Lockout Day 21- Interview in “Wild Country” part 4


OCT 8, 2011; St. Paul, MN, USA: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin (51) checks Minnesota Wild left wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard (96) in the third period at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Blue Jackets 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

Here is the Concluding part of my interview with Derek Skykalo, editor of the fansided blog Gone Puck Wild which is the Minnesota Wild’s blog. Just to remind you here is his first question describing himself and his site.

First of all Derek, tell us a little about yourself and the blog site.

"I grew up playing the game of hockey my entire life so to be covering it daily and writing about the sport I love, it just feels natural.  Gone Puck Wild is a site that provides the most insightful and extensive coverage of the Minnesota Wild, ranging from rumors, news, opinions and analysis, if it breaths Wild, we cover it.  We also like to discuss the happenings around the hockey world and are always looking for a good hockey debate."

I’ve been to Minnesota, in the Summer– the land of 10,000 lakes, of sky blue waters, etc. etc.  It’s beautiful. I’ve never talked to anyone from Minneapolis/St Paul area who didn’t love it. But I note that many buildings have weather proof travel arrangements that  allow movement from building to building without going outside.  Must be a reason for that! And we are talking to a guy that played hockey- just like we in Ohio would play basketball etc. It is a different world.

My bets are that the fans are very knowledgeable of hockey as they either played, or someone in their family played and they’ve seen a lot of hockey at all levels. So it’s a different world for the fans and the NHL. On a whim, I sent the first part to a high school friend of mine, [We’re from Ohio, played baseball & basketball as our school was so small they didn’t have football. ] who lives in Minnesota. Boy, did his response verify what I had written.  In part, here is his response,

"I will follow this, although my hockey game attendance peaked when son Jon was playing 10-12 years ago.  But I love the sport and fans are very intelligent around here because nearly every school has a rink and every high school has a team.  Much like basketball in Ohio and Indiana, the little school can be the David against the big city Goliath school.  This makes for a lot of great stories."

 Now a few questions that may be a little touchy, Don’t hold back trying to be diplomatic, “Inquiring minds want to know”

As we think back over last year, the shoulda, coulda, woulda possibilities kinda come back to the Wisniewski suspension. If the Wiz would not have been suspended, would the Blue Jackets started off better? If they had started better would Jeff Carter have played more enthusiastically?  And so on. Sooooooooo.

Q– The Cal Clutterbuck/Jame Wisniewski incident last year in the pre-season game, may have been a defining moment for the year for the Blue Jackets. Our fans feel Clutterbuck took a dive and has laughed about the Wisniewski suspension all year. Not pulling any punches, how do your fans see this incident?

"This is a tale of two teams and their fan base following and supporting their clubs.  Wild fans feel that Wisniewski attacked Clutterbuck and he deserved the suspension.  I’m not saying it’s how I feel, but that’s the general reaction with Minny fans.  Loyalties run deep and this situation was no different."

Well put I’d say. It’s very difficult to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes, but Derek did that in just a very few words.

Q– Columbus keeps hearing on a national level that our city is perceived as a great sports town as long as the team is spelled Buckeyes. As an NHL town, it is perceived as a “Hockey Wasteland” We of course, do not agree. From way up there in the North Country, can you give us your perception?

"Personally I see Columbus as a potential hockey market and obviously the second work stoppage in eight years is going to further push the Jackets down the hill.  They’ll have to fight to regain the fan base and the attention from the college scene and even then it might be a greater challenge.  Bettman is to blame if the Jackets fail in Columbus. I don’t think they will if they can rebuild and ice a competitive team in the next 3-5 years."

And as Woodie Woodpecker used to say, “That’s All Folks”