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NHL PLAYOFFS OTHER VIEWS

It Will Be a Series of Mice and Men

May 10, 2003|NHL PLAYOFFS | Minneapolis Star Tribune

Trap the Mouse!

The hockey series that opens today in St. Paul is more than a chance for the Wild, a third-year expansion team, to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.

This is a chance for Jacques Lemaire's survivalists to strike a blow for Minnesotans against all the indignities suffered by society at the hands of the Disney Co.

No doubt, you have stepped into a line where it looked as though you were 10 feet from the entrance, only to discover you must go 50 yards left, 50 yards right, 50 yards left again and 50 yards back right to get there.

Who do you think started that devious system? Right. The good folks at Disney.

The Boston Red Sox are at the Metrodome this weekend. The most embarrassing occurrence in franchise history is not failing to win a World Series since Babe Ruth was traded to the Yankees. It is that Ted Williams, the greatest Bosox of them all, lies frozen in a storage locker in Arizona.

Where do you think John Henry Williams, the wacky son, came up with the idea to freeze the Splendid Splinter? The guess here is it came after reading that Walt Disney also was frozen.

And let's not forget the sins of Touchstone, the Disney film branch started for older audiences. We older audiences truly appreciated "Coyote Ugly," "Bubble Boy," "Shanghai Knights," "Bringing Down the House" and "The Hot Chick," to name a few.

You have to do this, Wild, for Minnesota ... for America.

Trap the Mouse!

The people in my occupation, sportswriting, need it more than anyone. We are being defamed for 30 minutes daily, Monday through Friday. OK, we might be a collection of obnoxious loudmouths willing to do anything for money, but does that mean Disney has the right to hold us up for national ridicule with "Around the Horn" on ESPN, Disney's No. 1 profit center?

There's no group with better reason to detest Disney than sports fans. From tired cliches such as Dick Vitale and Chris Berman, to rising know-it-all Jay (I'm a Dukie) Bilas, to smirking Bobby Valentine ... basically, it's no longer safe to release the mute button when watching ESPN.

And don't forget this: All the pageantry of Big Ten football ... at 11 o'clock in the morning. That's a Disney/ESPN creation, too. The real issue local fans have with Disney, of course, is thunder sticks. The underdog Twins were in precisely the same position last fall as the Wild currently is -- one series away from the championship round -- when those Southern California front-runners started clattering their noisemakers.

Gardy's lads could not hold it together in that din, lost three in a row in Anaheim and watched the Angels go on to win the World Series.

Disney used this incentive to attract a buyer for the baseball team, meaning the Twins can no longer get to these corporate dogs by beating the Angels.

"The Wild has been in the same situation twice that we were in against Oakland -- playing back-to-back with the decisive game on the road," Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They won both times. I couldn't be more proud of them."

This wasn't just talk. Gardenhire attended numerous Wild games this winter. On Wednesday night, he ended his postgame media session quickly, to hustle back to the team hotel to watch the end of Game 6 of the Vancouver series.

Friday, Gardenhire was in his Metrodome office. He was asked if the Wild could wreak a little revenge for the Twins by keeping a Disney property out of a championship round.

"I don't know about that, but I have a hint for those Ducks," Gardenhire said. "When you're playing the Wild, it ain't over until it's over."

Come on, Gardy. Let the local fans embrace this as a vengeful victory over the thunder sticks.

This is more than a hockey series for the Wild. This is a public service.

Trap the Mouse!

Patrick Reusse, a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, can be reached at preusse@startribune.com.

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