On Tuesday night, the Wild tied the Red Wings 4-4 at the end of Regulation, and then Overtime, before losing in the shootout. This you already knew (probably). If you had asked most of the fanbase on that night what the odds were of getting even one point out of the night at the half-hour mark, most of us would have said "not gonna happen."
At that point (or even earlier) a number of fans turned the game off. I am included in this contingent. Why? For me, the answer was simple: I've watched a majority of the games this season, and after going down even one goal, much less three, the Wild simply don't climb back. Early in the season they could, but that was November; 2 months and 20 degrees ago. This is not that Wild.
Add (for me) the fact that my fiancee has sat through disappointing loss after disappointing loss and graciously allowed me to fume and rage- occasionally and unfairly at her- and we turned the game off and continued watching season 7 of 24.
Band-Wagoners: Get Off Here
That evening, after the Wild had come back to tie the game, I saw a tweet to the effect of "too bad the band wagon fans aren't watching the game anymore" with the implication that anyone who turned the game off was a band-wagon fan.
Inherent in such a statement is the idea that a "band-wagon" fan is somehow less of a fan than a die-hard fan, and Joe wrote a great article about this a few months ago.Of course band-wagon fans aren't "worse" fans than a die-hard; they're simply different. As I tell my third graders- differences are OK.
Moving past the mis-guided jab at bandwagon fans, I ask: how many times have we seen this team give up a lead and never recover this season? The only competent goalie play we've gotten has been from Devan Dubnyk, and he (arguably through little fault of his own) shipped 4 goals on 10 shots to start the game on Tuesday. He was pulled and replaced with Darcy Kuemper, who has posted a 5v5 Adjusted Sv% of 89.68 this season... that's not very good.
Seen That Movie Too
Some of you may have seen Steve Dangle's Leafs Fan Reaction videos on YouTube (and the rest of you should start). Regularly we see Steve say something to the effect of "here we go again:" a feeling we, as Wild fans, are more than familiar with this season.
We've seen that game: the game where the Wild come out early with energy, play well, maybe go up a goal, and then collapse. It's nothing new, not to MN sports teams, and not this season for the Wild. The games aren't fun to watch, and the sentiment has been rampant that watching the Wild lose in this fashion is more of a chore than fun.
Look, in the end, this is a sport. Granted, it's a sport that I and the others here at Hockey Wilderness (and some of you too, probably) think too much about. It's a distraction from our day-to-day lives, and a community we are a part of. But when the distraction no longer is entertaining, it loses it's draw. Can anyone blame us, as fans, for not wanting to watch our team lose (again) in agonizing fashion?
So, what constitutes a "bad fan"? that's hard to decide. Quite frankly, I'm not sure they exist. Certainly we can't call someone a bad fan for simply not wanting to watch their team lose in the same way as they have time and again before.
This season has been rough. It has been arduous and tiresome to watch the Wild, and frustrating to no end. Roster decisions are confusing, play has been sloppy, and we've had a collapse that no one saw coming. At worst, the Wild were expected to be 4th in the division this year, and that was from people who didn't see Colorado's struggles on the horizon; no one saw Nashville surging the way they have, few thought the Jets would be as good as they have (though some did), and no one thought Kuemper would be as bad as he has been. It's been brutal.
Rather than turning on each other, Wild fans should be coming together. Instead of calling each other silly pseudo-insults like "bandwagon," we should be welcoming each other into the revelry of our mediocrity. The bottom of the standings are a kind of club for fans, and the Wild close to putting us in the club. We don't have to like being there, but driving others away will only make the experience more unbearable.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
If there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that the Wild organization won't likely stand for the sub-par season we've had. Whether that means Chuck Fletcher makes moves this offseason (or before the trade deadline), or perhaps Craig Leipold makes a management change, something is coming. All we have to do is keep a level head (as much as possible), and come together in community.
Because again, something's coming (even if it's only an outdoor game)
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