Article by Izzy Presley, AM660
July 17, 2012
Article photos courtesy of the Minnesota Wild
St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Wild’s four year playoff drought has had a crippling effect on not only the fans, but the organization. While having good goaltending and some good role players, the lack of a real star player has also effected the play of the team and the confidence of the fans. All of that changed on July 4th, 2012.
After coming off of a disheartening finish to a season where the team was number one in the league and still missed the playoffs, again, team owner Craig Leipold put his money where his mouth is and invested in the long term future of the Minnesota Wild.
In a master plan that had been in place for well over a year, the Minnesota Wild landed the top two free agents in the 2012 class; forward and Minnesota native Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. Both players signed matching 13 year, 98 million dollar deals.
“This was the best case scenario” said Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher. “Sitting there a couple months ago coming off a really tough finish to what was a promising start. The way we finished was so disappointing and trying to figure out ways where we wouldn’t be in that position again.”
The move had been choreographed over the past couple seasons, hoping that Parise and Suter would both hit the free agent market instead of resigning with their original teams, the New Jersey Devils (Parise), and the Nashville Predators (Suter).
“This is what we had hoped, and had some pain along the way to create some cap space to be in this position, but we took our shot and we went for both of them, and we are just very fortunate that they both chose to come here”, Fletcher continued.
This explains why the Wild didn’t make any big free agent splashes or trades because they were creating the cap room for both players. This was a big gamble by the organization and it paid off.
The initial reaction by fans and media alike was what the talents of the two all stars would do for the players currently on the roster, but what will the talent on the roster, like team captain Mikko Koivu do for the games of Parise and Suter?
Zach addressed that while hinting to coach Mike Yeo that he would like to be line mates with the captain.
“You play with a center like Mikko, who is arguably one of the best centers in the game, I think, just from playing against him a few times at World Championships” said Parise. “I always thought that he and I would play well together, and will hopefully get the opportunity to because I think we play a pretty similar, north/south, hard game.”
Head coach Mike Yeo said, “I think that anyone who watches our sport knows what these guys can do and the impact that they can have on your team, but I also like to look at it deeper and think what these guys are going to do for the guys that they are playing with, what it does for other guys who can maybe be suited in other roles, or slotted in a different position in the lineup.”
Now that the Wild have solid pieces in place to go along with a team that has shown it does have potential, many fans jumped the gun and said “just put their names on the cup”. Not so fast.
Coach Yeo talked about what to expect from the team.
“What this does to the belief we have in our self as a team, how we view our self, and what that will do to our motivation level going into next season”, he said, “but it is way to early to start thinking about us being a contender for the cup. We believe that we are winners around here and we do things that winners do day in and day out and we play the game a certain way and it’s real tough to play against, and now you add these guys in and that’s just going to increase that by a great deal.
It’s tough to make the playoffs, so our goal right now, we like to look at things in the short term and make sure we have a great training camp and from that make sure we have a great start to the season.”
One step at a time hockey fans, one step at a time. Thankfully, for the sake of the fans, they are going to be fun steps to take.