New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are a professional ice hockey team based in New York City. They are members of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League; the team plays its home games at Madison Square Garden in the borough of Manhattan, an arena they share with the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association. They are one of three NHL teams located in the New York metropolitan area; the Rangers are one of the Original Six, along with the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, to compete in the NHL until the league's expansion in 1967, after the team was founded in 1926 by Tex Rickard. The team attained success early on under the guidance of Lester Patrick, who coached a vibrant team containing Frank Boucher, Murray Murdoch, Bun and Bill Cook to Stanley Cup glory in 1928, making them the first NHL franchise in the United States to win the trophy; the team would go onto win two additional Stanley Cups in 1933 and 1940.
Following this initial grace period, the franchise struggled between the 1940s and 1960s, whereby playoff appearances and success was infrequent. The team enjoyed a mini renaissance in the 1970s, where they made the Stanley Cup finals twice, losing to the Bruins in 1972 and the Canadiens in 1979; the Rangers subsequently embraced a rebuild for much of the 1980s and early 1990s, which paid dividends, where the team, led by Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, Mike Richter, captured their fourth Stanley Cup in 1994. The team was unable to duplicate that success in the years that followed, entered into another period of mediocrity, enduring a franchise-record seven-year postseason drought from 1998 to 2005, languished for the majority of the 2000s, but reached another Stanley Cup finals in 2014, being led by Martin St. Louis. However, they have since entered into another period of rebuilding. Several former members of the Rangers have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, four of whom—Buddy O'Connor, Chuck Rayner, Andy Bathgate, Messier—have won the Hart Memorial Trophy while playing for the team.
George Lewis "Tex" Rickard, president of Madison Square Garden, was awarded an NHL franchise for the 1926–27 season to compete with the now-defunct New York Americans, who had begun play at the Garden the previous season. The Americans proved to be an greater success than expected during their inaugural season, leading Rickard to pursue a second team for the Garden despite promising the Amerks that they were going to be the only hockey team to play there; the new team was nicknamed "Tex's Rangers". Rickard's franchise began play in the 1926–27 season; the first team crest was a horse sketched in blue carrying a cowboy waving a hockey stick aloft, before being changed to the familiar R-A-N-G-E-R-S in diagonal. Rickard managed to get future legendary Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe to assemble the team. However, Smythe had a falling-out with Rickard's hockey man, Col. John S. Hammond, was fired as manager-coach on the eve of the first season—he was paid a then-hefty $2,500 to leave. Smythe was replaced by Pacific Coast Hockey Association co-founder Lester Patrick.
The new team Smythe assembled turned out to be a winner. The Rangers won the American Division title their first year but lost to the Boston Bruins in the playoffs; the team's early success led to players becoming minor celebrities and fixtures in New York City's Roaring Twenties' nightlife. It was during this time, playing at the Garden on 48th Street, blocks away from Times Square, that the Rangers obtained their now-famous nickname "The Broadway Blueshirts". On December 13, 1929, the New York Rangers became the first team in the NHL to travel by plane when they hired the Curtiss-Wright Corporation to fly them to Toronto for a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which they lost 7–6. In only their second season, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, defeating the Montreal Maroons three games to two. One of the most memorable stories that emerged from the finals involved Patrick playing in goal at the age of 44. At the time, teams were not required to dress a backup goaltender, so when the Rangers' starting goaltender, Lorne Chabot, left a game with an eye injury, Maroons head coach Eddie Gerard vetoed his original choice for a replacement.
An angry Patrick lined up between the pipes for two periods in Game 2 of the finals, allowing one goal to Maroons center Nels Stewart. Frank Boucher scored the game-winning goal in overtime for New York. After a loss to the Bruins in the 1928–29 finals and an early struggle in the early 1930s, the Rangers, led by brothers Bill and Bun Cook on the right and left wings and Frank Boucher at center, defeated the Maple Leafs in the 1932–33 best-of-five finals three games to one to win their second Stanley Cup, exacting revenge on the Leafs' "Kid line" of Busher Jackson, Joe Primeau and Charlie Conacher; the Rangers spent the rest of the 1930s playing close to 0.500 hockey. Lester Patrick was replaced by Frank Boucher. In 1939–40 season, the Rangers finished the regular season in second place behind Boston; the two teams met in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins gained a two-games-to-one series lead from New York, but the Rangers recovered to win three-straight games, defeating the first-place Bruins four games to two.
