yellow that the North Stars had used on their uniforms. The team logo is the head of a wildcat, in what appears to be a posture of attack. It's the dominant green and red thing on the front of Wild home and away jerseys, and is very similar to the Nashville Predators' logo.
The Wild play at the relatively new Excel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. Though their first two full seasons ended with the team in the cellar of their division, they had a surprising 2002-03 season, finishing second in their division and seventh overall in their conference, just behind the Colorado Avalanche, who would go on to be their first round playoff opponents. Their division usually fluctuates wildly from season to season, and also consists of the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks.
Since its inception, the team hasn't had a permanent captain. Instead, a rotating captaincy has been instituted; every month a different player wears the C on his jersey. As far as I know, this is unique among NHL teams.
Also in the 2003 playoffs, the Wild became the first NHL team ever to win the first two rounds of the playoffs after allowing the opposition to gain a 3-1 series lead in both the quarterfinals (against Colorado) and the semifinals (against Vancouver). They went on to get swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals (a series in which they were shut out in three out of four games; they scored only a single goal in that series thanks largely to the skill of Jean-Sebastian Giguere).
The Wild's game 7 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in the 2002-03 quarterfinals was legendary goaltender Patrick Roy's final NHL game before his retirement.
The Wild's longest-serving head coach thus far has been Jacques Lemaire, a former New Jersey Devils head coach (and 1995-96 Stanley Cup winner). He and the team's general manager, Doug Risebrough, worked together over the past couple of losing seasons to build the team into a Western Conference power, and by the looks of the 2002-03 season, they had succeeded. However, 2002-03 turned out to be a fluke, as the Wild finished last in their suddenly strong division and failed to make the playoffs in 2003-04. However, they did finish with a winning percentage of over .500 for the second straight season. No small feat for a relatively new team. Post-lockout, the team didn't fare in the 2005-06 season as well as expected; they finished dead last in in the Northwest Division, eight points behind the fourth place Vancouver Canucks (who also failed to make the playoffs in 2005-06). Both Lemaire and Risebrough retired following the 2008-09 season. Lemaire was replaced by former San Jose Sharks assistant coach Todd Richards whle Risebrough was replaced by Chuck Fletcher, lately of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
As a testament to the Wild's excellent defense, they allowed a league-best 191 goals during the 2006-07 regular season, six less than the Dallas Stars' next best total of 197. There were only four teams total that managed to stay under the 200-goals against mark, and all of them were in the Western Conference (Detroit, Minnesota, San Jose and Dallas).
The 2007-08 season was the team's best finish yet; they finished first in the Northwest Division and third in the Western Conference with 98 points, drawing the Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, they lost that series. The team's biggest highlight that season was probably Marián Gáborík's 5-goal performance against the New York Rangers on December 20.
The following season, 2008-09, they played a tight game all season and won 40 games, but failed to secure a playoff spot.
Complete team statistics (update at the conclusion of each season):
|2000-01||82||25||39||13||5||68||168||210||5||14||Not in playoffs
|2001-02||82||26||35||12||9||73||195||238||5||11||Not in playoffs
|2002-03||82||42||29||10||10||95||198||178||2||6||Lost conference finals
|2003-04||82||30||29||20||3||83||188||183||5||10||Not in playoffs
|2005-06||82||38||36||--||8||84||234||215||5||11||Not in playoffs
|2008-09||82||40||33||--||9||89||219||200||4||10||Not in playoffs
|2009-10||82||38||36||--||8||84||219||246||3||9||Not in playoffs
|2010-11||82||39||35||--||8||86||206||233||3||12||Not in playoffs
|2011-12||82||35||36||--||11||81||177||226||4||15||Not in playoffs
Team colors: Forest green (primary: home jersey), white (primary: away jersey), black (trim), and crimson (features).
#1 - "For Wild Fans"
#99 - Wayne Gretzky (league-wide retirement)