Searching for a litmus test on how hockey mad the state of Minnesota is? Look no further than the attendance at Friday’s games at the state high school hockey tournament in St. Paul’s XCel Energy Center, and the attendance at an NHL game featuring the team that traditionally plays there, the Minnesota Wild.
Friday’s state tourney slate, like the games played most games at the traditional event, was a sell-out of just shy of 18,000 fans. The attendance in North Carolina, where the Wild were facing off against the homestanding Hurricanes, was significantly lower. All it takes is one look at the two venues side-by-side during the games.
The Tweet above says it all. That’s XCel Energy Center on the left, and the Hurricanes’ PNC Arena on the right.
So Minnesota cares more about high school hockey than another NHL city does about its professional team. Allegedly by a lot. Why the NHL ever thought it was a good idea to abandon the Twin Cities remains one of the great mysteries in sports.