Tom Powers column: Minnesota full of offseason champions again
ST. PAUL -- We are the offseason champions of the world! Again.Minnesota teams may not perform well during their respective seasons. In fact, the Twin Cities has acquired a rather gloomy sports reputation. That's because people don't understand. ...
ST. PAUL - We are the offseason champions of the world! Again.
Minnesota teams may not perform well during their respective seasons. In fact, the Twin Cities has acquired a rather gloomy sports reputation. That’s because people don’t understand. It’s when play stops that the entertainment begins around here. And this has been a particularly fantastic offseason.
After a miserable winter, folks are trembling with excitement. They are pulling out the chips and dip and staring at blank TV screens in anticipation of watching wondrous deeds. They are perusing their bank statements trying to come up with enough dough for season tickets. And they are queueing to purchase officially licensed team merchandise.
Just look at how unabashedly proud we are of getting Tom Thibodeau, Bruce Boudreau and Mark Coyle. We clearly are in first place in terms of offseason acquisitions. The rest of the world is inhaling the exhaust from this great Minnesota sports locomotive. We’re No. 1!
Thibodeau is going to turn the Timberwolves from serial losers to the envy of the NBA. Boudreau is going to shake up the underachieving Wild and drive them to the top. After several years of scandal and failure, Coyle will restore Golden Gopher athletic glory.
This is our time. We are the boss. If only the local teams didn’t actually have to compete again.
Don’t get me wrong. I think these were good hires. Some real movers and shakers were brought on board. But I also was convinced that signing Rick Adelman to coach the Wolves a few years ago was a real coup. And Paul Molitor. Remember the excitement his hiring generated the offseason before last? That was great fun. That was one of our better offseasons. The Twins also inked Ervin Santana then, too.
We don’t just excel in coaches and administrators during the offseason. There are spine-tingling player transactions as well. Bringing Kevin Garnett home, for example. Stealing Ricky Nolasco from the Dodgers. Signing Thomas Vanek to a big contract. All created warm feelings inside as we strutted our stuff.
But this? This offseason even ranks above the one four years ago when the Wild forked over a zillion for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. That thrill lasted all summer long and it was a glorious time as the hockey world looked up to us. And then, when competition began, the Wild made it all the way to the quarterfinals.
Now some cynics would advise caution. Don’t go overboard, they’d say. Stuff happens. And there have been colossal disappointments in the past. The balloons start popping pretty quickly. To that I’d say: Hogwash! Live it up. Nobody does the offseason like Minnesota. Everybody else is just jealous because we’re dominating.
The hiring of Thibodeau has been universally acclaimed. A top-notch coach, Thibodeau also will have the power to shape his roster. Granted, the Wolves’ confidence is as fragile as Nikola Pekovic’s ankles. Thibs will change all that en route to ending the longest playoff drought in the NBA. The Timberwolves get a big fat “A” for this hiring.
Boudreau has a fantastic winning percentage and employs an entertaining system. I was a bit disappointed to read that so many of his former players liked him. It made me wonder if he was enough of a horse’s patoot to kick the Wild in the pants. After all, this squad went rogue on two coaches last season, refusing to take orders and playing an unauthorized style. But a little research revealed that he is quite adept at cussing out his troops. Another “A” grade.
Coyle appears to be everything the ‘U’ would want in an athletic director in the year 2016. He’s savvy, energetic, enthusiastic and kind of local. He even got a little weepy at his inaugural news conference, which plays well in today’s touchy-feely, proactive, sensitive, empowering college communities. He seems like the perfect administrator to handle the messy Richard Pitino problem. Grade “A,” baby.
We’re just killing it around here. Another fine offseason. And the best part is that we have an entire summer before any of these teams actually have to play a game.
Tom Powers is a sports columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.