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Wild owner: Signing Parise, Suter changed team’s identity

Jul 6, 2012, 10:07 AM EDT

Minnesota Wild v Nashville Predators Getty Images

Wild owner Craig Leipold became the man of the summer when he landed top-tier free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on Wednesday. He penned a letter to Wild fans where he called the signings a “huge step forward.”

On Thursday, Leipold seemed just as enthusiastic.

“This is a game changer,” Leipold said, according to the Washington Times. “We’re overnight changing who we are. We’re changing our identity. We’ll never get that opportunity again.”

That’s certainly a fair statement. The team sold 700 season tickets on Wednesday. Wild fans clearly seem to share Leipold’s upbeat attitude and outside of Minnesota, fans of opposing teams are looking at the Wild in a new light.

It also reinforces that in the salary cap era, sometimes the often overlooked teams can compete with franchises that have a better reputation for success.

“We didn’t think we were going to get either one,” Leipold admitted. “We heard Detroit was hot on Suter. All we know is what we’re reading. We were hearing we were up against Pittsburgh, Chicago, teams that have won in the last three or four years. These aren’t just your normal run-of-the-mill teams. They’re winning right now.”

In Minnesota, Parise and Suter were not only able to play close to home, but on a team that already had strong goaltending and a nice list of up-and-coming prospects. The Wild haven’t won a playoff series since 2003, but with this boost, they’re relevant again.

  1. lordfletcher - Jul 6, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    100% agreed.

    This was the second best day in Wild history. Never has a whole state of people gone apples over free agents, this has changed our team for the next 10 years, some would say 13 ;)

    Couldn’t be happier

    • polegojim - Jul 6, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      Congrats Lord…. very good job and I’m slightly… ok more…. Jealous

      Other view – if they don’t win a Stanley Cup… VERY soon…. that identity will change again, and it won’t be good.

      Getting the goods is HIGHLY commendable, but…. now DELIVER!

      • lordfletcher - Jul 7, 2012 at 2:42 AM

        thank you!

        I know we had a few ‘talks’ about how this would end, it looks like I / we here in MN hit the lottery.

        I am not worried about winning cups just due to these signings, if they happen, they happen… I will cry like a 4 y.o. girl but hey, I can only dream of that day. These deals can’t be simply justified 10 years from now if they win a cup or not. It’s every teams goal and each season there are 10 quality contenders.

        remember most Minnesotans are use to our teams failing. Vikings / Timberwolves etc. We rarely, EVER win. LOL

      • polegojim - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:43 AM

        Bro, your odds must increased x 1000 on the ice!

  2. billobrienschindimple - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    As much as I wanted ZP in the’burgh, I am pleased for Mike Yeo. Now he has pieces to have success going forward.

  3. williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    “…fans of opposing teams are looking at the Wild in a new light.”

    I’d say looking at the Wild period!

    This upcoming season, it will be a decade since the team snuck into the Western Conference Finals and the fourth season since Marian Gaborik left via free agency . Something obviously had to be done. Who knew it would be something that would make the entire NHL stand up and take notice? I was a bit taken aback by the bitter, angry and resentful comments pouring in across this and every other hockey board/site. Then it hit me-that’s what it’s like to be relevant.

    For the overwhelming majority of the team’s existence nobody in this league saw the Wild as a threat, an equal, an obstacle to overcome or a team they needed to out negotiate. For the first time in years there is interest,hope and enthusiasm surrounding the team…and haters. I can’t wait for October.

  4. vshehane - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Yep it does change your identity. You now have one of the most underhanded, dishonest people to play the game of hockey in the signing of Ryan Suter. Good luck with that..

    • williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      When a top drawer player leaves like this I understand the desire to hate on the player and his new team, but at some point you-and all bitter Preds fans-are going to have to ask some serious questions about your team.

      Why did they risk letting Suter leave without getting anything in return? Why was there no plan B if Suter decided to leave? Why did they risk alienating Weber by letting Suter walk away? Why did they trade a first round pick for a fourth line center and then re-sign him to a 4 year/$13 mil contract? Why was Radulov brought back and allowed to be a distraction to the team during their playoff run? Why did they let a heart and soul guy like Tootoo go to their biggest rival? Is Rinne going to be worth $7mil a year without Weber and Suter in front of him? How did David Poile let a well built team that had three years of success blow up in a matter of months?

      If you think it was all Suter’s fault you are not willing to ask the tough questions.

      • paperkid96 - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        Poile is a little naive.

        He is playing the victim but I’m sorry if your player is testing the UFA market he had to know his chances were slim.

        He probably let’s his wife have sleep overs at a Chippendales dancer’s house because they are “just friends”.

