Homegrown Hockey in the State of Hockey

Randall GranlundContributor IJanuary 8, 2011

Minnesota Golden Gopher Hockey
Minnesota Golden Gopher Hockey

Playing GM from your sofa is fun, relaxing and much easier than the job description of Mr. Chuck Fletcher, the Minnesota Wild's GM.

As a local small business owner I often think of marketing, my wheels are often spinning on what would appeal to the mass. Now that its the season of hockey and I simply cannot get enough of it my two worlds are colliding—the business of hockey.

Imagine you're a bartender, but not just any old bar tender, you specialize in pina colada's in a bar you own on a beautiful Hawaiian resort surrounded by big beautiful pineapple trees.

And not only were they big and beautiful they tasted exquisite to the locals and only the locals could really tell the difference, most of these trees were planted and cared for by the locals and they came by the droves to experience the truley unique delicacy. Would you buy your pineapples from Singapore or Thailand, sit back and watch your product ship off to the highest bidder?

There is something incredibly unique about Minnesota hockey, not just because we produce the most DI or NHL players than any other state in the nation—it's unique because it is ours.

I love high school hockey, I love it so much that I wish there was a local television station dedicated to it, our high school state tournament is beyond comprehension for a non-local and impossible to explain to them just how big the event is. I love watching our kids develop and move onto the college rankings.

I'm a Gopher fan, so naturally I am always hoping they commit to the U of M, but I support them wherever they go and if it isn't the Gophs I hope it's UMD, Mankato, Bemidji or St. Cloud.

And I'm not alone; I'd venture to guess I'm in the vast majority of Minnesota Hockey fans.

After Norm Green did the unthinkable and moved our North Stars, it took me a decade to become an NHL fan. I'm not alone in that regard either. And I have yet to fully embrace the Wild as I did the MINNESOTA North Stars.

I have a small piece of advice to the Wild organization—a fool-proof way to reach the hearts of all Minnesota hockey fans.

When it makes sense to bring those pineapples home, and if it makes your pina colada taste as good as it once did, do not hesitate for a minute.

- Bring Zach Parise home! The marketing will make up any monetary difference and the Wild has plenty to offer in a trade.

- Start signing the likes of Rau, Michaelson etc. If its a small reach then so be it, and let them develop at the U (or wherever they are committed)  I'm not talking about every player that comes from MN, I am talking about the clear cut standouts—Mario Lucia, Kyle Rau, etc.

- Win a Stanley Cup, something the North Stars never did.

Just imagine for a second the marketing hype that would surround the Wild if they started using more local talent. Imagine the fever pitch if Parise came home.

Minnesota is hockey and Minnesota develops plenty of talent. The Wild doesn't have to look beyond borders like almost all the other NHL teams in the USA. That in itself would be a huge marketing tool and Minnesotans would go absolutely nuts over it. It's unique, it's incredible and it's homegrown.