Patrick Reusse
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The Minnesota North Stars played their last game on April 15, 1993, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. They missed the top four in the Norris Division and thus were not among the 16 of 24 teams to advance to the NHL playoffs.

The North Stars took a 2-0 lead on goals by Mike McPhee and Ulf Dahlen that night, and then the Red Wings scored five straight. Dino Ciccarelli scored his 41st goal and had an assist on Steve Yzerman's 58th during the Red Wings' splurge.

As it was ending, Al Shaver, the radio voice of the North Stars for their 26 seasons in Bloomington, counted off the final seconds and then said:

"The Stars lose it here, 5-3, and now it's pack-'em-up time and on to Dallas … Minnesota's loss is definitely a gain for Dallas, and a big one.

"We thank you from the bottoms of our hearts, for all the wonderful nights at Met Center, when you've given so much entertainment, and you've been such a credit to the community in which you played.

"We will still remember you as 'Minnesota North Stars.'

"Good night, everybody. And goodbye.''

Shaver meant goodbye to the players in the truest sense, since he turned down the chance to continue as the team's radio voice by following owner Norm Green and his franchise to Texas as the Dallas Stars.

Green made the announcement he was moving the North Stars on March 10, after he had gone there to finalize his lease deal at Reunion Arena with city officials.

"Green … he was a beauty,'' Shaver said this week. "He had those damn dogs following him everywhere. His secretary had to take the two Charlies out for a walk in the parking lot twice every day.''

Norm's King Charles spaniels became so infamous we all knew the names: Rupert and Charles.

"I was given the chance to do Gophers games, and I figured that could take me to retirement,'' Shaver said. "I spent three years on Gophers broadcasts with Glen Sonmor. What a treat that was.

"Glen was a wonderful person. We would drive to most of the games. Every place but Colorado, actually; we'd fly there.

"I would pick up Glen at his place and the stories would start … all the way to Houghton [Mich.], if that's where we were going.''

Al and his wife, Shirley, had decided that Vancouver Island, the 300-mile hunk of British Columbia that has the Strait of Georgia and other waters to the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west, would be a fine place to retire in 1996.

"We didn't want the heat and humidity, and we didn't want the piles of snow and freezing cold,'' Shaver said Tuesday. "We bought a condo here, with its mostly moderate weather.

"I tried to stay in our home after Shirley died, but I couldn't handle it. Too many memories.''

Shirley died in 2019. Al is now in a senior facility in Qualicum Beach on the island. He turned 96 last October. He was on the speaker of my cell phone Tuesday, and the voice remained unmistakably Al.

There was a terrific emotional event for Shaver last week.

"All of our family is still around Minnesota,'' he said. "Due to the restrictions from COVID in Canada, I had not seen a member of my family in person in two years.

"Last week, Sue and her husband came for a visit. Sue's our baby. I got her in a hug and had a hard time letting go.''

There were five Shaver kids raised in the Twin Cities, and there are nine grandchildren, and now nine great-grandchildren. Son Wally has taken up the mantle as a longtime voice of the Gophers, and grandson Jason is working hopefully toward the NHL as the voice of the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.

Al Shaver had an approval rating among sports listeners here perhaps matched only by Vin Scully in Los Angeles. The lone complaint was Al didn't give the score often enough, which he tried to remedy with a simple message taped just above his sightline at Met Center: "Give the Score.''

Shaver's living facility only gets Canucks games during the season, but TVs now have all the playoff games. He's been watching it all, even making it to the end of Dallas-Calgary in overtime on Sunday night.

"We had a wonderful 30 years in Minnesota and I root for all of those teams,'' Shaver said. "The Wild are my No. 1 hockey team and I thought they would beat the Blues. That didn't happen, but [Kirill] Kaprizov … that young man is extraordinary.' "

Shaver's greatness did make the transition from the North Stars to the expansion team, when the Wild had the wisdom to name Xcel Energy Center's media viewing area the Al Shaver Press Box.

"That was an incredible honor for me,'' he said. "It's great to be remembered.''