Yesterday Mr. Mike Russo took KFAN over by force, using M-1 Abrams tanks and other assorted military devices to storm the radio station and force them to talk hockey for three hours at mid-day. Yeah... OK, Russo was invited to cover the Common Man Dan Cole's spot on KFAN, and Russo was artful in his ability to fill the three hour session with nothing but hockey talk.
It was nothing short of magnificent.
If you missed it, the entirety is available over at KFAN's archive. Look under where it says "Common Man." The guests were hockey related, including Denis Potvin, Kenny Albert, Jime Mattheson, and none other than soon-to-be-again former Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster.
Foster's interview ranged in topics from free agency to NHL Network fill-ins to... wait for it... Zach Parise. As you should know, Foster played on the Devils for a bit, so he knows Parise, and might just have some insight into the man's thinking about where Parise might sign this summer.
To read what he said, and what it means... make the jump.
Once again, you really should go listen to the interview. Good stuff from beginning to end. If you're just plain lazy and want the juicy parts, here we go.
When Russo asked Foster to talk about what kind of star Parise is, Foster had this to say:
He's a guy that comes to work everyday. Coming into New Jersey, I'd heard rumors that this guy was on the ice first, off the ice last, always in the gym, and it wasn't far off. I would say he's always the first guy on the ice shooting pucks, always in the gym. He's a guy that takes care of himself off the ice. He's a guy that leads by the way he plays. That's what's most impressive about him. He's not a guy that is very vocal, but the way he works everyday in practice and the way he works in games... you just admire the way he plays, and you want to play with him.
He's a guy that, Adam Oates is the coach in NJ, and he said about him, "He's a Jacques Lemaire disciple." What's he's saying is that he always has his knees bent, he's always ready to go. You never see him take a split second off in his shift. And that's what I think makes him the player he is.
A few standard "he works hard"s, sprinkle in some "first on, last off"s, and you have yourselves a pretty generic answer. Right up until he mentions that Adam Oates calls Parise a "Jacques Lemaire disciple." Now you have my attention, Mr. Foster. Never takes a split second off, you say? Not very vocal, but the way he plays keeps you in line you say?
By the way, many people have criticized Mikko Koivu for not being vocal enough, and suggest Parise could take the captain's position from Koivu should Parise sign here. Uh... same type of guy, folks. Quiet. Lead by example. Enjoy.
Russo then asked if Foster thought it was a "guarantee" that Parise would leave New Jersey, even with a Cup, due to off-ice issues. To which Fozzie replied:
I wouldn't say it's a guarantee. One of the things I learned, going to New Jersey, is that... you always hear about the Cult of the New Jersey Devils, and you're not sure what you're going into. When I went there, Lou and the whole organization welcomes you with open arms, and once you're in that organization, you're almost family. It's something they really strive for there.
It's one of those things I really can't say. I think Zach will have a really big decision this year, because I think he's going to have a lot of opportunities in many different places and a lot of different teams and different situations cities-wise. I think he kind of looks pretty good right now. He's got everything on his side. I think if he can finish off here, and win a Cup, that's a huge thing for him, but...
It's one of those things, you want him to be happy. I know, myself, that he does enjoy it in New Jersey, but being a guy that played for the Wild, and played there for 4 ½ years, it's definitely a place I think he would enjoy.
He spends the summers there, on Lake Minnetonka, I think his wife might be from there. I can't say enough good things about Minnesota. It's just one of those things, you just don't know what he's going to do until he does it, but it will be interesting to see what his decision is this summer.
Parise enjoys New Jersey, you say? But his wife is from here, you say? And he bought a house here, you say? You can't say enough good things about Minnesota, you say?
It will, indeed, be interesting to see what Parise does this summer. Do all of the signs point to him inking a deal at the one minute mark of free agency with the Wild? I still have some pretty strong doubts, to be honest. Still, it is good to know that Foster wouldn't tell him not to sign here. Some WIld fans have a complex that free agents are bad mouthing Minnesota, and that's why no one will sign here.
As if the eleven years of mediocrity have nothing to do with it.
Next, Russo pointed out that many Wild fans... OK, almost all Wild fans will likely need to be talked off the ledge should Parise not sign here. (My words, not Russo's.) Russo asked where Foster thought the Wild might go next.
I think it's one of those things, Mike, I think that if he ends up not coming, it's not the end of the world. They have a lot of young talent. Chuck seems like the type that, you know, he's learned in the past couple years that if he doesn't get Zach, he doesn't have to run out an overpay somebody.
He's done a good job of drafting. He's got the young Coyle kid in the Burns trade. I mean, look what he got in the trade with me. He got [out of] Zidlicky, who's done well in New Jersey, but he got a young kid in Nick Palmeiri, and another draft pick out of it with them going to the [conference finals]. So, I think Chuck knows what he's doing. I think Craig will do his wooing, and try to get him and Ryan Suter there. I hope for the sake of Minnesota hockey, that maybe they do decide to go. But, it's one of those things you really can't control, until I get the message on Russo's Rants that he's signed with the Wild.
Young talent, you say? Good drafting you say? Coyle kid, you say?
All of this is well and good, Mr. Foster, but WHY WOULD ZACH NOT SIGN HERE? Were you lying in the previous quote? Not the end of the world? You called Zach and told him not to come here didn't you? DIDN'T YOU?!?!? Wait... did you say "they decide to go?" They? Both of them?
Annnnnd... we're back. Foster is right. Chuck Fletcher has done a superb job in drafting and bringing in young talent. I'm not fully convinced on the help Nick Palmieri will provide, but who knows. At least Foster and I agree that we feel Fletcher knows what he is doing. Even if none of the pieces in the Marek Zidlicky trade turn out to be a dang thing, off loading a locker room cancer, under the gun, for that much return was genius.
What it Means
Doth thine tin foil hats, Wilderness.
Clearly, what all this means is that Kurtis Foster has been in contact with Zach Parise, and has been issuing subliminal messaging to him to sign in Minnesota. All fo this, due to Chuck Fletcher telling Foster that if Foster can facilitate the signing of Parise in Minnesota, Fletcher will also re-sign Foster. Genius, my friends. Genius. It's the ultimate in performance bonuses.
Notice that Foster didn't mention Parise signing in Detroit or New York? Or Nashville.
Honestly, the real value of the interview is the positive things Foster had to say about Parise. As we near the end of the Cup chase, and inch closer to free agency, we are going to hear all kinds of fun things. Parise is a God among men. Parise is a joke that stats say is washed up. Parise is past his prime at 28. Parise healed a sick man, just by touching the man's head.
Somewhere in between, as always, will be the truth. Though, the Lemaire disciple line was impressive, and the knowledge that Parise is a fitness freak bodes well for fans tired of watching players get hurt. If you are going to take anything away from all of this, let it be that Parise is in great shape, works his tail off, and even those who know him personally don't have a freaking clue where he is going.
Though, I can all but guarantee it won't be Nashville. Come on, Tom.