For those of you too young to know about really important stuff – like state hockey history – we once had a glorious team called the Minnesota North Stars.
Okay, so “glorious” is a bit of an oversell. They were known for modest feats of competence, then crashing full-speed onto the shores of despair. Twice they made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Twice they stumbled to embarrassing defeat.
Because we’re Minnesota. That’s what we do.
The North Stars played from 1967-1993, during the NHL’s Roving White Street Gangs on Ice Period. It was a form of artistry on par with Picasso’s Blue Period, only it made for much better television:
The roster was filled with a rogue’s gallery of loveable mutants. There was Gump Worsley, who played goalie without a mask, one of the benefits of not possessing a central nervous system. There was ace sniper Dino Ciccarelli, who had a fondness for patrolling his Eden Prairie yard without pants.
Then there was the greatest North Star of them all – or so it was said by his adoring legions.
Jack Carlson, along with brothers Steve and Jeff, hailed from Virginia, Minnesota. They would become the inspiration for the movie Slap Shot, gaining fame through their indiscriminate selection of eyewear, an incompetent barber, and a willingness to brawl at any moment.
Jack’s career stats: 36 goals, 692 penalty minutes.
But it would all come to an end in 1993. Enter the sinner of this tale, owner Norm Green.
At the time, the North Stars played at the Met Center in Bloomington, near where the Mall of America now stands. The arena was small with no luxury suites. Norm drove a Rolls Royce. He could not buy more Rolls Royces without luxury suites.
You could say that Norm was decidedly not lovable, as evidenced by the series of sexual harassment complaints leveled by female employees. He fought with city officials and couldn’t agree on a lease at the Target Center or the St. Paul Civic Center, an arena that once stood where the Xcel Center is now located.
Fed up – and at risk of being run out of town – Norm announced he was moving the North Stars to Dallas, suggesting that God’s infallibility is not quite as advertised.
Sports Illustrated captured the team’s final game in Bloomington. In between breaks in the action, the sellout crowd chanted “Norm Green sucks” at every chance.
"Norm Green is a money-hungry, egotistical, country-club-seeking lizard," St. Paul’s Wendi Rodewald told the magazine. "Wait a minute. Did I say 'greedy'? He's a greedy, money-hungry, egotistical, country-club-seeking lizard. And he looks like Satan."
Rodewald would go on to become the poet laureate of St. Paul.
By this time, Norm was keeping his distance from the Met Center, though he did show up at a North Stars game in Los Angeles. A Minnesota fan found him in the press box and poured a full beer on his head.
Back then, America didn’t have to be made great again. It already was.
Minnesota would not get a new NHL team until the Wild arrived in 2000. But in the hearts of fans of a certain age, these interlopers would never take the place of our beloved North Stars.
Yet those memories went down in flames last week when a new, more insidious character appeared in our tale: Justin Bieber.
You may know him as the teen idol sent to America in a naked act of aggression by our former ally, Canada. He is now struggling with attempted adulthood.
Salient facts, according to an investigative report by Elle: Bieber is unhappy, despite his recent marriage. He has “complicated feelings” about Selena Gomez. Bieber “doesn’t feel whole.”
So he decided to take revenge on all that is good and holy. By wearing a North Stars hat. In public. Where everyone could see.
Were this a sin committed by a normal celebrity – say, Shia LeBeouf or Kathy Griffin – experts believe the team may have surmounted the jinx. But a Bieber jinx is akin to getting hit in the throat by a Matt Dumba slapper at close range. You just don’t recover from something like that.
A wake is scheduled for Tuesday at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub in St. Paul. Mourning is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. and run till the year 2053, or whenever the last North Stars fan dies.