Patrick Reusse
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The North Stars were located in Bloomington for 26 seasons and there are two skaters with a solid connection in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

The player that causes you to say, "He was a true North Star," is Dino Ciccarelli. He started his career in Minnesota and, in nine regular seasons, he scored 332 of the 608 goals in his career.

Mike Modano also started his career here, playing four seasons before Norm Green made the memorable decision to move the franchise to Dallas and cut out the "North" portion of Stars.

Modano was 19 when he moved into the North Stars lineup in 1989, played in 317 of what would become 1,459 games in the regular season, and scored 133 of his 561 goals here. He spent 16 seasons in Dallas and made 10 of his 12 All-Star teams.

Sorry, Minnesota: Mike Modano was a Dallas Star.

This is the 20th season for the Wild in St. Paul. Jacques Lemaire, the original coach, is a Hall of Famer as a player and also deserving as a coach.

Beyond the fabulous Frenchman giving the Wild immediate credibility, there have been very good players, and never a great one. Marian Gaborik gave early hints, but injuries and Lemaire's carping about defense cramped his style.

Bottom line, and don't get mad about this, State of Hockey zealots:

There have been 45 previous seasons in the modern NHL for the Twin Cities, and there has never been what my hockey-loving friend Joe Soucheray calls "The Guy."

That would be the player to give the same sense of excitement when he picks up the puck that Harmon Killebrew did when he started a bat from near his shoulder or when Randy Moss was glancing back in full flight for a football.

Thus, and not to put undo expectations on rookie Kirill Kaprizov. but we're way overdue here, Kirill the Thrill, and feel free to get rolling.

The Wild returned to Xcel Energy Center on Friday for the first time since beating Nashville on March 3, 2020.

This was Game 5 of the latest pandemic-shortened, 56-game schedule, and a 4-1 victory (with two empty-netters) over San Jose put the Wild's record at 4-1.

Frankly, a tight contest with a lousy Sharks club was not the reason for being in attendance. I was there to see Kaprizov, not up-close but in person.

There had been a Twitter explosion in the Twin Cities at 11:50 p.m. Jan. 14 when Kaprizov scored a 3-on-3 overtime goal to put a dramatic end — Wild 4, Kings 3 — to his first NHL game.

He also had two assists that night, another in Game 2 (on an overtime goal), and was named the NHL's first star for his first week in the league.

Since then, one more assist, which means Wild fans, several dozen spectators in the arena, and TV announcer Anthony LaPanta were eagerly waiting for goal No. 2 to appear Friday.

LaPanta had declared loudly that Kaprizov was "for real" after that opening game-winner. Thus, we had a guarantee of stardom right from Tony the Pony's mouth.

Then came the first two periods Friday night, and the rookie was little noticed. The home team was ahead 2-1, on a goal scored by Zach Parise and assisted by Nick Bjug­stad, Kaprizov's linemates.

The Thrill did not have a shot on goal in those two periods. None. Zippo.

"What gives?" you asked. And the rookie answered when the Wild went on a power play 2½ minutes into the third period.

Suddenly, No. 97 was dangerous. He backhanded a shot that was stopped by Devan Dubnyk. He wristed a shot that was stopped by Dubnyk.

Then came the fun.

Midway through the period, the lefthanded-shooting Kaprizov came from the right side with the puck on his backhand. He freed himself with a pass back through his legs, to the forehand. His quick shot bounced off Dubnyk and flew toward Parise.

"That was a nice play," Parise said. "I felt I should have put that rebound away."

It was only a moment, and it might ruin a thousand Minnesota youth players who study the replay and try to duplicate the impossible, but the amazing pass to himself was worth the trip from a Minneapolis suburb on a winter night cold enough to remind Kaprizov of his hometown in Siberia.