So, how was your Independence Day?
Mine was ok. Hung around at home with the family, avoided the stifling heat oh, and covered the seminal moment in Wild franchise history!
Yep, still checking to make sure this actually happened. Like many of you, I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that Craig Leipold, Chuck Fletcher and crew were able to work with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to sign the two biggest free agents of the year and change the franchise in two pen-strokes.
Let's recap by taking a walk around the Wilderness, shall we?
Do Zach Parise, Ryan Suter Make Minnesota Wild Contenders? - SBNation.com
What happens when you take the top NHL team as of December 2011 and add the top free agent forward and defenseman as of July 2012? A team that should at least contend for second place in the Northwest Division, that's what.
Goodbye Zach Parise; Former Devil Captain Goes Wild for 13 Years, $98 Million - In Lou We Trust
Parise will be dearly missed in New Jersey. He was drafted in the first round by the Devils in 2003 and since breaking into the league, he's played the kind of hockey that fans fall in love with. Parise would skate in seemingly constant motion. Despite his stature, he was fierce around the net and below the dots, where he scored most of his goals. Parise would just generate shot after shot, pile up goals and assists, and could play well in his own end too. A few years ago, he was simply a dominant player - one of the best in the world. Parise was a great player.
[A]ll the best to Ryan Suter going forward. He's earned his way into this position of being able to make the right choice for himself and his family, and I, for one, don't blame him one bit.
Like I said, this franchise is still a long way from winning a Stanley Cup, but it took a significant step Wednesday. Parise and Suter would have been a huge get for anyone, but their impact in Minnesota is about more than just what they'll do on the ice.
"Our offer was competitive, and we did not at any time have a phone call that we had to change it or it had to go up," said Lamoriello, who said there was never a request for a counteroffer from Parise. "There was never a talk about money after our initial meeting in Toronto. The response was that the money that we offered wouldn't be the issue.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s decision to sign as free agents with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday sort of feels like hockey’s version of the Miami Heat, minus the sour taste in our mouths. Well, that is, unless you happen to live in Nashville or New Jersey. Even then, you can sort of get behind this.
Twice in a month, the Devils are runners-up among 30 teams. Nice try again, but second is still nowhere, and losing captain Zach Parise wounds their future more deeply than losing the Stanley Cup Finals.
You heard him, just 21 days ago: "I’ve said all along, I love playing here and I’ve always appreciated everything that this organization has done for me," he crooned. "My feelings have never changed." Until, you know, someone opened Parise’s mind to the reality that there are a dozen better rinks to skate in, with St. Paul pretty much on anybody’s top six list.
The Fourth of July is more like Christmas in Minnesota this year. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the top two players on this year’s NHL free agent market, are headed to the Wild.
In the eyes of some, the only thing separating Parise and Suter from LeBron and Bosh are Jim Gray producing an ESPN special that turns their signings into a deplorable spectacle.
Never mind Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya joining forces to sign in Colorado back in 2003 to try to win a Cup before the lockout, the joint signing by Parise and Suter to identical 13-year deals that will pay them $98 million marks a seminal moment in the history of free agency for the league.
The contracts make them the seventh and eighth highest paid players on an annual value in the league next season, with cap hits of $7.54-million until 2024-25 when they’ll both be 40 years old.
There were reports this week that Parise and Suter had talked to each other about possibly playing together, and the Wild became the beneficiaries as one of the few franchises that could afford both of them.
Expect the additions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to have a greater impact on the present fortunes of the Wild -- and putting these two stars with a strong, young foundation already in place could make Minnesota contenders for years to come.
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.
The Minnesota Wild have been the most boring team in hockey for years now. Their hideous uniforms, their grinding style, their unrelenting caution, their lack of punch, all of it has added up to my least preferred six days on the Edmonton Oilers television schedule each winter. Even when the Wild acquired Dany Heatley, a player that Oilers fans love to hate, it made little difference. Same old dull, dull, dull.
Leipold also had thrown the equivalent of a high-tight fastball at the heads of the Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves. The Wild suddenly had gone from a team that hadn't made the playoffs in four seasons to a franchise that will be expected to contend for the Stanley Cup in 2012-13.
"You always say to each other, 'Wouldn't it be great to have the chance to play with each other and to play on the same team?' Was it realistic all the time? I don't know," Parise said. "I know how great of a player Ryan is. I've played with him on several teams, different tournaments. To have an opportunity to play with a guy of that caliber is a great opportunity.
"Can I come back and play in Minnesota too?" --Mike Modano, former Red Wing and Minnesota North Star (before the team moved to Dallas), on Twitter.
It was 10:30 p.m. in Turku, Finland, and Mikko Koivu picked up the phone with a fervent, "What's up, buddy?" The Wild center was saying things like, "It's huge," and "I'm super, super excited," and he sounded like a man ready to strap on the skates that very moment.
In 12 years of existence, the Wild showed themselves to have an avid fan base, but they had limited playoff experience and virtually no national profile. The Wild haven't been a sexy team, but that might have changed Wednesday when they managed to land the two most coveted free agents, primarily because both wanted to play together and had ties to the state.
On the Fourth of July, a day known for historic decisions, the Wild declared their independence from mediocrity. They persuaded the NHL's premier free agents, forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, to put their John Hancocks on Wild contracts and make it a day like no other in Minnesota history.
Zach Parise called himself "a loyal person" and said the only reason he is leaving the Devils is to play in his home state of Minnesota and with longtime pal Ryan Suter.
"I don't think he needs the $5, but I definitely sent him a video," Gardenhire said. "I offered him about 18,000 rounds of batting practice. So I'll take credit for him."
The phones were ringing off the hook at Wild headquarters by Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, at the Hockey Lodge team store, workers were busy pressing fresh No. 11 and No. 20 jerseys, which will be ready for sale Thursday morning.
Even those Minnesotans who can take hockey or leave it were blown away by the idea that two athletes with options to play in New York or Chicago, or to play with established stars in Pittsburgh or Detroit, decided they wanted to be here.
So here's the question: Given that this is hockey, and given the big news of the day, who gets the top assists when it comes to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signing on with the Wild?
Having spent almost $200 million in about an hour, making him the Minnesota version of Pacman Jones, Wild owner Craig Leipold realized he would have to take on one more expense. ''I'm probably going to have to put a two-way mirror around my suite,'' he said. ''So people can't look in and watch me going crazy.''
In one of the most monumental days in Minnesota hockey history -- and indisputably Wild history -- the hometown team shook the foundation of the National Hockey League on Wednesday by landing its hottest two free agents: Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Zach Parise wanted to resume his NHL career at home. Ryan Suter made a decision that he deemed was best for his family. The most celebrated unrestricted free agents in the 2012 NHL class shocked the hockey world on Wednesday by together choosing the Minnesota Wild with identical 13-year, $98-million contracts.
"Of course we're happy, but it's not about me or his mother," he said. "It's about him getting himself set for life and settling down in Minnesota. He's the one who made the decision. He's really excited about the decision and, for me, that's what it's about. To watch my son be happy. That's a fatherly feeling."
Now that all the news is out there and I’ve had a chance to come up for air, I wanted to put together a timeline of how Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s twin 13-year, $98 million deals came together.
Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports that Minnesota Twins star catcher Joe Mauer and manager Ron Gardenhire participated in the recruitment video sent to Parise. However, this wasn’t a simple courtesy cameo.
If you see other links, please share them. I need to get to work. Have a great day and Go Wild!