Scoggins: Image overhaul for Wild was bonus in Parise-Suter deal

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 7, 2012 - 12:58 AM

In the Twin Cities and beyond, the megadeal eliminates the overused "wait and see" crutch from any critique of the team.

hide

New Suter and Parise jerseys

The Wild's road map looked so much different three months ago. Actually, even a week ago.

Help was on the way. The kids were coming. A team that had become stale and boring and predictable would get injected with life -- and skill -- with the arrival of Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, Johan Larsson and the rest of the crew.

The youngsters promised to bring excitement and energy. And hope. Let them learn on the job, develop against the NHL's best and in two or three years the Wild would reap the benefits of this rebuilding plan.

That's why General Manager Chuck Fletcher professed optimism as he picked through the rubble of a disappointing season wrecked by a sustained free-fall that ensured a fourth consecutive playoff absence.

"We're not far away at all," he said in April.

They are a whole lot closer now, the timeline accelerated by the additions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, prized free agents who are regarded as top-10 players at their positions.

In a span of 24 hours, the Wild transformed itself and its image, shifting from a team with a promising future to an immediate playoff team on paper and in perception. That's the expectation now. That's what happens when an owner steps forward and spends $196 million on two highly coveted players.

Everything changes. People look at this team differently now.

The Wild sold 700 new season tickets within five hours of the signings on a holiday. One sports betting website moved the Wild's odds of winning the Stanley Cup to 22-1, compared to 200-1 a few weeks ago. The team became media darlings as the hockey world applauded the organization's boldness and commitment.

Can you imagine the fallout if this team misses the playoffs next spring?

"Clearly, there's going to be higher expectations, and there should be," Fletcher said. "That's a good thing."

The Wild probably is not a true Stanley Cup contender yet. The team still has some holes in the roster, and the young defensive corps needs seasoning. This is not a finished product by any means. But the Wild unequivocally has more talent, better depth and enough pieces to be a playoff team this season.

Parise's ability to score (194 goals, 410 career points) should boost an anemic offense that mustered only 166 goals last season, the lowest output in the NHL since the 2004-05 lockout. Suter makes the blue line instantly more consistent and reliable.

Injuries are a wild card in any sport. They are unavoidable and can dramatically alter a season, but the Wild is better equipped to handle those instances now, even if it involves one of the top players.

The roster remake also means the Wild won't rush its prospects. Granlund is a lock, but everyone else must earn their way on the roster in training camp. "It makes it more difficult to make the team," Fletcher said.

Management can have patience with the youngsters, but not with the results on the ice. A nightly lineup that features Parise, Suter, Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, a healthy Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Granlund, Kyle Brodziak, Marco Scandella and Niklas Backstrom or Josh Harding should succeed.

It's up to second-year coach Mike Yeo and his staff to make it all fit. Yeo endured a topsy-turvy debut on the Wild bench. He looked like a genius as his team shot to the top of the NHL standings with a 20-7-3 start. Then the season unraveled amid injuries and ineffectiveness, causing a frustrated Yeo to blast his team publicly on several occasions.

That approach won't work with this team. Nor should it be required. Yeo can become a successful NHL coach. His lineup resembled a minor league outfit at times last season. Injuries forced him to cobble together lines and ask players to perform above their ability too often. We should get a better evaluation of Yeo's coaching acumen this season, but the pressure is squarely on his shoulders.

Leipold's actions this week demonstrated just how badly he wants to win. Simply signing Parise or Suter would have improved his team, but he upped the ante and targeted both.

Leipold lives and dies with his team, something he put on full display when he invited a few media members to his suite for a game last season. Leipold screamed and squirmed and agonized over every icing. He watched from the edge of his seat, except when he stood and cheered.

Never mind that it was only a preseason game for a team that, truthfully, had no real grand expectations. That's no longer the case. The Wild's bold, aggressive moves made the rest of the NHL take notice.

That won't stop once the puck drops.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
Sacramento St 47 FINAL
Seattle 66
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
UNLV 71 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 74
UCLA 50 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 55 FINAL
Old Dominion 61
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close