Bob Naegele Jr. Dies, Remembered For Reviving NHL In Minnesota
Former Wild Owner BOB NAEGELE JR., the "hometown kid who played the most pivotal role in bringing the NHL back to the Twin Cities two decades ago, died on Wednesday night due to complications from cancer" at the age of 78, according to Dane Mizutani of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Naegele's Minnesota Sports & Entertainment group bought an expansion franchise for $80M in June '97 and contributed $45M "toward building the Xcel Energy Center." To honor Naegele, the Wild "will wear a patch with the initials 'BN' on their jerseys for the remainder of the season." Naegele was the Wild’s majority owner "until he sold the team" to CRAIG LEIPOLD in January '08 for a "deal believed to be worth" $250M (TWINCITIES.com, 11/8). NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN in a statement said, "More than 20 years ago, Bob had a vision -- to return NHL hockey to the Twin Cities and to ensure that the great fans in the State of Hockey would have a state-of-the-art arena in which to cheer for their beloved Wild." In Minneapolis, John Reinan noted Naegele "won the NHL's Lester Patrick Award for service to hockey in the U.S." in '08 (STARTRIBUNE.com, 11/8).
CALL OF THE WILD: THE ATHLETIC's Michael Russo wrote hockey fans owe Naegele a "debt of gratitude." He is the "man who brought NHL hockey back to hockey-loving, hockey-rich Minnesota after hockey fans had, as Naegele often said, their hearts ripped out when the North Stars left town." BOB NAEGELE III said his father "loved the role he played to bring the NHL back to the State of Hockey." Naegele III: "He was the perfect guy at the perfect time because it was never about him. It was all about his love and passion for the game." He added, “He treated everyone the same. And he’s done that his whole life.” Russo noted when Naegele sold the team to Leipold, every Wild employee "received a check in the mail from Naegele" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/8).