The Rangers' first round victory gave them a bye until the finals. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the New York Americans in their first round best-of-three series two games to one (even as the Americans had analytical a
Goals against average
Goals Against Average is a statistic used in field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse and water polo, the mean of goals allowed per game by a goaltender/goalkeeper. GAA is analogous to a baseball pitcher. In Japanese, the same translation is used for both ERA, because of this. For ice hockey, the goals against average statistic is the number of goals a goaltender allows per 60 minutes of playing time, it is calculated by taking the number of goals against, multiply that by 60 and dividing by the number of minutes played. When calculating GAA, overtime goals and time on ice are included, whereas empty net and shootout goals are not, it is given to two decimal places. The top goaltenders in the National Hockey League have a GAA of about 1.85-2.10, although the measure of a good GAA changes as different playing styles come and go. The top goaltenders in the National Lacrosse League however have a GAA of about 10.00, the top 2005 Western Lacrosse Association goaltenders had a GAA of about 9.00. At their best, elite NCAA water polo goalies have a GAA between 3.00 and 5.00.
Since the statistic is dependent on the team playing in front of a goalie, save percentage is considered a more accurate measure of a goaltender's skill in ice hockey and lacrosse, as it takes into account the number of shots the goaltender has faced. In soccer, since it is considered a part of the goalkeeper's job to coach defenders on proper positioning to prevent opponents' shots, GAA is more used to evaluate goalkeepers than save percentage
Andrew Joseph Ernest Raycroft is a Canadian former professional ice hockey goaltender. Drafted by the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League 135th overall in 1998, he won the Calder Memorial Trophy with the club in 2004 as rookie of the year. Raycroft has played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Dallas Stars, Hockey Milano Rossoblu and IF Björklöven. Since 2014, he has been a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Connecticut's men's hockey team. Raycroft is a studio analyst for the Boston Bruins broadcasts on NESN and a host on the hockey podcast Breaking The Ice. Prior to entering the junior hockey ranks, Raycroft grew up playing minor hockey with the Quinte Red Devils AAA system in the Eastern Ontario AAA League of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association. In 1997–98, he began a three-year career in the Ontario Hockey League, playing for the Kingston Frontenacs and Sudbury Wolves, he played junior for the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League.
Raycroft was drafted 135th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in 2000–01 with the Bruins, replacing Byron Dafoe in a 5–1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. However, as a late-game replacement, he was not given the decision. Raycroft recorded his first NHL win two days on October 9 in a 4–2 win over the Florida Panthers. Raycroft played 11 games total for the Bruins in his first season, while playing the majority of his first three professional seasons with the team's minor league affiliate, the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. After the Bruins renewed his contract on July 31, 2003, Raycroft played his first full NHL season in 2003–04, compiling a 29–18–9 record with a 2.05 goals against average.926 save percentage and three shutouts. He helped lead the Bruins to a second-place finish in the regular season in the Eastern Conference en route to the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs. Not having played enough games to qualify as a rookie in his previous three NHL seasons, Raycroft was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2004 as league rookie of the year.
Due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Raycroft signed with Djurgårdens IF of the Swedish Elitserien on November 6, 2004. However, he did not play any games for the team and signed with Tappara Tampere of the Finnish SM-liiga several months on January 17, 2005; when NHL play resumed, he struggled with the Bruins in the 2005–06 season, managing only eight wins while being a healthy scratch for the majority of the season. He was demoted to the Bruins' third-string position to starter Tim Thomas and rookie backup Hannu Toivonen; the following off-season, on June 24, 2006, Raycroft was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the rights to Finnish goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask. It was revealed the Bruins intended to release him, which would have made him available to Toronto without any compensation at all, he began playing for the Maple Leafs in the 2006–07 season and earned his first shutout and win as a Leaf in a 6-0 victory against the Ottawa Senators on October 5, 2006. On April 3, 2007, Raycroft tied the Leafs' franchise record for most wins by a goaltender in the regular season held by Ed Belfour in 2002–03.
Despite this record, he finished 49th in GAA and 56th in save percentage as the Leafs failed to qualify for the playoffs. Raycroft struggled at the start of the 2007–08 season and surrendered the starting position to Vesa Toskala; the Leafs placed him on waivers on June 24, 2008, bought out the remainder of his contract on June 27. Several days after being bought out by the Maple Leafs, on July 1, he signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Despite being brought in to back-up Peter Budaj, Raycroft started the 2008–09 season strong, becoming only the second Avalanche goaltender to begin a season with a 9–1 record. In 31 games with the Avalanche, Raycroft posted a 12-16-0 record with a 3.14 GAA. On July 6, 2009, Raycroft signed a one-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks, he earned the backup position behind Roberto Luongo after competing with prospect Cory Schneider during training camp. He recorded his first win with the Canucks in his first start on October 29 in a 2–1 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings after Luongo was sidelined with a fractured rib.