      • lordfletcher - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        Poile’s comment was… Suter’s agent back in November said he wanted to remain a Predator…

        He is B$%ching about something he claims Suter’s agent said 8 months ago. WOW.

        Think about that before you run your mouth off and call Suter the most dishonest person in the league.

        JESUS!

        I feel bad for Pred fans but let’s be real here… there was a 75% chance he was leaving after Poile didn’t re-sign him last summer and now everyone is pissed. come on guys.

        I am sure Suter is a great man, just didn’t go your way.

        again sorry

    • mnhockey24 - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:43 PM

      awwww did he break your heart poor you

  5. freneticgarfieldfan - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    “with this boost, they’re relevant again” – not wanting to spoil the party, but: didn’t they say that about Buffalo last year?
    First step first, hockey is played on the ice, not in the office.

  6. florida76 - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Winning is the only thing which can change the identity of a franchise, and Minnesota hasn’t done jack, dating back to 1967. Laughable to compare Minnesota with franchises like Pittsburgh and Chicago, which have won multiple Cups and had superstar players. The paltry total of two conference titles and one HOF player(who spent the majority of his career in Minnesota), is embarrassing.

    • vshehane - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      Suter won’t bring a cup to the Wild. I can’t wait to see how long it takes before he starts his infamous whining about this or that.

      • williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:54 PM

        Why should I trust your ability to see into hockey’s future and see no Cups for the Wild? You seem to have thought Suter wouldn’t be leaving Nashville and you missed on that one.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:07 PM

      Hey look kids, Trolls! Two of them!

      Thanks for the laughs girls :D

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:11 PM

      In all seriousness, you’re absolutely right. When it really comes down to it, Minnesota sports as a whole hasn’t really done much since the last time the Twins won the World Series. Oh sure, they’ve had their close calls and great seasons (’98 Vikes, ’10 Vikes, a bunch of good seasons with the Twins, 07-08 Wild #1 in NW…) but we’ve never had a culture of winning. The combination of Minnesota pessimism (one of the more pervasive Scandinavian legacies here) and poorly run franchises has caused many disillusioned fans to accept mediocrity and make excuses for the few successes that our sports teams have had.

      For Leipold and Fletcher to sign Parise and Suter to 13 year, big money contracts is a sign that this team wants to win long term and they have a plan in place. Fletcher already started this process when he was hired by drafting well and making smart trades. This is what made teams like Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philly, and Boston so successful. This isn’t a flash in the pan, one year, Brett Favre kind of situation, nor is it a Joe Mauer “sign a hometown boy for big money but not spend money anywhere else” deal. Leipold is committed to winning, no matter what anyone says, and so are Parise and Suter. This is how the identity of the team is changing.

      • lordfletcher - Jul 7, 2012 at 2:45 AM

        very well said.

  7. davebabychreturns - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    “Our identity has completely changed. Before we were a team that could not land top free agents because we were irrelevant; now we are a team that can not land top free agents because we have no cap space!”

    • williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      Capgeek, or any comparable site, will tell you just how much cap space opens up in Minnesota next year and being any kind of sports fan during the last decade should tell you that teams do occasionally dump players to make cap space.

      Yikes, that was a failure as a joke and as a riff on current events.

  8. wpgjetter - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    I am getting very tired of this rhetoric. Yes the signings of Suter and Parise were a huge plus for the Wild…yes the Wild are significantly better with these two in the fold but the last time I looked, 2 players dont make a team. The Wild have decent forwards and goaltending however the defensive core remains sub-par at best. Time will tell whether or not the team as a whole can elevate themselves to contenders rather than pretenders.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      that sub-par defense did just fine last year. Now add Suter and a year of on the job training to 22-24 year old kids. They will be better… but yes, they do need to improve.

      Scandella / Spurgeon / Falk / Stoner … all are getting better with time.

      Thanks

      • wpgjetter - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:51 PM

        how can you say that they did “just fine last year”? The wild finished the season out of the playoffs and below the 500 mark. Now thats not exclusively on the shoulders of the defense but a good number of losses were due to defensive collapses after having mid to late game leads. I really do hope that they have learned from the experience and have become a deeper team. This is one fan who is very much looking forward to the realignment so that the Jets and Wild can become the natural rivals that they should be.

      • lordfletcher - Jul 7, 2012 at 2:52 AM

        just fine… may sound a bit over rated when looking their stats but we weren’t expecting much from them at the start of the year. Truth be told, they were not the sole reason for the Wild missing the playoffs, injuries were and the lack of goals.

