I’ll start this column out by saying the Wild nabbed the two best free agents in the NHL when Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signed 13-year contracts on the Fourth of July.
It was a nice haul. It’s also being greatly exaggerated as though Minnesota just picked up the two BEST players in hockey. At least that is what you’d think if you listened to talk radio, read the newspapers and blogs, or watched the nightly news.
The fact is Parise and Suter are both great signings. It’s the best the Wild could have done. They were the two best players on the open market. But it isn’t exactly like they signed Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Hull in their primes to anchor their first line.
I’ve heard some fans say this is the “greatest day in Minnesota sports history.” Umm, no. Not even close. Probably not even in the top 20.
In reality (when you take off the “State of Hockey” rose-colored glasses) Parise was ranked the 26th best player in the NHL and Suter was the 43rd best player in the league heading into the 2011-12 season by a panel of hockey experts polled by TSN, which is essentially Canada’s version of ESPN.
Parise and Suter will sell tickets, but the hype surrounding their signings has been overboard. For example, it would be the equivalent of an NFL team signing Julius Peppers and Champ Bailey. Or an MLB team signing Ryan Zimmerman and Tim Lincecum. Or an NBA team signing Tony Parker and Paul Millsap. All good signings, but I doubt we’d see the same type of fervor the Wild’s two signings have created.
The bottom line is the signings were huge for the Wild. They will help the team win, and probably make the playoffs next season and beyond. The Wild will be relevant again in NHL circles, and that is obviously important.
But to expect Suter and Parise to immediately make the Wild the favorites to win the Stanley Cup (or even their division) is a stretch. It will be interesting to see how close actuality comes to reaching the hype of the past few days.
If the Wild eventually win a Stanley Cup, then we can start talking about it being one of the best days in Minnesota sports history (it would still fall way behind the Twins winning the World Series in 1987 and 1991 by the way). Until that happens, it’s nothing more than a great day for hockey fans. And that is important, just not as important as it has been portrayed for the past 48 hours.