Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
Find him on Twitter
I've been saying on the radio for days that I didn't think Zach Parise would sign with the Wild. I thought the lure of playing with Sidney Crosby, or staying with the Devils, or joining the Red Wings, would be the deciding factor.
I was very wrong, and I'm very happy about that.
This is a rare day in Twin Cities history, a day when one of our tent-post sports team lured the No. 1 free agent on the market to Minnesota.
Craig Leipold emailed me last night, hinting that this was going to be a good week for him and his franchise, and today he and general manager Chuck Fletcher pulled it off, signing Parise and Ryan Suter.
This is a win for Leipold because his franchise is now an NHL player and a local draw. It's also a win for Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo, If Parise and Suter didn't feel either was competent and promising, they could have easily gone elsewhere.
So, to recap: Congratulations to the Wild on creating one of the most stunning days in Twin Cities sports history. I was wrong, and I'm glad I was.
As Zach Parise has spent three days hearing pitches from teams, discussing deals with his agent and meeting with his family and advisors, I've heard fans accuse him of becoming the next Brett Favre, of actling like a diva and keeping teams, and the free agency process, on hold.
Give me a break. Give him a break.
He's a thoughtful guy who's taking all of these immense offers seriously and doing his due diligence before making one of the biggest decisions of his life. He has to weigh opportunities to win, money, cities and travel. I don't blame him a bit for taking his time.
Plus, it's been three days. Three days! If he had signed on Sunday, that would have meant that he knew where he was going before free agency even started. He spent much of Tuesday traveling.
The people complaining about Parise's patience are fans who think it's Parise's job to make them happy, and media members who didn't want to be bothered on July 4.
This really isn't about you.
The longer Parise deliberates, the more you have to believe he's taking all offers seriously. That can only help the Wild.
By next year, none of us will remember whether Parise took three or five days to make this decision., Only his decision will matter.
I'm writing about the Wild's pursuit of Parise for the Wednesday paper. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
OK, about to watch Thunder-Spurs, here are my NHL and NBA picks, along with an admission that I never would have picked LA or Jersey to make it to the finals in the NHL, had I bothered to pick at the beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs:
Eastern Conference NBA Finals, otherwise known as the Slumber Games:
Miami over Boston in 5. Rondo will be brilliant enough to win at least one game, but Wade and James are playing together beautifully right now.
Western Conference Finals:
San Antonio over OKC in six. I'm tempted to pick San Antonio in five, because I think they match up so well with the Thunder, but it's hard not to envision a couple of game-winning shots from Westbrook and/or Durant.
The Spurs have the better coach and the deeper roster, and while I don't usually consider ``experience'' a key factor, I think the Spurs' combination of experience and rest will play to their favor.
Stanley Cup Finals
I like the way Jersey is playing, and I love the way Parise is playing, and Brodeur is on the doorstep of history. But I'd never bet a dollar on hockey. Too many funny bounces.
The Twins are on historically-bad paces for losses and ERA, and you know what? It could be worse.
Where would this team be if P.J. Walters and Scott Diamond hadn't materialized out of thin air?
On the TNT pregame show tonight, Charles Barkley ripped ``all the talking heads'' who ripped Shaquille O'Neal as a potential NBA general manager. Chuck made a great point, saying: ``I've been in the NBA, and there are a lot of dumb GMs.''
The man has a way with words.
I'll be on 1500espn with Reusse and Mackey at 2:05 on Monday.
I like Mike Yeo. I'll take his side in his flare-up with Marek Zidlicky. I don't think he had much to do with his players choking against Nashville on Tuesday night,
I will take issue with this: He shouldn't have blamed the loss on his players being tired. The home team, playing with a big league, coming off the All-Star break, can't use that excuse.
Pressed on that matter, Yeo said that professional athletes, after a five-day break, are likely to be lacking in conditioning. I don't buy it. Hockey players who have been skating hard since last summer should benefit from a break, should come back with fresh legs.
Also, this is generally a young team. Fatigue should not be a factor with them.
Tuesday night, the Wild absolutely choked. No further explanation is needed.
Amazing how our quiet, borderline-depressing sports scene continues to make news. A month ago, I feared a summer in which the Twins were irrelevant and the NFL was dormant.
Now I expect the Twins to play meaningful games all season, the NFL to start on time, and the Wolves to be much more interesting by this fall.
I'm not sure what they're thinking.
They pushed Jacques Lemaire out. Lemaire's message may have gotten old, but he's a hockey genius. They replaced him with Todd Richards. Fine, you went with a young coach and planned to be patient while he developed. But then you fired him after two years, probably just as he was adapting fully to the job.
And then you went looking for a veteran coach. Craig MacTavish? Sounds good. Ken Hitchcock? Love it.
Now, I'm not predicting that Yeo will fail. Maybe he'll be a great coach, and Chuck Fletcher has made a brilliant, insightful, move. That wouldn't be shocking.
But this is a strange progression, from veteran brilliant coach to long shot to...long shot.
Because what Fletcher doesn't know about Yeo is exactly what he didn't know about Richards - how he would react to the pressure, the speed, and the players of the NHL.
This smells like a money-saving move. Yeo is thrilled to have the job. MacTavish and Hitchcock would have wanted money and influence. For a franchise needing credibility and a way to keep fans interested, this is a puzzling move.
Whatever the Wolves' problems, they may be close to passing the Wild in terms of intrigue and watchability.
-Wolves' exec Tony Ronzone told our Jerry Zgoda and other reporters today that the Wolves plan to hold onto the No. 2 pick and take the best player available. That is exactly the right approach. Derrick Williams is the right choice at No. 2. He might be talented enough to make Ricky Rubio look good.
After speaking with a few people around the NBA, I believe that if the Wolves take Williams, they'll need to trade Michael Beasley. Beasley is a nice enough guy, and he can score, but he doesn't play defense and doesn't get his points in a structured, reliable, way. You don't want Williams having to share shots with him. Williams could become a star.
-I'm rooting for Rory McIlroy. Golf needs a magnetic, charismatic, brilliantly-talented star to capture the imagination. Martin Kaymer doesn't cut it. And Phil Mickelson looks like he'll never win another major.
-Joe Mauer spoke today. He looked lean and tanned, and he handled the tougher questions very well.
He was asked about people who have criticized him for an unwillingness to play hurt. He called the critics, ``Misinformed.'' That's a logical response, but what he should know is that his slow recovery created critics not just in the media, but throughout his organization and in his clubhouse and among former players.
The percentage of Twins' employees rolling their eyes about Mauer's timetable was about the same as the percentage of fans screaming about him.
-Wrote my Friday column on the Twins' latest improbable victory, and Ozzie Guillen's latest nickname for their lineup. I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 Friday.
-My prayers go out to E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who is recovering from a stroke. I listened to a bunch of hair bands with my high school buddies until one day we were driving around, and this sax break played over the radio, interrupting a song featuring lyrics about life, and death, and redemption, and I could never listen to Styx again.
Clarence played that sax, and as much as I love Springsteen, the best moments of his glorious concerts always feature Clemons, as soloist or foil. I stopped listening to ``Jungleland'' years ago...except for Clemons' amazing, emotive, expressive solo, during which, in concert, Springsteen always walks around the stage, pumping his fist, leading cheers for the Big Man. As it should be, and I hope someday will be again.
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