|Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Chuck Fletcher were all smiles Monday. Wonder why? (Getty Images)|
July 4, 2012 will go down as one of the greatest days in Minnesota Wild franchise history. That was the day that they officially signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year contracts, something that few if any people outside of Minnesota saw happening.
Heck, GM Chuck Fletcher wasn't even that sold it could happen. Everybody knew the Wild were going to give it their best shot, but to actually believe they could pull it off? Not even Fletcher who at one point thought the Wild were completely out of the hunt for either.
|Wild land Suter, Parise|
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Two days later the Wild were the talk of the NHL.
The free-agency process in hockey is described as a frenzy. It conjures images of GMs holding three phones at once trying to keep the lines straight like Zach Morris as Nitro on the Teen Line -- that's if you watched Saved by the Bell, of course. Really, though, it wasn't that chaotic at all.
Thanks to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who was on the Parise/Suter story like white on rice, here's a little insight into the whole process of flipping the Wild's profile upside down. It included a lot of waiting, a lot of doubt and a lot of jubilation.
Here's just a taste of the piece from Russo:
In the e-mails, the Wild officially submitted offers, including terms, salary and potential structure.
Fletcher followed with phone calls to each agent but only reached voicemails. Within an hour, he had reached both and confirmed the offers.
Then, the Wild waited.
Fast forward a bit and you had the culmination of the Wild's work.
In their offices in St. Paul, Fletcher, along with Yeo, Flahr and Wild executives Jim Mill and Shep Harder, congratulated one another.
They had both Parise and Suter under contract.
Fletcher had one call to make. He dialed Leipold on the speaker phone and told the Wild owner: "We are good to go."
Really that's just a taste of the story. It's a great read from Russo and rather fascinating, illuminating a process that usually remains behind closed doors. I highly recommend it, especially for Wild fans that haven't already seen it.
Dropped in the story, though, are some revelations. Things like the identical contracts being the idea of Parise and the fact that each player took less money to play for the Wild together. In Parise's case quite a bit less as the Flyers were well into triple digits with an offer, and Suter had a bigger offer out there too.
Some griped about the long wait for decisions from Parise and Suter. The wait surely seemed longer for Fletcher and the Wild but patience paid for them here.