Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 3/28/12
ST. PAUL, Minn. J.P. Parise had long been retired from the NHL when his former team, the Minnesota North Stars, were packed up and moved down to Dallas. Parise settled in Minnesota after his playing career ended, but the shock of the North Stars leaving didn't hit him right away in 1993 when owner Norm Green took the team to Texas. It wasn't until a year later when the arena he played in for nine seasons, the Met Center in Bloomington, was brought to the ground that the significance hit Parise. "It never really bothered me, but the day it really hit me after the fact was the day they destroyed the building," said Parise, who finished as the 10th leading scorer in North Stars history. "It kind of hit after. I was up there by myself and it was just a feeling that was gone, emptiness, everything was gone. That kind of removed all the memories, all the stuff you think about." When the team was moved to Dallas, it left an empty feeling for hockey fans in Minnesota. It wasn't until four years later that an expansion franchise was designated to return the NHL to the state and seven years until play began. But the organization's history left with the name in 1993. "It was devastating," said former North Stars player and current Wild radio broadcaster Tom Reid. "It was devastating certainly to us as players who make their home here. It was devastating to the fans of Minnesota and we lost a lot of the history of the team in that. "That was a bad deal for everyone concerned and we were very fortunate because Bob Naegele took it upon himself along with Jac Sperling and Mayor Norm Coleman at the time to bring a team back here, instituting the approach that this is going to be a hockey state again, and they've certainly done that." The North Stars are being honored in Minnesota this week. Former players have gotten together to play charity games and have played golf, but it will be the first time they've been celebrated as a group as part of events with the Minnesota Wild, who started play in 2000 finally filling the void long left by the North Stars. Over 30 former North Stars players are in town and will be honored as part of the Wild's home game Thursday, March 29 against the Florida Panthers. There is also an "Evening with the Stars" event on Friday, where fans will have the chance to meet North Stars alumni. Wednesday, seven former North Stars gathered at Tom Reid's Hockey City pub in St. Paul as mayor Chris Coleman read a proclamation declaring March 29-31 as North Stars Alumni Weekend. "It's been a lot of work to bring this together, but it's something that should have happened a long time ago," said Brad Maxwell, who spent eight seasons with the North Stars and has helped put this week's reunion together. It was an acrimonious departure in 1993 and created resentment toward owner Norm Green. Minnesota fans felt betrayed. Former players were saddened. "I think everybody was a little flustered at the time," Maxwell said. "It's not so much as when they left as why they left. A lot of people around town know what that was. I'm not going to get into it, but it left a bad taste here. I just think that, on the positive side, I just hope we can do something back here." The North Stars spent 26 seasons in Minnesota, all played at the Met Center. They made the playoffs in 17 of those seasons. After making four straight playoff appearances, including a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in 1991, the North Stars finished 36-38-10 in 1993 and Green moved the team citing poor attendance and the inability to get a new arena. The former players lament the lost history after the team left. The "North" in the North Stars name was dropped after the move and with it, a sense of the team that once was. Maxwell likened the former players to "lost sheep" at the time. "The North Stars belong here," Maxwell said. "The logo belongs here just like the Viking logo belongs here, the Twins logo --it belongs in Minnesota. They aren't meant to be moved. So, I'm hoping something can be done with that, but that's maybe down the road something that could happen." While the team is gone, the feeling has never really left Minnesota. "When you look in the stands, you see so much North Stars jerseys, hats," Reid said. "The North Stars never left in my mind, never left the state of Minnesota because they have the Stars, but they aren't the North Stars. That history is part of this, the heritage of this place, there's no question that people remember it and remember it well." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
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