Raycroft faced his former Avalanche teammates several days on November 1 and recorded his first shutout as a Canuck in a 3–0 win. Raycroft won his 100th NHL career game on February 12, 2010, in a 4–3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. On July 1, 2010, Raycroft signed a two-year contract as a free agent with the Dallas Stars, he compiled an 8–5 record with a 2.83 GAA in his first season in Dallas, backing-up Stars starter Kari Lehtonen. On December 29, 2011, Raycroft was assigned to the Dallas Stars' AHL affiliate. Richard Bachman replaced Raycroft as backup to the Stars starter Lehtonen, he played in the minors for the remainder of his contract. On July 3, 2012, with little NHL interest and an impending lockout on the horizon, Raycroft left his North American career to begin a new venture in Europe by signing to a one-year deal with Italian Serie A club, Milano Rossoblu; the Italian team has been in proposed talks to join the Kontinental Hockey League. On July 15, 2013, it was announced. On April 9, 2014, Raycroft announced his retirement from professional hockey.
He has since joined the Connecticut Huskies men's ice hockey as a volunteer assistant coach. OHL Named to the First All-Star Team in 1999–2000. Named the OHL Goaltender of the Year in 1999–
The ECHL is a mid-level professional ice hockey league based in Princeton, New Jersey, with teams scattered across the United States and two franchises in Canada. It is a tier below the American Hockey League; the ECHL and the AHL are the only minor leagues recognized by the collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association, meaning any player signed to an entry-level NHL contract and designated for assignment must report to a club in either the ECHL or the AHL. Additionally, the league's players are represented by the Professional Hockey Players' Association in negotiations with the ECHL itself; some 623 players have played at least one game in both the NHL and the ECHL. For the 2018–19 season, 25 of 31 National Hockey League teams have affiliations with an ECHL team with the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, San Jose Sharks having no official affiliations as of September 29, 2018.
The two independent teams are Rapid City Rush. However, unaffiliated NHL teams do sometimes lend contracted players to ECHL teams for development and increased playing time; the league's regular season ends in April. The current ECHL champion is the Colorado Eagles, although the organization has since left the league to join the American Hockey League; the league, which combined teams from the defunct Atlantic Coast Hockey League and All-American Hockey League, began play as the East Coast Hockey League in 1988 with 5 teams—the Carolina Thunderbirds. In 2003, the West Coast Hockey League ceased operations, the ECHL Board of Governors approved membership applications from the Anchorage/Alaska Aces, the Bakersfield Condors, the Fresno Falcons, the Idaho Steelheads, the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Long Beach Ice Dogs and the San Diego Gulls as well as from potential teams in Ontario and Reno, Nevada. Alaska, Fresno, Las Vegas, Long Beach and San Diego began play in the 2003–04 season as expansion teams.
In a change reflective of the league's now-nationwide presence, the East Coast Hockey League shortened its name to the orphan initialism ECHL on May 19, 2003. The ECHL reached its largest size to date that season before being reduced to 28 teams for the 2004–05 season; the ECHL has attempted to be more tech-friendly to its fans. Some improvements on the league's website have included a new schedule and statistics engine powered by League Stat, Inc. internet radio coverage for most teams, pay-per view broadcasting of ECHL games through B2 Networks. In 2008, the league introduced the ECHL toolbar for internet browsers which gave users short cut access to statistics, scores and news updates. At the annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting on June 15, 2010, in Henderson, the Board of Governors approved changes to the names of the conferences and divisions; the former American Conference was renamed the Eastern Conference, while the National Conference was re-designated the Western Conference. Within the Eastern Conference, the East Division was renamed the Atlantic Division, the Western Conference's former West Division was dubbed the Mountain Division.
