Thursday, July 05, 2012

Zach Parise, Ryan Suter Change Wild Culture Just By Signing

What an amazing Fourth of July, eh?

For the first time since its run to the Western Conference Final in 2003, the Minnesota Wild are on the map.

I columnized the bit for SBNation yesterday. Here that is.

Michael Russo of the Star Tribune was on top of this story throughout. Here is his main story for the Thursday paper.

Strib columnist Jim Souhan talked to Wild owner Craig Leipold, who is pretty happy.

Season tickets and Parise/Suter jerseys are on sale now!

Among the other reactions: Jack Jablonski is happy, and the Wild are no longer 200:1 to win the Stanley Cup.

As you can see, there is a lot of hockey being talked about for it being July 5. That alone should be considered a victory for this once-downtrodden franchise, one that couldn't buy a break for years.

Since its inception, the Wild have really only had one bona fide star, and Marian Gaborik never became the consistent superstar the team needed to build around. He was never the face of the franchise off the ice.

In one fell swoop on a national holiday, the Wild brought in two players who can be both of those things. Parise is from Minneapolis, while Suter has Midwestern roots (from Wisconsin, and his wife is from Bloomington; Suter's father, Bob, played on the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, uncle Gary was an NHL regular for years, and father-in-law Stan Palmer was a four-year defenseman for UMD). They wanted to play in Minnesota, turning down more money elsewhere so they could be teammates and play in the place of their choice.

These are two guys of high character, both on and off the ice, and the Wild will experience an immediate benefit. Once the season starts (hopefully October!), the team will see a difference on the ice.

Parise is an upgrade to the Wild's top line with Mikko Koivu, whether he has Dany Heatley or Devin Setoguchi at right wing. He also makes the Wild's power play better, with his scoring touch and willingness to go in the dirty areas.

Suter gives Minnesota a true PP1 point man. They can stick Pierre-Marc Bouchard out there as a fourth forward to work the half-wall, knowing that Suter can control things up high. It's a huge addition, possibly more significant than Parise, because Suter adds to a position that was not strong or deep, and he's a perfect fit for Mike Yeo's system.

Hopefully, July 4 isn't remembered as the day Leipold overspent for average players. Instead, we want it to be the day the Wild finally gained footing as a legitimate NHL franchise.

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