        Our biggest issue on D is the lack of puck moving D-men. We struggle in getting the puck to our forwards with tape to tape passes and starting the rush. Suter will help a lot and Brodin once he makes the roster. Those kids will improve and only 2 have a future with this team (scandella / stoner / spurgeon / falk) once Brodin and Dumba join, along with the high chance of Fletcher adding D help come the trade deadline.

        Guessing
        Brodin: plays a bit in MN this year but most will be in Houston
        Dumba: solid chance of making the Wild in 2013-14

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 6, 2012 at 2:22 PM

      The thing is, Wild fans had already been getting excited for next season even before Parise and Suter signed up. Granlund is moving up next year and, like I and other Wild fans here have stated ad nauseam, there’s a glut of other stellar prospects moving up through the ranks.

      We all know Suter and Parise wanted to be close to home, but that in and of itself is hardly a selling point if it’s all the Wild offered (along with a bit of money). For the Wild, signing Parise and Suter hopefully reduced the amount of time it will take for the team to become legitimate contenders. This is where the real success lies.

      Who cares if they don’t win the Cup or even get past the 1st round this season? Suterise (it’s about time they had a celeb name already, no?) are not a team in and of themselves, but I’ll bet they just made it a little tougher for every other team they have to play against.

  9. murraychadwick - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    This may have changed the team’s identity in the eyes of Wild fans, but the rest of the league’s fans still see them as jus the Wild. I really don’t think adding these two turns MN into a cup contender at all. Put two good players on a non playoff team and then they may be in the hunt for playoffs next year. Put two good players on an already good playoff team and then you are Expected to win the Cup. They may have the roots to be good in a few years, but not as of yet. So no, I don’t think the signings has changed the Wild’s identity outside of MN. Simple test, as a hockey fan when you hear the words Minnesota Wild what is your thought………exactly.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      No one is saying they will be winning the cup this year, but you. These deals do change the landscape of the Wild, weather you see that or not. It translates to more than just Stanley Cups year 1. The Wild will now be able to go after other free agents and they will want to play here in the future… We have a solid team now, and could make trade deadline deals, move prospects for top 6 /4 players… this impacts more than what you see on paper as of today.

      so maybe it’s time to get off the computer and let the big kids talk.

      thanks kiddo

      • murraychadwick - Jul 6, 2012 at 2:14 PM

        Did you not read the line i wrote that said “they may have the roots to be good in a few years, but not as of yet”? All I said was that this only changed the identity in the eyes of Wild fans, not the identity of the perception of the Wild nationaly.

        Oh, and what is your cap hit right now? You better hope that some of your young kids turn into studs before they hit free agency, because there won’t be anymore big names heading there without filling the gaps with low cost plugs. Typically that isn’t the recipe for cups. Ehhh, Big Boy. Now go put on your double runners and hit up the afternoon open skate.

      • lordfletcher - Jul 7, 2012 at 2:53 AM

        just noticed this LOL

        whether not weather, oops

      • lordfletcher - Jul 7, 2012 at 3:04 AM

        @Murray

        JESUS!

        Do not talk to me about cap hits. Go to CapGeek and look at the Wilds roster, then notice how we are shredding several $$$$$ millions off the books after 2012-13 and 2013-2014.

        We have more than enough cap room to do whatever we want, such as trade for X player or sign Y player next summer and in the next 10 years.

        Weber sure would look good in MN green and we could easily offer him 13 years 98 million :)

        Yes, the Wild have a huge prospect pool, very close to what Chicago had 6 years ago. Will some players end up being impact skaters and garner huge paydays after their entry deals expire? Sure…. but most won’t and or will never make the team for a long duration and or a few will easily be traded.

        I expect Granlund / Coyle / Brodin / Dumba / Hackett to be role players for the next 7 years but history shows us that I will be wrong and 1-4 of these guys will fail. Then if you add the other 10 prospects, some will surpass expectations and others will fade away. No matter what, we will have enough room to sign the guys we want, and can trade others for future considerations / draft picks and keep a long term wealth of prospects as long as Fletcher is driving the ship.

        I also liked your “cheap shot” . “Ehhh, Big Boy. Now go put on your double runners and hit up the afternoon open skate.”

        LOL!!! Thank you for the chuckle but I feel most are laughing at you, not with.

        Toodles ….

    • williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      “Simple test, as a hockey fan when you hear the words Minnesota Wild what is your thought………”

      That team that convinced the top two free agents to sign there together instead of somewhere else or here, I guess. Unless those other team’s fans had no access to the internet, television, newspapers or cell phones.

      Come on, that’s weak.

