Souhan: Leipold goes to great lengths in trying to produce a winner

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2012 - 9:47 PM

The 13-year contracts that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed are long, but the Wild owner believes he's making a wise investment.

hide

Wild owner Craig Leipold, left, Ryan Suter, center, and Zach Parise were all smiles Monday. All are counting on the millions that changed hands leading to winning a Stanley Cup.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed with the Wild for 13 years.

Thirteen years. That's like a marriage, only longer.

The "A" each wore on his new Wild jersey on Monday must stand for "Always."

Thirteen-year contracts are hard to fathom. Most free-agent contracts are about what the players and teams can do for each other right now.

The guy gets paid. The team gets pub. Everyone promises to try to win right away. Three or four or six years later, both sides move on, often with hard feelings.

Free agency is speed-dating for rich people. The relationship between the Wild and its two new stars is more like a mortgage. A really expensive mortgage.

Monday, Parise and Suter joined the Wild brain trust at a dais for their introductory press conference. If Parise and Suter fulfill their goals of finishing their career with the Wild, how many of the people in the audience and in the Wild organization will be there to see their farewell ceremony?

If the Wild underwent the customary NHL turnover in the next 13 years, Parise and Suter could play for four coaches, three general managers and two owners.

Unless coach Mike Yeo and General Manager Chuck Fletcher start winning, Parise and Suter, both of whom have no-trade clauses, are likely to outlast them. If something goes wrong with this plan, Parise and Suter may wind up making more profit per year than owner Craig Leipold.

"It's investment spending," Leipold said. "We knew we had to make something happen."

Leipold is not only right, he should become the patron saint of Minnesota sports owners.

Anyone who lived through the payroll purges of the late-'90s Twins and the post-Kevin Garnett Timberwolves knows that they only thing more expensive than good free agents is not signing any.

But 13 years? That's the length of 72 Kardashian marriages, or 41 Brett Favre press conferences.

How long is 13 years? Thirteen years ago, the Twins had yet to be threatened with contraction, Kevin McHale had just made an under-the-table deal with Joe Smith, Randall Cunningham was playing quarterback for the Vikings and the Wild did not yet exist.

Last season, Yeo's team collapsed while he tried every motivational tactic short of making his players listen to Skip Bayless after losses. Now he'll be coaching guys who can get him fired, either because they have raised expectations or because they don't like him.

"Should I try to make a deal?" Yeo joked. "Try to be here as long as they are?

"That's OK. The reason why you give a commitment like that to those two types of guys is because they're quality human beings, they're competitors and they want to win."

The Wild immediately offered 13-year deals when free agency began.

"We figured if they wanted to talk shorter terms they could, but we wanted to let them know we wanted them to be here for the rest of their careers," Fletcher said. "We were all in. I expect these guys to be playing right through the end of it.''

Fletcher said 13-year contracts were the longest possible because of the way the collective bargaining agreement regards 40-year-old players. You get the feeling they would have offered 15-year deals if they could have.

"Does it worry me?" Leipold said. "Hey, every season, every player, every contract worries me."

Then he chuckled and said, "This one probably worries me a little bit more."

While Leipold beamed and fretted like a proud father handing car keys to his 16-year-old, former owner Bob Naegele watched the news conference from the wings.

In 2005, Naegele fielded an entire NHL team with a payroll of $23 million. This summer, Leipold will spend that much on bonuses due Parise, Suter and Mikko Koivu.

Leipold is banking on Parise and Suter as players, human beings, recruiters, tutors, marketers and spokesmen.

Most of all, Leipold has to hope they really like winning. Because while most of us are motivated by future paychecks and the vague hope of job security and a decent retirement, Parise and Suter are set for life. Or at least as far into life as any of us can pretend to see.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 3 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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: Should private schools have their own state tournaments?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close