“Purple Pain” was a column former sports writer Joe Kerlin wrote two years ago when he filled the last few pages of The Spectrum’s copy every issue. It took a look at the Minnesota Vikings, and whatever new way the team was finding to disappoint its loyal fan base.
Here’s to a resurrection of that column, but why keep the disappointment to just those Purple People Eaters — we’ve got two other sports going on that can use some attention in that department.
Coming off of a respectable last season with a trip to the conference semifinals, the Minnesota Wild were primed and ready to take the next step in a run toward the Stanley Cup. The season started out just as planned with a 20-10-6 record in the first three months of the season, to be tied for third in the Central Division.
Then, the calendar turned and so did the Wild’s success in the new year. The team plummeted from the standings with a 3-13-4 stretch eerily similar to previous years with head coach Mike Yeo at the helm. It seems there’s at least one monthlong stretch in the season where the Wild struggle mightily under Yeo.
Whether it takes a practice tirade by Yeo or not, Minnesota always seems to respond to get out of the slump and finish the season strong.
This year’s slid was apparently too much for general manager Chuck Fletcher, who fired Yeo last weekend following a string of eight straight losses and 13 of 14 games dropped overall to fall out of a playoff spot.
Did Yeo deserve to get fired? His history of mid-season slumps doesn’t help his case, but his resume of three postseason berths and playoff series wins in two different years speaks for itself with a franchise on the rebound under Yeo.
However, the latest losing streak was too much, and something had to change. Yeo just happened to be that one to change.
I argue, though, another Minnesota sport might want to take notice of the head coaching change. After the passing of Flip Saunders, the Minnesota Timberwolves hired former player Sam Mitchell as the interim head coach of a young team with loads of potential.
Just like with the Wild, the Timberwolves started the year fairly well with an 8-8 record through most of November, but the struggles of years’ past continued as the team with nine wins in the last 38 games.
What’s different with this year’s team in comparison to the last few years is that the wall the Timberwolves have hit is correlated with the plethora of injuries throughout the season.
That’s not the case this year with most of the team healthy, and the losing isn’t due to a lack of talent either.
First picks of the two most recent drafts are on the team with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Both performed well during last weekend’s All-Star festivities with Wiggins dropping 29 in the Rising Stars Challenge and Towns winning the Skills Competition.
The biggest Timberwolves winner was second-year guard Zach LaVine, who took home MVP honors at the Rising Stars game and the trophy from the Slam-Dunk competition.
This team has talent, and the excuse that they’re just too young isn’t good enough anymore because it’s proven these young guns can play on the big stage. The Timberwolves might need a complete overhaul in terms of its coaching staff.
A change of culture with the potential the Wolves have could finally have them scrapping for a playoff berth, a first since 2004.