Sunday, Sep. 27, 2020

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How Do Wilfs React to Viking Loss?


What is Vikings ownership thinking today after Saturday’s embarrassing 27-10 loss to the 49ers that knocked its team out of the playoffs?

The Vikings won their opening playoff game January 5 with an impressive win over the Saints. In advance of that game, team president and owner Mark Wilf issued a statement of confidence in coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman who have contracts only through this year. The Wilf ownership made clear it had “every intent” of retaining the two in the future.

Owner Zygi Wilf has been on record about his vision to see the team in the Super Bowl. The Wilfs have owned the franchise since 2005 without realizing their dream. Spielman has been a leader in formulating player personnel decisions since 2006 and had full authority since 2012. Zimmer has been head coach since 2014, making the playoffs three times and winning two NFC North titles with a Spielman produced roster led by a number of outstanding players.

Mike Zimmer

Sometimes votes of confidence don’t last long. If the Wilfs decided in the coming weeks to move on from Spielman and Zimmer they would appease a mob of critics who want a change. Fans are hot after yesterday’s game that saw the Vikings look out coached, while generating just seven first downs and not able to match the aggression of the 49ers.

Fans can act passionately, even irrationally. Owners need to be more cautious. Despite their “warts” like a leaky offensive line that never seems to completely get repaired, the Vikings aren’t a broken team like so many in the NFL. Spielman and Zimmer are good at what they do. They are also high character leaders.

The question the Wilfs have to answer is whether those two give the Vikings the best chance of fielding an elite team? With that question comes another: If and when the owners want to make a change, can they identify the leadership that will take the Vikings to the next level?

Worth Noting

Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber talking on KFAN Radio after yesterday’s game with the 49ers: “They Mike Tyson punched us in the face. That was about it.”

Jerry Burns, head coach of the 1987 Vikings team that won its first two playoff games in 1988 including against the 49ers on the road, turns 93 January 24 and still lives in the Minneapolis area.

While Target Field seating capacity for baseball is 38,544, a hockey insider told Sports Headliners 34,000 seats will be available for the 2021 NHL Winter Classic next January at the downtown Minneapolis ballpark. He predicted it will be several weeks before tickets go on sale, with Minnesota Wild season ticket holders having priority. He also said NHL representatives were in town last week to look at the outdoor venue that will match the Wild against an as yet unannounced opponent.

The  Wild has lost four of its last five games and is near the bottom in the Western Conference’s Central Division. The Wild also trails division rivals in goals, and the team’s lack of scoring could result in the franchise missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

If that results in a coaching change, might South St. Paul native Phil Housley be the successor to Bruce Boudreau? Housley, an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes, is friends with new Wild general manager Bill Guerin.

The guess here is the Twins won’t make the highest offer to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson and he will sign with another team.

The Twins’ starting infield for their season opener March 26 in Oakland could be: Miguel Sano, first base; Luis Arraez, second base; Jorge Polanco, shortstop; Marwin Gonzalez, third base.

In 2021 that infield could look like this: Sano, first base; Polanco, second base, Royce Lewis, shortstop; and Arraez, third base.

Quoting Dick Jonckowski at the January 9 CORES luncheon in Bloomington: “If baseball is a religion, we should be in good shape with (Dave) St. Peter heading the Twins.”

March 17 will be the release date for Game Used, the book about longtime Twins TV broadcaster Dick Bremer. Author Jim Bruton said Bremer will do book signings in southwest Florida during Twins spring training.

Announced attendance for the Timberwolves home game Thursday night was 13,720 but a source said about 6,000 fans were in Target Center. Celebrities in the crowd included Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck and Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Tracy Claeys resigned during the season last fall as Washington State’s defensive coordinator and is now the linebackers coach at Virginia Tech. If not for that resignation, the former Gophers head coach might be positioned as an internal candidate for the head job at WSU which opened up last week when Mike Leach left for Mississippi State.

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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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