John Shipley / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Jimmy Butler has invited Timberwolves fans to boo him when he returns to Target Center for the home opener on Friday, Oct. 19. Good idea, but why stop there? Boo Tom Thibodeau for trying to shoehorn a rebuilding team through an impossibly narrow shortcut. Boo Andrew Wiggins for taking a max contract and disappearing when games are on the line. Boo owner Glen Taylor for hiring the wrong people at nearly every turn, and firing the right guy when he managed to get it right.
MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Timberwolves open the regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 17, in San Antonio, and play for the first time at home on Friday, Oct. 19, against Cleveland. Asked if he expected to be booed in his return to Target Center, all-star guard Jimmy Butler suggested fans go ahead and let loose. "Boo me," Butler said after Sunday's practice at Mayo Clinic Square. "Ain't going to change the way I play; probably going to make me smile more. Please, come on with it."
MINNEAPOLIS — Even the most dysfunctional families find a way to carry on with day-to-day activities, and so it was that the Minnesota Timberwolves spent Sunday, Oct. 14, preparing for their regular-season opener Wednesday in San Antonio. There was a full team practice on the Mayo Clinic Square courts, and afterward select players talked to reporters while their teammates cooled down by working on their jump shots. One of those was Jimmy Butler, and there ended the normalcy.
ST. PAUL — As the NFL's two worst rushing teams prepare for a titanic showdown at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 14, let's check in with the "Never Cousins" crowd. Anyone? The Vikings enter the weekend 2-2-1 and back in the postseason picture after a gut-check, 23-21 victory at Philadelphia that really wasn't that close. Dan Bailey sealed the win with a clutch 52-yard field goal, but only because he missed attempts of 28 and 45 yards in the first quarter.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins finished on a strong note when a group of mostly unheralded prospects played hard for manager Paul Molitor and finished the season with a season-high, six-game winning streak. That last month of decent baseball was a nice surprise, but it's unlikely to be much of a factor in the Twins' offseason.
EAGAN, Minn. — Does Vikings coach Mike Zimmer think safety Andrew Sendejo is getting a reputation among NFL referees? "Yeah," Zimmer said Monday, Oct. 8. "Probably." Sendejo was penalized under the NFL's targeting rules for the second time in five games this season late in the Vikings' 23-21 victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia. Identified as a "repeat offender," Sendejo could be suspended for Sunday's noon kickoff against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Asked Monday if he expected a suspension, Sendejo said, "Uh, no."
ST. PAUL — The Wild have three practices before playing again Thursday, Oct. 11, against the Chicago Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center. There is plenty to work on, and a few early changes. During practice Monday at TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul, coach Bruce Boudreau tweaked all but the fourth line after the Wild managed just one goal each in season-opening losses to Colorado and Vegas. "Obviously, we didn't have much offense, so something's got to change, right?" Boudreau said.
ST. PAUL — Promising young forward Luke Kunin continues inching closer to being medically cleared to play in a game. Cleared for contact this week, Kunin took and passed Wild coach Bruce Boudreau's infamous skate test on Saturday morning, Oct. 6. The question is whether he will stay with the NHL team when he is, or be sent to AHL Iowa to get ready. "That's not my call," Boudreau said.
ST. PAUL—Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu started playing on the same line late last season, in part because Parise didn't join the Wild until January after recovering from back surgery. The veteran left wing and center have played together at times since Parise joined the team in 2012, but the two really clicked down the stretch last season—and started where they left off in the season opener Thursday, Oct. 4, at Colorado.
ST. PAUL — My friend Hank had a metaphor for the human proclivity to extend bad relationships. It was like, he said, taking a gallon of spoiled milk and putting it back in the refrigerator. "Maybe," he'd say with feigned enthusiasm, "it will get fresh again!" Tom Thibodeau, take note. Don't try putting Jimmy Butler back in the fridge.