Supposedly, Minnesota Has a Weird Kyle Okposo-Related Grudge

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

Do Minnesotans hold a serious grudge? Apparently, they are still upset about Kyle Okposo leaving school early six years ago. Or at least one writer says as much.

Forgive me since this is the first time I’ve heard about this, but apparently folks in Minnesota were really ticked about Okposo leaving school to play for the Islanders. Well, not so much against Okposo and him leaving town early, more about Garth Snow’s comments in the aftermath. Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes:

The Twin Cities’ sizable hockey cult is very protective of the Gophers and now the Wild. This has made Garth Snow, the general manager of the New York Islanders, an unpopular figure.

The impetus for that was Snow getting forward Kyle Okposo, the seventh overall selection in the 2006 draft, to turn pro on Dec. 19, 2007 — early in Okposo’s sophomore season.

What offended Minnesotans was Snow’s view on the player development taking place with Don Lucia’s Gophers.

“Quite frankly, we weren’t happy with the program,” Snow said. “They have a responsibility to coach, to make Kyle a better player, and they were not doing that.”

Well, I guess that’s fair. Snow sort of poached a player that would have been contributing to the local hockey team and it is a fact that the Minnesota hockey team is a big deal in Minnesota. Snow had some comments that didn’t paint U of M in a good light, so it makes sense that the locals would take offense to that.

That’s where it gets a little weird. 

Again, from Reusse:

We are approaching the six-year anniversary of that quote and it is time for the locals to take a different view of Snow. They should look at him as a generous friend of Minnesota hockey.

Four months ago, for the modest price of the overrated Cal Clutterbuck and a third-round draft choice, Snow gave the Wild a now 21-year-old Nino Niederreiter, a wing with size, speed and quick hands.

It sounded a bit fishy — as if there had to be more to the Islanders giving up on Niederreiter, the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, than mere dimwittedness by Snow.

So what started as a somewhat odd Okposo story has apparently transformed into fan’s desire to gloat about Nino Niederreiter, something that, if written by a blogger and not a major paper, would clearly be accused of having been written in a basement as a piece of fanboy slash fiction.

But wait, it gets better. Reusse channels his inner Woodward and Bernstein. An anonymous veteran on the Wild sings the praises of Niederreiter. How ever did you manage to get that quote?

On Monday morning, a Wild veteran was at his locker in St. Paul. He was asked what might have been the Islanders’ motivation for trading Niederreiter before his 21st birthday.

With a promise of anonymity, the veteran said: “I have no idea in the world. He’s loaded with talent.”

Don’t worry, it’s OK, everyone. There’s a happy ending in all of this.

Niederreiter said. “I am very happy to be in Minnesota.”

And the Twin Cities hockey cult is very happy to have him. Thanks, Garth Snow. You’re forgiven.

Niederreiter has five points in 13 games thus far for Minnesota and, if he stays on the right track, he should be a nice player for the Wild. This was a very weird way to go about writing that.

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