The league lost its only Canadian team with the folding of the Victoria Salmon Kings subsequent to the 2010–11 season. The league increased to 20 teams for the 2011–12 season with the addition of the expansion franchise Chicago Express and the Colorado Eagles who played in the Central Hockey League. With the folding of the Chicago Express at the conclusion of the 2011–12 season and the announcement of expansion franchises in Orlando, San Francisco and Fort Wayne the league played the 2012–13 season with 23 teams; that number dropped to 22 for the 2013–14 season with the folding of the Trenton Titans and subsequently fell to 21 with the mid-season folding of the San Francisco Bulls on January 27, 2014. On November 26, 2013, the ECHL announced that the Indy Fuel would begin play for the 2014–15 season and would play its home games at the Fairgrounds Coliseum, a 6,145-seat building located on the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. On October 7, 2014, the ECHL announced that the seven remaining active members of the Central Hockey League would be admitted as new members for the 2014–15 season, raising the number of teams to 28 and placing a team in Canada for the first time since 2011.
Before the 2015–16 season, the AHL's creation of a Pacific Division led the three California ECHL teams to relocate to former AHL cities with the Bakersfield Condors, Ontario Reign, Stockton Thunder relocating to become the Norfolk Admirals, Manchester Monarchs, Adirondack Thunder, respectively. By the 2018–19 season, the ECHL had expanded into other markets vacated by the AHL in the Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Worcester Railers. Notes Representatives from all potential expansion franchises, markets that have been granted expansion franchises and franchises that have suspended operations must attend th
In ice hockey, the goaltender or goalie or goalkeeper is the player responsible for preventing the hockey puck from entering their team's net, thus preventing the opposing team from scoring. The goaltender plays in or near the area in front of the net called the goal crease. Goaltenders tend to stay beyond the top of the crease to cut down on the angle of shots. In today's age of goaltending there are two common styles and hybrid; because of the power of shots, the goaltender wears special equipment designed to protect the body from direct impact. The goalie is one of the most valuable players on the ice, as their performance can change the outcome or score of the game. One-on-one situations, such as breakaways and shootouts, have the tendency to highlight a goaltender's pure skill, or lack thereof. No more than one goaltender is allowed to be on the ice for each team at any given time. Teams are not required to use a goaltender and may instead opt to play with an additional skater, but the defensive disadvantage this poses means that the strategy is only used as a desperation maneuver when trailing late in a game or can be used if the opposing team has a delayed penalty.
The goaltender is known as the goalie, goalkeeper, net minder, tender by those involved in the hockey community. In the early days of the sport, the term was spelled with a hyphen as goal-tender; the art of playing the position is called goaltending and there are coaches called the goalie coach who specialize in working with goaltenders. The variation goalie is used for items associated with the position, such as goalie stick and goalie pads. Goaltending is a specialized position in ice hockey. At minor levels and recreational games, goaltenders do switch with others players that have been taught goaltending. A typical ice hockey team may have three goaltenders on its roster. Most teams have a starting goaltender who plays the majority of the regular season games and all of the playoffs, with the backup goaltender only stepping in if the starter is pulled or injured, or in cases where the schedule is too heavy for one goaltender to play every game; the NHL requires. The list provides goaltender options for visiting teams.
These goaltenders are to be called to a game if a team does not have two goaltenders to start the game. An "emergency" goaltender may be called if both roster goaltenders are injured in the same game; some teams have used a goaltender tandem where two goaltenders split the regular season playing duties, though one of them is considered the number one goaltender who gets the start in the playoffs. An example is the 1982-83 New York Islanders with Roland Melanson. Another instance is Grant Fuhr. In an unusual case the 1996-97 Philadelphia Flyers' Ron Hextall and Garth Snow alternated in the playoffs; the goaltender has training that other players do not. He wears special goaltending equipment, different from that worn by other players and is subject to specific regulations. Goaltenders may use any part of their bodies to block shots; the goaltender may hold the puck with his hands to cause a stoppage of play. If a player from the other team hits the goaltender without making an attempt to get out of his way, the offending player may be penalized.
In some leagues, if a goaltender's stick breaks, he can continue playing with a broken stick until the play is stopped, unlike other players who must drop any broken sticks immediately. Additionally, if a goaltender acts in such a way that would cause a normal player to be given a penalty, such as slashing or tripping another player, the goaltender cannot be sent to the penalty box. Instead, one of the goaltender's teammates, on the ice at the time of the infraction is sent to the penalty box in his place. However, the goaltender does receive the penalty minutes on the scoresheet. If the goaltender receives a Game Misconduct or Match penalty, he is removed from the ice and a replacement goaltender is played; the goaltender plays in or near the goal crease the entire game, unlike the other positions where players are on ice for shifts and make line changes. However, goaltenders are pulled if they have allowed several goals in a short period of time, whether they were at fault for the surrendered goals or not, a substituted goaltender does not return for the rest of the game.
