Since the NHL returned to Minnesota, I admit I’ve been a fair weather fan. I was totally into the Wild’s spectacular (and very unexpected) playoff run in the Spring of 2003, which saw them make it all the way to the Western Conference finals. Outside of that season, they’ve held my interest right up until the point in time where they were ousted in the opening round of the playoffs or eliminated from postseason contention during the regular season.
With that in mind, I couldn’t help but be impressed with their willingness this offseason to land the NHL’s two marquee free agents……and then seal the deal yesterday!
Call it a Wild day for Minnesota: On Wednesday, the team landed not one but both of the NHL's top players available in free agency: forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.
Sources told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that both deals are worth $98 million over 13 years.
"WE GOT 'EM!" the Wild announced on their Twitter account early Wednesday afternoon.
Both players were regarded as the cream of what was a thin free-agent crop, and each had spent the past four days poring over numerous offers from several teams before making a decision.
Since it’s debut in the 2000-01 season, the Wild has consistently had a very strong fan base. There were very few season ticket holders who did not renew their seats from one season to the next. But over the past couple of years, even the most ardent Wild supporters became weary. With the team only making the playoffs twice (both first round ousters) in the past eight seasons, fans began to feel that the organization was taking them for granted. The thought was that people were so excited to have pro hockey back in the Twin Cities after a seven-year absence that the organization was able to coast on that enthusiasm. But with the long-term financial commitments to Parise and Suter, Owner Craig Leipold and GM Chuck Fletcher sent a very clear message that they are indeed committed to winning as opposed to merely maintaining an NHL presence in this market.
Now let’s just hope the season starts on time.