Brian Murphy / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL—The 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs are a referendum on the talent and leadership within the four walls of the Minnesota Wild dressing room. There is only so much coach Bruce Boudreau and his assistants can do to tactically and psychologically prepare their team for the St. Louis Blues and the Game 4 knockout punch they intend to deliver Wednesday night in the cauldron of Scottrade Center. There are only so many coaches general manager Chuck Fletcher can overthrow before his regime is discredited.
ST. PAUL — Legend has it the ghost of Jean-Sebastien Giguere haunts the south goal crease of the Xcel Energy Center, and that you can hear the bygone bogeyman sharpening his stick like a scythe whenever an opposing netminder bores into the Minnesota Wild's psyche.
ST. PAUL — The sparsely decorated Xcel Energy Center rafters are an underachievement wilderness where Minnesota's forsaken NHL fans gaze at a forgotten division flag and the honorary No. 1 banner reminding them of their unfulfilled commitment. It is high time the Wild put a ring on it. Anything less this postseason from this record-setting team and its snakebitten head coach is cheap conversation at this point in time. Even the dearly beloved North Stars managed two trips to the Finals in 26 marginal seasons before bolting for Dallas.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lame duck is a foreign term to Twins manager Paul Molitor, who has lived 40 years in professional baseball on his terms, from the moment he graduated in 1974 from Cretin High School in St. Paul. St. Louis drafted him in the 28th round and offered him a $4,000 signing bonus. Molitor demanded $8,000. The Cardinals didn't budge. University of Minnesota baseball coach Dick Siebert dangled a scholarship. Molitor forged ahead and became one of the greatest Gophers ever.
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — With three pending starts and two more weeks of spring training, Twins right-hander Phil Hughes had ample time to hone his split-finger change-up and sand down the 7.00 earned-run average he carried into Friday's start against Tampa Bay. Still, getting knocked around is unpleasant no matter the stakes. The results he chased during three uneven outings finally came to fruition as Hughes produced his best start of the 2017 Grapefruit League.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Humbling is the kindest way to describe the failed ByungHo Park experiment, for the slugging South Korean superstar and the Minnesota Twins. Park's injury-plagued, half-baked debut in 2016 yielded 12 home runs, 80 strikeouts and 215 erratic at-bats before the designated hitter/first baseman was demoted July 1, never to be seen or heard from again in the major leagues. Cynical Twins fans had seen this flop before.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Left-hander Adalberto Mejia stands 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, making him hard to overlook as he stakes an unlikely claim in the battle for the Twins' No. 5 starter's job. Mejia is making his presence known after spending the majority of 2016 in the minors after being acquired from the San Francisco Giants in a deadline deal for all-star shortstop Eduardo Nunez.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Asked this week about rehabbing pitcher Glen Perkins, Twins manager Paul Molitor reached into a back desk drawer in his office at Hammond Stadium and pulled out a single sheet of paper. It was the left-hander's throwing schedule, and Molitor was looking for answers. There aren't many. Nine months after shoulder surgery, and 11 since he appeared in a game, Perkins is throwing pain free every four days, but there is no timetable for when he can face hitters and little indication he will ever close games again for the Twins.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was an offer Ervin Santana couldn't refuse. Not this time. The Twins wished their ace right-hander well Monday, March 13, as he dashed to Miami to join the Dominican Republic national team before it flew to San Diego for the second round of the World Baseball Classic. But Santana's decision was muddled later Monday when it was learned he would not start against Puerto Rico on Tuesday, the same day he was scheduled to pitch five innings against minor-league hitters during his normal throwing slot.
ST. PAUL — All Day is All Done in Minnesota after the Vikings turned superstar running back Adrian Peterson loose on the NFL on Tuesday with an accounting click that resonated like a divorce decree. Ignore the footsy that Peterson and general manager Rick Spielman are playing under the conference table to stoke false hopes that a renegotiated contract will keep Adrian in purple. Mutual affection is futile against market forces directing the latest episode of L'Affaire Peterson.