In 1995, Patrick Roy was famously kept in net by the head coach as "humiliation" despite allowing nine goals
The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmonton, Alberta. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League; the Oilers were founded in 1971 by W. D. "Wild Bill" Hunter and Dr. Chuck Allard; the team played its first season in 1972, as one of the twelve founding franchises of the major professional World Hockey Association. They were intended to be one of two WHA Alberta teams, along with the Calgary Broncos. However, when the Broncos relocated to Cleveland, before the WHA's first season began, the Oilers were renamed the Alberta Oilers, they returned to their current name in the following year, subsequently joined the NHL in 1979 as one of four franchises absorbed through the NHL merger with the WHA. After joining the NHL, the Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup on five occasions: 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88 and 1989–90. Along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, they are tied for the most championships won by any team since the NHL-WHA merger and the most won by any team that joined the league in or after 1967.
Among all NHL teams, only the Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup more times since the League's 1967 expansion. For their success in the 1980s, the Oilers team of this era has been honoured with dynasty status by the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, the Oilers began to struggle shortly after the 2004–05 NHL lockout, having missed the playoffs every year since 2006, with the exception of 2016–17; the Oilers have drafted 12 first round selections since 2007, 10 of which were within the first 10 draft choices overall, 6 of those picks were within the first 4 picks overall, 4 of those 6 were first overall selections. In the NHL Entry Draft Edmonton Selected first overall Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Connor McDavid with those picks, only two of those players remain with the Oilers today; the Oilers are one of two NHL franchises based in Alberta. Their close proximity to each other has led to a fierce rivalry known as the "Battle of Alberta". On November 1, 1971, the Edmonton Oilers became 1 of the 12 founding WHA franchises.
The original owners were "Wild Bill" Hunter and partner, Dr. Charles A. "Chuck" Allard who, a decade also brought the SCTV sketch comedy TV series to Edmonton. Hunter owned the Edmonton Oil Kings, a junior hockey franchise, founded the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League. Hunter's efforts to bring major professional hockey to Edmonton via an expansion NHL franchise had been rebuffed by the NHL. So, he looked to the upstart WHA instead, it was Hunter. This was a name, used as a nickname for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 1950s and 1960s. Hunter served as head coach during the 1972–73, 1974–75, 1975–76 seasons, the Oilers' mascot, Hunter, is named in his honour. After the newly founded Calgary Broncos folded prior to commencement of the inaugural WHA season, the Oilers were renamed the Alberta Oilers as it was planned to split their home games between Edmonton and Calgary. For financial reasons or to allow for a less complicated return of the WHA to Calgary, the team played all of its home games in the Edmonton Gardens and changed its name back to the Edmonton Oilers the following year.
They won the first game in WHA history 7–4 over the Ottawa Nationals. The Oilers drew fans with players such as defenceman and team captain Al Hamilton, goaltender Dave Dryden and forwards Blair MacDonald and Bill Flett. However, a little-noticed move in 1976 would have an important impact on the history of the franchise; that year, journeyman forward Glen Sather was acquired by the Oilers. It turned out to be his final season as a player and was named player-coach late in the season, moving to the bench full-time after the season. Sather would be the coach or general manager of the Oilers for the next 23 years. Although the Oilers' on-ice performance for most of the WHA's history was mediocre, they remained well-supported and financially stable by WHA standards. In 1976, Hunter and Allard sold the franchise to Vancouver real estate tycoon Nelson Skalbania, who would become notorious for flipping property, both real and franchised. Skalbania soon made Peter Pocklington a full partner sold his shares to him the following year.
The team's fortunes improved in 1978 when Pocklington acquired underage player Wayne Gretzky, as well as goaltender Eddie Mio and forward Peter Driscoll, for cash, from Skalbania's folded Indianapolis Racers. His first year of WHA experience prevented Gretzky from being an official 1979–80 NHL rookie). However, Edmonton failed to win the championship, as they fell to the Winnipeg Jets in the Avco World Trophy Final. Dave Semenko of the Oilers scored the last goal in WHA history in the third period of the final game, which they lost 7–3; the Oilers joined the NHL for 1979–80, along with fellow WHA teams Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and the Jets following a merger agreement between the two leagues. Of these four teams, only Edmonton has avoided renaming; the Oilers lost most of the players from 1978–79 when the NHL held a reclamation draft of players who had bolted to the upstart league as they were allowed to protect two goaltenders and two skill players. Gretzky was not el
The Minnesota Wild are a professional ice hockey team based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League; the Wild are the only Minneapolis–Saint Paul area major professional sports league franchise to play in Saint Paul until Minnesota United FC move to their new home, Allianz Field, in 2019. The other three teams play in Minneapolis; the Wild did not start play until the 2000 -- 01 season. The Wild were the first NHL franchise in Minnesota since the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993, they lost their first game, 3–1, to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and recorded their first win against the Tampa Bay Lightning five games later. The Wild play at the Xcel Energy Center. In the 2002–03 season, the team made its first Stanley Cup playoffs appearance, making a surprising run to the Western Conference Finals. Following the departure of the Minnesota North Stars after the 1993 season, the state of Minnesota was without an NHL team for seven seasons.
