I am Dutch Schnell. And I (dramatic pause) am a goalie racer. Some of you are familiar with my past line of work, when I donned a blue jersey for the lower level fans, raced two laps around the Xcel Energy Center, and mauled the likes of Legs Lukenen, Piney Woods, Ugly Roguski and that despicable puppy-hater, Egg Olson, in the Great Goalie Race at select Minnesota Wild home games.
None of you are familiar with my new line of work, which is writing columns for Wild.com.
The year of 2004-2005 was one that I would like to erase from my memory a la Jason Bourne. It was not only a year of not watching my beloved Minnesota Wild, it was a year without my career.
Ah yes, you hadn’t thought about the likes of me, had you?
I kept hearing about how noble the NHL referees were for not taking any jobs from the zebras in the minor leagues or college during the lockout. No one praised me for not taking goalie racing jobs away for the minor leaguers. I even turned down offers to race at my beloved alma mater of Minnesota-Duluth, home of the Bulldogs, undoubtedly the State of Hockey’s favorite college team.
The life of a scab was not for me. I wish I could say the same for that slimy, fancy pants fur ball, Egg Olson, who spent his year pummeling high school goalie racers to boost his precious ego.
I looked for other ways to put food on the table for the future Mrs. Schnell and I. Fortunately for me, the gracious folks at the Minnesota Wild saw something they liked. It was probably when I sent Egg into the fourth row on my way to winning my fifth career goalie race on April 4, 2004.
The Minnesota Wild offered me a fine job.
In October, I was named “mail room coordinator,” in charge of weeding out junk mail and opening suspicious packages. After a few months, I earned a promotion in February as window washer of the Xcel Energy Center. That job was tougher than I thought it would be, due mostly in part to not being provided with anything other than a roll of Brawny paper towels and a bottle of Windex that I repeatedly thawed out with my breath.
I finished the job on July 12. When I walked into Wild headquarters to return the bottle of Windex, the office was abuzz with excitement. Apparently, a Collective Bargaining Agreement had been reached. Before I could ask what was going on, I was whisked to a computer and told by Bill Robertson, the Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting, to “write a press release and make it sing!”
Look at me now! Here I am writing for Wild.com on the eve of the most anticipated home opener since 2000. And my new goal, besides lobbying for Egg Olson to be deported back to Reykjavik, Iceland, is to give the State of Hockey legion the greatest insight and predictions on our beloved boys in the Forest Green and Iron Range Red. I’ll be offering my takes on Wild events, past games and future games.
And speaking of future games, that brings me to my point of this first installment of Dutch: The Column. The Wild have their first REAL game on Wednesday night against the defending Western Conference Champion Calgary Flames.
HERE (dramatic pause) is my expert opinion: (another dramatic pause) big-time Wild victory.
Here’s the reasoning: the Minnesota Wild do NOT lose home openers, and THAT is a proven fact. You can go all the way back to the club’s infancy years and see that our beloved boys have NEVER lost the home opener.
I can hear the naysayers now, whining about how history doesn’t mean anything. “Sooner or later, they will lose a home opener,” chirp those negative Nellies.
First of all, no they won’t.
Second of all, I just think, nay, I am certain, that the Wild are better than the Calgary Flames. And that’s not to say I have something against the defending Stanley Cup runners-up. They are definitely the most likeable adversaries in the Northwest Division, although that’s not saying much. They also have Jarome Iginla, who for my Schillings and Deutsche marks is the best all-around player in the game. They also have Jordan Leopold who, despite his obvious Golden Gopher-ness, seems like a good guy, and he’s got some serious skills.
Lastly, but most importantly, we have Dwayne Roloson, who actually PLAYED for the Flames! Are you kidding me? You don’t think he’ll be able to tell his teammates everything that Calgary has planned as far as schemes and mechanisms? It’s like we have Columbo in our own locker room! Take a look at the picture to the right. That’s him! That is an undoctored photo of the man we all know as "Roli."
The fact that we pretty much have a CIA spy in our locker room is irrelevant. I’ve already proven that it’s impossible to defeat the Wild on an opening night at home. So why even play the game? The answer, of course, is to see hockey again, and to see the State of Hockey legion again. The greatest game (besides goalie racing) is back, and better than ever! The same can be said for our beloved Wild, and their beloved fans.
The Wild will thank everyone for their support tomorrow with a rousing 4-1 victory. Pascal Dupuis will chip in two goals and Brian Rolston will add a power play tally. Marian Gaborik, who will be out because of a groin injury, will somehow find a way to contribute offensively. Manny Fernandez gets the win, as he always does on Opening Night.
There you have it. I will see the State of Hockey legion tomorrow night. And you will see me the next day, on Wild.com, reporting on all of the night’s action.
My name is Dutch Schnell and I…am a goalie racer.