One of the many musings this offseason, as we killed time to get to Autumn, was arguing the case for who the Dallas Stars’ biggest rival is. We all personally have teams we like or dislike for one reason or another, but who do the Dallas Stars play that gets both fan bases’ blood boiling?
In the 90’s you might say the Avalanche, and in the 2000’s you could say Detroit, while 2010’s bouts with the Blues harbored all kinds of bitterness. In turnstile fashion, the past year may indicate that Minnesota is becoming the team’s most hated rival for the 2020’s and vitriol is good for business.
Dallas Stars Minnesota Wild Rivalry: A Quick History Lesson
The mutual disdain between fan bases is not as long-endured as most rivalries but the roots run deeper than the past 8 months. Minnesota played host to the North Stars prior to their move to Dallas and spurned their fan base when Herb Green decided to move the team to a more hospitable market.
After shopping around in California, the ironically named Green landed the hockey club deep in the heart of Texas. Amidst the metroplex’s peak of football success, with the Cowboys completing their dynasty of 3 Super Bowls, he translated fan aggression from the field of Texas Stadium to the rink of Reunion Arena. It didn’t take long before the championship pedigree was matched and the Stars won their first Stanley Cup in ’99.
While the 90s are far in the rearview mirror, to much of our chagrin, the Stars still serve as a reminder to Wild fans of the organization that left them in the cold. The casual fans of hockey in Texas are short in number because of accessibility, but the casual fans in Minnesota are fewer because of the low general population.
Each team may contain the same percentage of die-hards, but the bottom line for the North Stars was that Minnesotans were not showing up despite great team success. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make sense for the “State of Hockey” to go without representation in the NHL. The league agreed by granting the lost souls of Minnesota an outlet via the Wild at the turn of the century.
Dallas Stars Minnesota Wild Rivalry: Clear & Present Danger
Fast forward 23 years and the Stars are facing the Wild in the first round of the playoffs, with the franchise’s history on the mind of each fan base. The history between the organizations was used for ammunition between warring Twitter fan bases that served as great background noise to the carnage that took place on the ice.
Dumba took a cheap shot at Pavelski that knocked him out of the series, Domi fed him a phalange sandwich, and the teams eventually combined for 221 penalty minutes in the series. A majority of the sin bin time consisted of game misconduct penalties, most notoriously the Foligno knee-on-knee with Faksa that eliminated him from game 5. Needless to say, the contentiousness between parties fueled the war of words on Twitter and the steered competitive play.
Twitter wasn’t the only battleground for warring words, as Dean Evason took issue with perceived embellishing in the Stars strategy. Evason noted that he “felt that they had some bigger people probably go down pretty easy” to garner calls, and that “It’s a fine line because we don’t dive,” implying that Minnesota had more physical integrity than Dallas.
Mind you, this was in response to Pete DeBoer observing that “Minnesota takes penalties. They’re the sixth-most penalized team in the league,” which is factually accurate. The players ultimately took on the personas of their coaches and while the Wild outwardly and sarcastically mimicked Dallas’ penalty sensitivity, the Stars stoically cashed in on the vulnerability that came with the Wild’s emotional volatility. Minnesota played with fire and got burnt.
Dallas Stars Minnesota Wild Rivalry: Storms in the forecast
The teams picked up where they left off this preseason when noted bus rider Patrick Maroon decided to take a dive right into Scott Wedgewood. Maroon has been a thorn in the side of the Stars as the sandpaper to the Blues during their cup run as well as Tampa’s during the bubble clash in 2020’s cup final. The longer-tenured Stars know exactly what his M.O. is and it’s precisely what he showed during that exchange.
It’s not often you see a captain get receive a game misconduct in the preseason, but Benn knows what Wedgewood’s health means for this team on top of being the team’s peacemaker. If the glorified practices are maintaining the same intensity as the first round of playoffs, Stars fans should have each regular season match with the Wild highlighted on their calendar.
While the rivalry has not reached like the Avs-Red Wings in the 90s levels of violence, the animosity between franchises is quite evidently present. The fun part for Stars fans is the “little brother” mentality the players likely hold for Minnesota, despite Minnesota’s raucous fan base holding themselves in higher regard.
The Stars are loaded for the short and long term, while the Wild are grasping at straws with their ragtag bunch. Minnesota may not have the talent to contend at the level the Stars will in the immediate future, but it will still be satisfying to watch the Stars beat them.