  10. prov1x - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Hurts as a Preds fan that the owner who gutted the franchise and bolted has now probably started the ball rolling on gutting #2. And he did it by doing exactly what he wouldn’t do in Nashville-spending the big money to get big talent. Willi-you raise some valid points but the fact does remain that Suter was less than honest, is a tremedous whiner and will start whining in Minnesota before Jan. 1. It will be interesting to see how good he is w/o Shea and vice-versa.

    • williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      There are a number of articles floating around that are critical of Poile’s pouty behavior after Suter left and what appears to be his decision to make public parts of the negotiations which were considered private, in an attempt to make himself look better after the fact. If that’s true, Poile is going to lose some serious face with players around the league, possibly some in his own locker room (the team’s current captain, for example).

      Add that to the way he’s handled that team over the last year and change-including a flap over RFA contracts last off season, which I left out of my previous list-and things look a lot less rosy in the Music City today than they did just a few short months ago. Those who choose to blame Suter-or the Wild and their owner, for that matter-are making themselves feel good by venting at an outside target.

      At some point, the bitterness will find it’s focus on Poile.

  11. prov1x - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    And losing Tootoo, while he was a fan favorite, is no big deal at all. He was good for creating energy…..and then taking stupid penalties, negating anything good he may have done. He was an offensive liability the last part of the year and then cried to the media when he didn’t play in the playoffs. He wrote his own ticket out and the Wings way overpaid for him.

    • williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      Part of the bigger picture, though, no? You can talk him down today, but this one can blow up in the Pred’s face in about eight different ways.

  12. prov1x - Jul 6, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Willi-again, interesting point. Yes it could, but so could spending $200 mil on two players, no? Do you really think Toots can fit in there? I thought it was a very curious move by Detroit. They move the puck so well in both zones and Jordin doesn’t even know there is a puck out there half the time. Not a game changer for either team but it will be nice not to hear those stupid whistles at the games.
    You made it a point to pin the Radulov debacle on Poile. While I do agree that Poile has made a few dubious moves, this move was pushed hard by the players leadership, which included Suter. David stressed at the time that they never would have made the move without that push.
    Just curious….you seem to have an axe to grind with our GM…any particular reason?

    • williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      I have no axe to grind with Poile, but if I were a Nashville Predator’s fan I would be considering it in the very near future.

      The last word on the Radulov deal is obviously going to rest upon the GM’s shoulders; doesn’t matter if Weber and Suter each whispered it into his ears at the same time. Seems like Poile is good at blaming his mis-steps on others, though. If Tootoo does anything in Detroit your team and their fans will never hear the end of it because you let him go to a team in your OWN division. Seriously, defend letting a fan favorite walk to your biggest rival after his best season all you like; just telling you it looks like a dubious move right now. Suter left for no compensation, Weber seems to be heartbroken by the fact that he left…I’m repeating myself now.

      Just a little sick of Pred fans blaming their woes on others.

  13. williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Those who are attempting to rain on Wild fan’s happiness need to actually see what Wild fans have been saying here and on another hockey boards. I have not seen a single Wild fan here say-non sarcastically, thanks trolls-that the Wild are guaranteed a Cup next year or any other, for that matter.

    Are we giddy at the prospect of new found relevance and hopeful of making the playoffs next year after missing them the previous four?

    Yes.

    Are we optimistic that these signings-when added to a highly respected group of prospects, a couple of other FA signing that added depth and the returning core of a team that was quite good before injuries decimated them and sent them into a downward spiral-will make them a better?

    Hell yeah.

    Are we excited that these signings will make Minnesota a legit destination after a couple of big contracts come off the books over the next few seasons?

    Yep.

    This stuff eventually gets figured out on the ice. For the first time in years I’m truly excited about the Wild’s prospects and I can’t wait for October.

  14. snipedanglecelly13 - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Lol Minnesota fans are too overconfident right now

    • williplett - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      Hopeful, not overconfident.

      Big difference.

  15. snipedanglecelly13 - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Lol I been hearing fans say championship! Dont tell me that’s not being overconfident

    • lordfletcher - Jul 7, 2012 at 3:06 AM

      You might have heard a 1% sample of MN fans.

      I also like eating turds, so now you can go tell everyone you know Minnesotans love eating crap for dinner.

  16. n001363 - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Listen up folks, if your hockey team was filled with home town talent, there wouldn’t be a hockey team. For a state that’s raised so much hockey talent, it’s only fitting a few come home and play. If they had from the beginning, we’d have a wall of trophies. You…. wouldn’t have s*#t!

  17. thedavesiknowiknow - Jul 7, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    Another way to change the teams identity: Throwing those jerseys in a landfill and never speaking of them again.

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