What were the stories that shaped Minnesota sports in 2017? Here are the top 10 as voted on by the FOXSportsNorth.com staff.
Others receiving votes
Not making the cut but garnering votes (in order of total):
-- Jimmy Butler gives out his phone number at his introductory press conference
-- Lynx's Sylvia Fowles wins WNBA MVP Award
-- Adam Thielen becomes the first Vikings receiver since 2009 to reach 1,000 yards
-- Twins make moves in free agency, sign pitchers Michael Pineda and Fernando Rodney
-- Richard Pitino named Big Ten coach of the year
-- Gophers basketball ranked in AP top 25 for first time since February 2013
-- Vikings lose rookie RB Dalvin Cook to ACL injury after promising start
-- Casey Mittelstadt taken No. 8 overall in NHL draft after returning to Eden Prairie for his senior season
Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier become first Twins to win a Gold Glove since 2010
It had been nearly a decade since a Minnesota player had received a defensive award, but with Buxton patrolling center field now it seems like it might be another decade before the Twins are shut out. Buxton had numerous highlight-reel catches in 2017 and was named the Platinum Glove winner in the American League. Meanwhile, Dozier, known more for his bat, also joined Buxton, becoming just the second Twins second baseman to garner a Gold Glove and the first in 20 years.
Dan HamiltonDan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Teddy Bridgewater returns to the active roster 14 1/2 months after gruesome knee injury
When Bridgewater suffered his gruesome knee injury before the start of last season (voted our No. 1 top story of 2016), it wasn't a matter of when he'd play football again but if. No wonder Bridgewater was in tears on the day when he was put on Minnesota's gameday roster. Weeks later, he'd even see action late into the Vikings' blowout win over Cincinnati, prompting a standing ovation from Minnesota fans as well as his teammates (with starting quarterback Case Keenum leading the way).
Tracy Claeys fired as Minnesota head coach weeks after finishing 9-4 season with bowl game win and P.J. Fleck hired
It's not often a head coach is let go after a winning season and bowl win, but Minnesota did just that and then made a big splash by luring Fleck, long considered a rising coach, to helm the Gophers. The high-energy Fleck quickly brought over some of his tentpole saying like "row the boat" (i.e. RTB) and "elite." It remains to be seen if Fleck can do for Minnesota what he did for Western Michigan, but this was clearly an attempt by the Gophers to give their program some national acclaim and hopefully pay off big dividends.
Vikings don’t pick up Adrian Peterson's option, ending his 10-year career with the team
Synonymous with Minnesota since being drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft, Peterson's 10 years with the Vikings came to an end when he was allowed to become a free agent. Peterson rushed for 11,747 yards and 97 touchdowns with the Vikings -- both easily franchise records. But injuries and salary demands gave us the very strange sight of seeing Peterson in a Saints (and later Cardinals) uniform.
Wild set franchise record for wins and standings points
In Bruce Boudreau's first year as head coach in Minnesota, the Wild won 49 games and accumulated 106 points. It was just the third time the Wild had reached the century mark in points, having done it also in 2014-15 and 2006-07. The latter season had previously been the best in franchise history for wins (48) and points (104). Not anymore.
Bruce FedyckBruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Molitor wins American League Manager of the Year
Houston rolled to the American League West title with 101 victories and then won the World Series. Cleveland one-upped the Astros in the regular season, winning 102 games. But those teams were thought to be strong AL squads coming into the 2017 season. Molitor guided a team largely thought to end up near or in the AL Central basement to 85 wins and the playoffs. That impressive job netted him the award given to the best manager, and it's hard to argue that it wasn't well deserved.
Wolves make big moves: Trade for Jimmy Butler, deal Ricky Rubio, sign Jeff Teague
For Tom Thibodeau's second year as head coach in Minnesota, the Timberwolves shook up the roster, bringing in Butler, a strong two-way player who played for Thibs in Chicago, and Teague, more of a scorer than Rubio, who could pass with the best of them but always struggled with his shot. Adding the pair of veterans to the young corps of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins has produced results early on this season, as the Wolves are in line to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
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Case Keenum takes over at quarterback and leads Vikings to NFC North title
A free-agent insurance policy, Keenum has paid off 10 times over. When Sam Bradford went down early in the season with an injury -- and Bridgewater still unavailable -- Keenum took over as the starter and led Minnesota to 10 wins in the 13 games he played in (entering the final week of the season). Minnesota's 12 wins are the most since 2009 and if the Vikings win the season finale they'll have their most victories since 1998. We know what happened that season. If Keenum, who has the Vikings poised for a first-round playoff bye, can take this Minnesota team to the Super Bowl he'd surely be the No. 1 story next year -- as well as be in line for a nice contract in 2018, if the free-agent-to-be hasn't already set himself up for that already.
Lynx win fourth WNBA title in seven years
There's something about the Lynx and odd years. Minnesota beat Los Angeles three games to two to capture another WNBA championship -- each has come in an odd year, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. After beating the Sparks on the road to force a Game 5 in Minnesota, led by regular-season and Finals MVP Sylvia Fowles (17 points, 20 rebounds) and a clutch basket by mainstay Maya Moore with 26 seconds remaining, the Lynx were once again on top of the WNBA world, with the word dynasty not being thrown around lightly.
Twins make playoffs as a wild card one year after losing 103 games
The 2016 season for the Minnesota Twins was not fun. The 2017 season was historically fun. With a deep lineup which seemingly had a different clutch hitter every night, a strong bullpen and a starting staff anchored by Ervin Santana, Minnesota became the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs a year after losing 100+ games. A baseball first? That gets you No. 1 on this list.