This season marks the 20th season of the Minnesota Wild. It’s a milestone worth celebrating, not just because we love supporting our hometown team and are grateful to have NHL hockey here, but the impact the franchise has had on hockey in Minnesota over that time is incredible and worth celebrating.
Since Day 1, the Wild have used the slogan State of Hockey as a way to connect with the history and heritage of hockey in Minnesota. It’s a fitting tagline given the immense hockey culture, sheer numbers of participation and passion for the game that extends from first year players to NHL alumni.
Yet, it’s never been just a marketing gimmick. It’s a true to the core, fundamental creed of how the organization operates, and hockey in Minnesota has been the beneficiary.
Minnesota Wild President Matt Majka, who has been with the organization since its inception, eloquently provided insight into their mindset in an interview with Sports Illustrated last year:
“The Wild is a part of the State of Hockey, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. After 20 years, we’re still kind of earning our place in the State of Hockey’s history, and that’s OK. We’re here to be stewards for the sport, to grow the sport and to celebrate the sport.”
To say they have been and continue to be stewards of the game is an understatement.
The Xcel Energy Center, masterfully decorated by curator and historian Roger Godin, serves as a cross between the Wild’s home arena and a museum of Minnesota hockey history, showcasing everything from Minnesota Hockey youth state champions to high school hockey jerseys and state tournament relics to Hobey Baker Award winners and much more.
The Minnesota Wild Foundation has provided millions of dollars in funding and support for youth and disabled hockey programs and hockey related charities through game day programs, 50/50 raffles, and grants like Gear Up Minnesota.
The Wild’s on-going support of disabled hockey in Minnesota has helped not only provide people with physical and developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience the game but lift them up and celebrate them through events like Disabled Hockey Night and hosting the NHL Sled Classic in 2017.
Through partnerships with leaders in the hockey community, the Wild have also played a role in elevating the sport’s biggest games and events, such as the State High School Hockey Tournament and college hockey conference tournaments, to an even grander stage, helping inspire the next generation of players.
In partnership with Fox Sports North, the development of Hockey Day Minnesota has evolved from cool idea to tradition to a borderline state holiday.
Perhaps even more exciting, the Wild have become even more involved in the past decade, designing numerous programs that directly impact hockey players, coaches, officials and associations. The Little Wild Learn to Play has helped grow the 8U base to north of 18,000 players for the first time ever. Additional programs such as Youth Hockey Spotlight Games, First Year Referee Seminar, State of Hockey High Performance Coaching Summit, Mite Holiday Jamboree, Girls Hockey Weekend, Leadership Summit and many more positively influence the growth and development of hockey every year.
Simply put, the Minnesota Wild truly strives to create a greater State of Hockey every single season, and their dedication has helped fuel enormous growth of the game in Minnesota over the past 20 years
Minnesota Hockey would like to thank the Minnesota Wild for their ever-present and growing support of community hockey in Minnesota!