|Vancouver Sun April 2003|
When it came right down to it, Richard Dean Anderson couldn't tell a lie. He said lots of nice things about the Vancouver Canucks, but when asked who he'll be cheering for on Friday, he confessed it would be the Minnesota Wild.
He knows this could get him into trouble with rabid Canucks fans. But before anyone with a blue-painted face gets mad at Anderson, you should know there's a good reason why Anderson loves the Wild: he was born and raised in Minnesota.
"I really, really like what I see in the Vancouver team. I'm genuinely excited by this matchup," Anderson said Thursday.
"The bottom line? I really can't lose in this matchup. I can't say I have equal allegiances. That's a cop out. I'll pull for my home state."
Anderson acknowledged how important Vancouver has been to his career, especially starring as Colonel Jack O'Neill in the locally produced science fiction series Stargate SG-1. He does admit to having cheered for the Canucks -- whenever they were playing any team other than the Wild.
But hockey . . . well, hockey has been a part of his life since he was a youngster.
Anderson is such a fan that right at the beginning of the interview, he said: "You're talking to a Minnesota boy -- the hotbed of hockey in the U.S."
Anderson played hockey as a child and fully expected to become a professional hockey player. But those dreams ran off the rails when he was in high school.
Anderson was about 16 when he broke his left arm on the ice. He was in a cast playing hockey again when he fell in such a way that he severely snapped his right arm and shattered his elbow, requiring reconstructive surgery and a stay of several months in hospital.
After that experience, he didn't strap on a pair of skates again for 18 years.
He was living in California in the 1980s, complaining about the state of the game and especially the yellow uniforms worn by the Los Angeles Kings. His girlfriend said stop whining and do something about it. So he did and started playing hockey again.
Over time, however, damaged knees led to reconstructive surgery and forced him to hang up the skates again. His hockey now is limited to watching it on TV.
Anderson was also very clear in an easy-going way about not being taken out of context. He'd had that experience before with the Vancouver media when he mentioned the words "rain" and "Vancouver" in the same sentence in an interview with CFOX. He quickly discovered that drawing attention to one of Vancouver's unique qualities was, as he said, "tantamount to sacrilege."
"Weighing my words very cautiously," Anderson said, "I have to be a Minnesota fan."
Anderson then presented his reasons. Besides spending his youth going through the state's minor hockey program, he cited the story about what happened to his beloved Minnesota North Stars.
"At the professional level, we got so screwed by -- I don't want to mention anyone's name -- Norm Green. He promised never to take the Stars out of the state and he moved them to Dallas," recalled Anderson who lives in Los Angeles and Vancouver and has a cabin in northern Minnesota.
(The Stars were moved south in 1993).
And then there's the team itself. The Wild is a small-budget squad in only its third year in the National Hockey League. Anderson loves how general manager Doug Risebrough and coach Jacques Lemaire have shaped a winning team without any superstars.
"I admire the Wild for that kind of team approach: kind of no-name young kids with an experienced, stoic coach. I'm really excited for the state," he said.
Watching the Wild play, he said, is like watching a college or high school team full of youthful exuberant players with legs that never stop.
Asked who will win Friday, Anderson said he's "not even going to take that bait." He wouldn't even say who will prevail in the seven-game series.
He was very firm on one thing, however. When asked how many games the series will go, he answered: "I think it will go eight games."
Another famous U.S. star in Vancouver also knows who he'll be cheering for.
"We're in Vancouver -- we're pulling for the Canucks," said Kurt Russell when asked which team he and his wife Goldie Hawn would be supporting in the series.
"Unfortunately, Goldie is out of town right now."
Russell, currently cast as hockey coach Herb Brooks in the movie The Miracle, said he'll be working, so he won't be able to attend Friday's game at GM Place.
"No, we're going for Vancouver. I went out the other night and ran into Brad May and [Todd] Bertuzzi and some of the guys. It was fun to see them. Those guys have worked hard and they should do well."
Asked if he was surprised by how hockey-crazy the city has become, Russell said: "I've been in lots of NHL cities when their teams are in the playoffs. They're all pretty much the same. They go crazy when their team gets in there."
Russell and Hawn are in Vancouver because their 16-year-old son Wyatt wanted to pursue a career in hockey. He's playing with the Richmond Sockeyes Junior B team.
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