Minnesota Freeze C Tanner Everest has shown a great deal of promise this season. He has persevered through injury and posted promising stats that suggest he could be in the SHL sooner rather than later. He has also been popular with Freeze fans, who have nicknamed him “The Yeti,” both as a play on his last name and because of his appearance (“big and hairy,” in his words).
Everest might not be so popular with the fans any more, however, after he took some potshots at Duluth (where the Freeze play) and other CHL cities in a recent interview.
A local paper decided to do a profile on Everest as part of a series of features about the team that have run thoughout the season. During the interview, Everest was asked if he is looking forward to making the SHL someday. “Of course I am!” replied the center. “That’s what every athlete dreams of: competing at the highest level.”
The interviewer then asked if there was anything in particular that Everest was looking forward to in the SHL. “Well, for one thing, I can’t wait to take road trips and visit some of the SHL cities. New York, of course. DC and Boston, Seattle, KC… there are a lot of cool cities in that league.”
The interviewer then reportedly quipped, “What, Duluth isn’t cool enough for you?”
Everest chuckled and rolled his eyes. “I mean, come on. Duluth’s not exactly the Big Apple. It’s not quite Little House on the Prairie, but it’s close. And the places we visit… I mean, what’s the biggest place we city? Salt Lake City? All those Mormons, it’s not exactly Fun City. Baltimore? Lock your doors and keep moving. Cleveland? Never seen the sun there once. Milwaukee’s okay, but it’s cold as hell. The point is, none of these are places you’d go, like, on purpose. There’s a reason why they call it the minor leagues, right?”
The profile ran on Sunday, and Everest’s unflattering remarks on Duluth and other CHL cities were front and center. Everest claimed he had been quoted out of context, a defense that did nothing to stem the fans’ displeasure.
During the Freeze’s next home game on Thursday, the fans reacted to the announcement of Everest’s name with boos. Several also brought signs with slogans such as “THIS ‘LITTLE HOUSE’ IS NOT YOUR HOME” and “EVEREST: NOT MINNESOTA NICE.”
“Getting booed by your own fans… that’s pretty painful,” Everest admitted.
Later in the week, Everest apologized to fans for his remarks. “I made some comments that I shouldn’t have, and I’m sorry about that,” he told reporters. “I was trying to joke around with the [reporter], but it came off like I hated it here and in this league, and that’s not true. I like this league, I like Duluth, and I love the fans here. I want to go to the SHL someday, but I’m glad I’m here now. The Yeti messed up, but I hope you forgive me.”
Everest also poked fun at his remarks by filming a commercial for Paul Bunyan’s Pancake House. In the commercial, Everest first goes to an unnamed restaurant, where he’s served a comically tiny plate of food. “Hey, what is this, Little House on the Prairie?” he says. “This is minor-league food!” Everest then heads to Paul Bunyan’s, where he is served their Bottomless Pancake Stack. “That’s more like it!” he says. “Even in a small town, you can get a big meal at Paul Bunyan’s. Come on down and strap on your feedbag!”
The controversy largely seemed to blow over by the end of the week. One fan, though, had a final thought: “I hope Tanner realizes that if he does make the SHL, he’s going to play in… Anchorage. That’s not exactly the Big Apple either.”