Sid Hartman: Wilf says Vikings still looking for players

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 9, 2008 - 1:00 AM

The team owner says that although he has shelled out big bucks for three players, he is not opposed to adding another if the fit is right.

Zygi Wilf says he is not through signing free agents if the right player is available and is one who could help make his Vikings a winner.

"If they fit into what we want to do to become a winner we will certainly look to do what's best to improve our ballclub," Wilf said. ''Absolutely, we're not through. We're always looking.''

The Wilfs already have spent $81 million -- $30 million of it guaranteed -- to sign receiver Bernard Berrian, safety Madieu Williams and fullback Thomas Tapeh.

"I think the players who are around the league understand that we're a team that's built to do our best to win championships," Wilf said. "So I think there's a lot of excitement, especially by the players who have come over here, to be part of this organization. When they see things in your organization that make them want to come here, you're very excited."

The Wilfs have proved they are trying to develop a winner.

"Like I said, actions speak louder than words, and they see that, and we're happy to have the type of players on our team that will make us winners," he said. "Those are the types of guys that we went out and got. We want to do what's best for our fans and get ourselves a championship here. So, we're going to do our best to get that."

Wilf said it will take time to build the Vikings into a Super Bowl team.

"Like I said, it's going to take building year after year, and I think we've started getting it pretty good as we've started to understand what it takes to put together a ballclub that's built for the long run and not just for the one-shot affair," Wilf said. "I think that's what we're trying to do. And I think bringing Rick [Spielman] aboard and having coach Brad Childress work with him and Rob [Brzezinski] has worked.

"What I had envisioned, and with my brother Mark's input -- I think we're working as a team behind the scenes to put the players I think that can work together to get ourselves a championship, and that's what we're going to try to do."

Regarding a new stadium for the Vikings he said: ''We're committed to the Metrodome site, and we're trying to see what we can do to get back on the agenda for the next couple of years. We're working out different scenarios."

Big Wild owner

Craig Leipold, the new majority owner of the Wild, will have a partner with a big share of the stock in the club.

His name is Phil Falcone, one of the owners of a big financial company in New York called Harbinger Capital.

"I will own 30 to 40 percent of the team," Falcone said at the state hockey tournament this week. "Leipold will be the operating officer of the team.''

Meanwhile, the word is that a couple of former minority owners will sell their share of the team.

Jottings

Glen Sonmor, who doubles as a scout for the Wild and a color commentator on the Gophers hockey broadcasts on WCCO radio, said Roseau hockey star Aaron Ness could go in the first round of the NHL draft.

"I think I am watching Mike Crowley again when I look at Ness," Sonmor said.

''Crowley scored more than 150 points for the Gophers, and he was small, like Ness, about 5-9. And Crowley would have done well in the NHL if not for some serious injuries."

Lou Nanne, the former general manager of the North Stars, applauded the Wild's acquisition of Chris Simon from the Islanders even though he had just come off an NHL-record 30-game suspension and has been suspended seven other times.

"I got to know Simon as a young man since he grew up close to the area where I spent the early days of my life," Nanne said. "He is not a bad person. The Wild needed a tough guy, and he can fill that position. I would have done the same thing [Wild GM] Doug Risebrough did if I was in Doug's position."

Gophers forward Dan Coleman has been named to the National Basketball Coaches Association (NABC) Division I All District 11 team. Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith compares Coleman to Tayshaun Prince, the current Detroit Pistons basketball star who played for Smith at Kentucky.

"He's got the Tayshaun Prince-type skills," said Smith of Coleman. "Tayshaun's basketball IQ was extremely high, and Dan still works at that, but I think his talent, his speed, his athleticism, reminds me of Tayshaun. He can cover a lot of ground, great long arms; they're not quite as long as Tayshaun Prince's, but he reminds me a lot of him."

Remember the name Danilo Gallinari, a 6-9 small forward playing in Europe who a lot of NBA scouts say could be the first player taken in the draft. The Wolves have scouted him and like him a lot. ... Meanwhile, Loukas Mavrokefalidis, a European player taken by the Wolves in the second round of the 2006 draft, is not displaying the type of form that could help the Wolves in the future.

Former Gophers goalie Jim Jetland, an employee of United Properties, recently was honored as Broker of the Year by the Minnesota Commercial Association of Realtors.

Gophers track coach Phil Lundin said he has never had two freshmen perform in a Big Ten track meet like Brock Spandl and Hassan Mead. Spandl finished third in the pole vault (16 feet, 8¾ inches) and fourth in the heptathlon. Mead finished second in the 5,000 meters and third in the 3,000.

The scoreboard that will be installed in the new Gophers football stadium will 110x50 feet, or bigger than the basketball court at Williams Arena.

The new Twins stadium will include the Champions Club, which will have 400 extra-wide seats behind home plate and will cost about $200 each, which will include food, beverage, parking and access to the Champions Club Lounge, which will have sit-down dining. There will be about 3,000 club seats that would be in the $50-plus range. Fans will be able to view the installation of seats in the spring of next year. The capacity of the stadium will be around 40,000. An exact figure will not be known until the stadium is almost completed.

Matt Janning, a 2006 graduate of Watertown-Mayer High School who now attends Northeastern University in Boston, received two honors this past week. He was named the Colonial Athletic Association Basketball Player of the Week and was named to the National Basketball Coaches District 1 second team. He averaged 16.4 points per game.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com

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