Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wild, 2012-13: 'A special place for a long time'

Signings of Parise, Suter overwhelm Wild, fans as memorable day unfolds

By Wild Road Tripper

And most Minnesota Wild fans didn't believe it couldn't get done. Yes, even including this blogger.

But, they did it. The Independence Day signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the two most sought-after NHL free agents, now propels the Wild into the realm of the NHL's elite franchises. The Twitter hashtags of #Parisewatch, and #Suterwatch, will forever hold special place in the hearts of the Wild faithful, as the three-day watch held Minnesota sports fans and media in mesmerizing suspense, as word kept reaching the hockey-crazed masses that both were available, IF...the Price was Right.

At $98 million each, over 13 seasons, front-loaded to receive $24 million in the next 13 months, the fact that they took less money to sign in Minnesota than, say, Detroit or Pittsburgh, the fact that the Wild won this multi-dimensional, multi-directional battle, despite digging out from their dismal finish in 2011-12, and jettisoning enough salary in the last three seasons to make this fit under the NHL's salary cap (at least, the current version), took a masterful stroke by GM Chuck Fletcher and his staff, especially as the negotiations dragged on past the first day of free agency.

Needless to say, the buzz generated by the signings blew up the phone lines at the Wild sales offices, where eight representatives were on duty this morning in advance of the signings...just in case. By mid-day, all sales employees were asked to report, in order to answer the phalanx of calls, as hold times reached 30 minutes-plus in the early afternoon.

Even KFAN, the team's flagship radio station, had to scrap their scheduled 'best of' programming for the afternoon, for six hours of all-Wild-hockey, all-the-time talk, with numerous Wild 'personalities' sprinkled throughout the day. Into the evening, the station ran the first three hours of the afternoon's events (from 6-9 PM, Central Time).

You need to sit back now, dear Wild fan, and just dream...of a NHL Winter Classic (Minnesota in 2014? Craig Leipold says it just may, a trip back into the playoffs, for the first time in four seasons...and remember, it WAS the number 8 seed that went to the Stanley Cup finals from the Western Conference last month...and won it all...

Good things yet to come? Ya, sure, you betcha there. And I'm still on board for the ride. You?

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