The Beanpot of the Midwest? I don’t think so!!
There was some chatter on the internet today about the five D1 hockey school’s in Minnesota finalizing a deal to play a late January hockey tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. The tournament will feature the headline act, the University of Minnesota, along with defending National Champion, Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State, Bemidji State and Minnesota State.
It was also intimated that Minnesota would be a constant fixture in the tournament while the other also rans would rotate in from year to year. This seemed to create some angst among some hockey fans whose sentiment could be viewed as overtly democratic; some fans want every team to have an even share. In my view, school’s are out to make money and a team like Minnesota has earned the right to play who they want, when they want..sorrrrryyy! In a sport like college hockey where most programs actually lose money, only the strong survive and Minnesota is clearly the king of the castle.
Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi confirmed that a deal was imminent and the school’s are merely working on the details:
“We are very close to getting it done,” Maturi said. “It will be at the Xcel, that is what we are considering right now”
This whole thing, although good for the game of college hockey and the state of Minnesota, quite frankly, seems a bit contrived to me. History creates itself and doesn’t need a self proclamation in order to create a certain level of mystique. The initial underlying sentiment seems to suggest that this tournament will be the Beanpot of Minnesota as Julie Robenhymer suggested in her post on Hockey Buzz this morning.
Don’t get me wrong, Minnesota is one of the true hockey hot beds in the country and their fans are as passionate as they come. I will also admit that the Minnesota State High School Tournament is undoubtedly the most passionately followed schoolboy event anywhere in the United States. Only the Super Eight High School Hockey Tournament in Massachusetts could even come close to the prestige of Minnesota’s yearly championship. It can probably be best compared to the Texas High School Football State Tournament or perhaps the Indiana High School Basketball extravaganza portrayed so aptly in the movie Hoosiers. In other words, know your niche and stick to it.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history surrounding the Beanpot Tournament and its humble beginnings, let me fill you in. It is difficult to remember, given the infinite success it has become, what the Beanpot’s original intent was.
“It was designed as a filler,” says Northeastern’s Jack Grinold, the unofficial historian of all things Beanpot. “I mean, it was originally the first two nights after Christmas of 1952. It was to help the Arena on off nights. It’s way, way beyond that now.”
Truly great things are often formed by accident and lack intention for the most part; as was the case with the first Beanpot Tournament in 1952. It can relate to almost anything in life; take movies for example. If we overhype and build up a particular movie prior to its opening, it is bound to be a let down because we are denying that film the chance to simply live up to its own individual and unique expectations. It’s the reason that most Oscar winning films were obscure, non hyped films that we often aren’t touted until after the awards show.
When we find something truly special in life, we inherently look towards the next great version of that. When Michael Jordan retired we immediately started speculating and debating as to who the “next Michael Jordan” would be. First it was the forgettable bust, Harold Minor, then once he crumbled from the expectations we moved on to the likes of Grant Hill…Kobe Bryant (probably the closest we will see to MJ in my opinion). My point is that we as a society can never just appreciate things the way they are and seem to be in a perpetual search for the “next greatest ___”.
I am excited to see the college hockey world (yes, even beyond Hockey East) continue to evolve and gain exposure and big time events such as this potential Minnesota college tournament can only be of service to the sport itself. Lets just allow things to play out organically and not exxagerate the acclaim of a tournament that has not even been officially implemented.
Minnesota has their niche in the State High School Hockey Tournament so lets celebrate that fact. Lets also celebrate the fact that there WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER BEANPOT TOURNAMENT; and we should stop trying to create one.