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Nanne-Torrey Cooked up Steak Trade

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May 30, 2018

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A Wednesday notes column starting with Lou Nanne’s steak dinner trade for a minor league hockey player.

The former North Stars executive told Sports Headliners about the 1980s steak dinner trade he made with the late Bill Torrey of the Islanders when Minnesota targeted Frank Beaton. Nanne was developing the minor league affiliate roster for Birmingham and Beaton had been a popular player in that city during World Hockey Association days in the 1970s. Nanne thought Beaton, who was Islanders’ property, could boost his South Stars at the box office.

“I signed him,” Nanne said. “Bill calls me and says, ‘You can’t do that. It’s not even July first. He’s not a free agent.’

“I go, ‘If I am going to Birmingham I am getting guys that can help sell tickets. So I already signed him, so I’ll buy you dinner.’ He says, ‘Okay.’ ”

The trade was reported to the NHL office something like this: Beaton to the North Stars for dinner at The Palm in New York. The league office nixed the deal and said the transaction had to be for “future considerations” instead of a steak dinner.

Torrey, though, still got his dinner from Nanne at the famous New York City steakhouse, reportedly costing $360. “Actually it wasn’t $360. It was about $180,” Nanne said.

Torrey died earlier this month after an extraordinary career as an executive who built Stanley Cup teams. He was known as “The Architect.”

“He was one of my closest friends,” Nanne said. “I have to say he was one of the most liked people you’re ever going to see. Extremely smart and very sociable, and a great work ethic, and a great boss. He knew how to work with, how to handle people, and he knew how to build an organization. Bill was one of the best.”

Minnesota native Dana Marshall, an avid sports researcher, points out maybe the success of the first-year NHL expansion Golden Knights isn’t unprecedented as commonly reported. The Minneapolis Lakers, he wrote via email, won the 1948 National Basketball League championship with a new roster after relocating from Detroit as the Gems. The “Cinderella” Vegas team is in the Stanley Cup Finals and leading the Caps 1-0 in the best of seven series.

Sports Headliners has been told gross receipts from ticket sales for home Gophers football increased last season, totaling $11,889,168 after generating $10,744,555 in 2016, according to a University of Minnesota source. In 2015 six of seven home games were sold out, or near sellouts, with gross receipts of $13,396,171.

The Gopher baseball team has two 9-0 pitchers in freshman Patrick Fredrickson and sophomore Brett Schulze. Fredrickson, the Big Ten’s Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year, ranks No. 15 in the nation with his 1.78 ERA.

Minnesota is the favorite in the NCAA Tournament’s Minneapolis Regional that starts Friday at Siebert Field and will be televised nationally on the ESPN family of networks.

The Twins start their most important series so far this season tomorrow night at home against the Central Division leading Indians. After next Sunday’s fourth and final series game the Twins could possibly be in first place or far behind in the division race. Going into tonight’s game at Kansas City against the Royals, Minnesota is 4.5 games behind the Indians.

The likely Twins starters in the Cleveland series are Jake Odorizzi, Jose Berrios, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. The Indians’ probables are Shane Bleber, Carlos CarrascoTrevor Bauer, and a fourth pitcher to be determined.

St. Paul Saints owner Mike Veeck talking about what people don’t know about him: “I am a failed musician. For a hobby, I play the guitar. I love to write songs. If you hand me a guitar and give me three words about you, or your loved ones, or your children, or your automobile, I have the ability to write a rhyme. I can rhyme and play.”

Former Gophers basketball player Quincy Lewis is interim director of the M Club that recognizes and serves University of Minnesota letter winners.

Mike Goldammer, the former executive director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section, is now in Alabama where he is Director of Tennis for Center Court Tuscaloosa.

The Vikings, going through OTAs now, have one punter (Ryan Quigley) on the roster, but two placekickers in veteran Kai Forbath and rookie Daniel Carlson from Auburn. Forbath, 30, has six years of experience in the NFL and was the Vikings’ kicker last season when in early December he had missed five extra points before being perfect the remainder of the schedule. Carlson, who the Vikings used a fifth round pick to select, was 198-for-198 on extra points in college—although from a shorter distance than in the NFL.

Mike Zimmer

How long does Vikings coach Mike Zimmer see the competition lasting between Forbath and Carlson?

“I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. If one guy is way ahead of the other guy then we might make the change sooner, so the other guy gets all the reps.

“One thing you have to be careful a little bit about is there are not 65,000 people screaming (and) doing the Skol chant and all those other things when you’re out there kicking (in OTAs). If they miss a game winner here today, it’s probably not the same (as) if they miss a game winner September 9th (season opener).”

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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