Late last night, I came home, settled in with a lovely Grainbelt Premium, and caught up on the various missed social media interactions of the day. I have several searches and lists set up to keep tabs on the things you all seem to find important, so as to keep up on the level of stupidity rising throughout the hockey world as we approach free agency.
In three separate searches, one common, reoccurring comment was something about a rumor surrounding Zach Parise and Ryan Suter being a "package deal," and whichever team lands one gets the other in some sort of throw in deal. As we have mentioned several times in the past, this is not a time to buy into every column or story written anywhere on the web.
Where did the rumor start? Is there truth to it? You know what to do.
A simple search of the net seems to lead to the rumor starting with a column in the Detroit News, by a writer named Gregg Krupp. I've never heard of Mr. Krupp, nor his paper, but the news on their site seems to be legit, so we'll assume, for now, that the story is not complete fantasy. However, as you will see, there also isn't much to substantiate it.
The story uses an ancient event from 11 years ago to build the case that Parise and Suter and meant to be together, a time when both players were on the US National team in the U-18 World Championships. This argument carries about as much weight as Pierre McGuire saying the Wild traded for Tom Gilbert because he and Suter went to the University of Wisconsin together. There is a way to tie almost any two NHLers together. It's not like the hockey world is a tight knit community or anything. Oh. Wait.
Six degrees of separation in the NHL usually is more like two or three degrees.
Here is where things start to slip:
That may be about to change, with the two possibly joining the Red Wings.
Officials from several teams and some agents say that more than a decade after they first worked out together at the National Training and Development Program in Ann Arbor as high school kids, Parise and Suter appear determined to wear the same NHL sweaters.
Determined. Officials from several teams. Agents. It all sounds so real and concrete, doesn't it? The trip up is twofold. One, this is a Detroit columnist (not a beat writer) writing in a Detroit paper, and trying to sell that both players will end up in Detroit. Second, the word "appears." We'll get to that in a moment.
Few, least of all Parise and Suter, want to discuss the situation publicly, but a common assumption is that like Chris Bosh and LeBron James deciding to play with Dwyane Wade for the Heat two summers ago, Parise and Suter are intent on signing together with a new team.
Never compare hockey to basketball. Ever. I think I'm going to hurl. The point to take from this is not the wretch inducing comparison to basketball, but the words "a common assumption." Common to who?
Many believe that team is the Red Wings, which likely can afford both and has what both 27-year-olds seek: a particular style of play and a reasonable opportunity annually to win the Stanley Cup.
"Many believe that team is the Red Wings..." Many believe. Who is this "many?" More anonymity.
"Lots of us were at an event last year, and they were taking quite a bit of ribbing about it," said one hockey official, who asked not to be named for fear of offending the players.
"I recall specifically someone walking up to them in the parking lot and saying, 'Hey, I hear you guys are both with the Red Wings next year!'
"They were pretty sheepish about it. You know, smiling, but not saying much at all."
Dear lord, are we 13 again ? "Someone in the parking lot?" That's a source now? Someone in the parking lot? "One hockey official?" Who? And we're using anonymous information from a third anonymous source? Good crap people. Was it a fan that said it to them? Another "NHL official?"
Amid an increasing sense the Red Wings are among the few teams that have what both players seek, another enticing prospect emerges: Parise and Suter may want the Red Wings as much as the Red Wings want Parise and Suter.
"I am assuming that, at least as of right now, they are a package deal," said one NHL team official, who is aware of the circumstances.
"They certainly seem to have set it up that way, themselves."
"One NHL official, who is aware of the circumstances?" Is this the same NHL official as above? A new NHL official? What defines an NHL official? And aren't all NHL officials aware of the circumstances? If there is an NHL official unaware of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter being the top free agents available, I would think the onwer of that team has some house cleaning to do.
I know enough about journalism to know that anonymous quotes are meant to establish fact. Fact. Not "appears" and "seems." Fact. Not "assuming" and "I hear that."
I put this column up on Twitter last night, and the one voice people seem to listen to (not me) added a priceless piece of information that should add yet another question to this desire to become a tag-team:
Indeed, sir. Indeed. But that would require logic and reason to have been employed before the column was written, and some skepticism to be employed before the hockey world latched on to the rumor and ran with it as fact. It would only make sense for two players wanting to go to the same team to have one agent negotiating the deals.
You see, Russo has actual information. It isn't tough to distinguish between the people who know what they are talking about and those blowing smoke up your nether regions.
I know this is exciting, folks. The Wild could be in on both players, assuming they do not re-sign with their current teams before July 1st or have their rights traded and sign with a new team before anyone else gets a shot at them. It is OK to be excited, it's even OK to speculate on where the two might go. Hell, it's even fun to discuss (or completely fabricate) what a horse withdrawing from a race has to do with the situation.
These are big name players with big league talent, and the Wild are actually mentioned as a good home for one or both. It's exciting for a fan. It's OK.
What isn't OK is the failure to question the sources of rumors. It took me one Google search to find the source of this "information." All of ten seconds and another two minutes to read the column. I know everyone wants to bring up Praise and Suter, and ties they have back to their favorite team, and how it might lead to those two players skating in the home town sweater next season. It is normal, and natural.
Please, however, take a moment to look at the source of any rumors. A guy writing that his hometown team has the best shot to land not one, but both of the top free agents this off season, two players that alone could increase a team's chance to contend... that must be questioned. When that contention is then backed up with so many anonymous quotes a reader can't even keep up with which anonymous source is the anonymous source any more? That rumor just becomes a joke.
It's that time of year, everyone. Be skeptical, unless you have a direct quote, from a source that would know, and it establishes actual fact. Do not buy into rumors and innuendo.
It's that time of year.