Saint Paul mayor Norm Coleman began a campaign to either recruit the relocation of an existing franchise to the city or the award of an expansion franchise to a Minnesota-based ownership group. These efforts came close to success in the mid-1990s when Minnesota interests purchased the original Winnipeg Jets with the intention of relocating the franchise to Minnesota. Shortly after the failed attempt to relocate the Jets, the NHL announced its intention to expand from 26 to 30 teams. Businessman and Minnetonka native Bob Naegele, Jr. became the lead investor for an application to the NHL for an expansion franchise and the first majority owner. On June 25, 1997, the National Hockey League announced that Minnesota had been awarded an expansion franchise, to begin play in the 2000–01 season; the six finalist team names for the new NHL franchise, were announced on November 20, 1997. Jac Sperling was named chief executive officer of the Minnesota team, Doug Risebrough was named general manager, Tod Leiweke was named President, Martha Fuller was named chief financial officer.
The team was named the Wild, with the unveiling occurring at Aldrich Arena in the suburb of Maplewood on January 22, 1998. The new name was introduced to everyone with the song "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf playing over the arena's speaker system; the Minnesota Wild announced its first major sponsorship agreement with MasterCard from First USA. It was the earliest that First USA had signed an agreement in advance of a team beginning play; the State of Minnesota adopted legislation in April, 1998 to loan $65 million to the City of Saint Paul to fund 50% of the estimated $130 million project costs for the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. The legislation provided that only $48 million of the loan needed to be repaid if the team met the requirements to have an agreement in place during the term of the lease with the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission; the City of Saint Paul issued an additional $65 million in bonds, with 90% of the debt service on the bonds and the repayment of the state loan coming from scheduled rent and payment in lieu of taxes from the Minnesota Wild.
Deconstruction of the Saint Paul Civic Center began soon thereafter and the Xcel Energy Center design was announced. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Xcel Energy Center was hosted in Saint Paul; the Minnesota Wild announced a 26-year partnership agreement with the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. The Minnesota Wild-MASC partnership is the first partnership of its kind between a private professional sports team and a public amateur sports organization. Doug Risebrough was named executive vice president/general manager of Minnesota Wild and the Xcel Energy Center was completed and ready for use; the Wild named Jacques Lemaire their first-ever head coach and the team picked Marian Gaborik third overall in the first round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Gaborik would go on to score the first goal for the Wild in their franchise debut on October 6 at Anaheim; the Wild played their first home game on October 11 against the Philadelphia Flyers and skated to a 3–3 tie. Minnesota native Darby Hendrickson scored the first-ever home goal for the Wild.
The team was not successful on the ice, but showed promise for future seasons. However, the most notable game of the year was the first visit of the Dallas Stars, who had played in Minnesota as the Minnesota North Stars; the Wild rode an emotional sellout crowd of over 18,000 to a 6–0 shutout in Dallas' first regular season game in Minnesota since a neutral-site game in 1993. The season ended with Scott Pellerin as the leading scorer with 39 points while Wes Walz, Darby Hendrickson and Gaborik paced the team with 18 goals each; the Wild would get off to a strong start in the 2001–02 season by earning at least one point in their first seven games. However, the Wild would finish in last place again with a record of 26–35–12–6. En route, there were signs the Wild were improving, as second-year speedster Gaborik had a solid sophomore season with 30 goals, including an invite to the NHL YoungStars Game, Andrew Brunette led the team in scoring with 69 points. Gaborik spent much of the 2002–03 season vying for the league scoring crown before slumping in the second half, the Wild, in their first playoff appearance, made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals before being swept 4–0 by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
The Wild had beaten the favored and third-seeded Colorado Avalanche in the first round in seven games, coming back from a 3–1 series deficit and w