Signings meant to dig Wild 'out of hole'

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 9, 2012 - 10:41 PM

Owner Craig Leipold said winning is the best way to make team profitable.

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The Wild introduced Ryan Suter and Zach Parise at a news conference on Monda at Xcel Energy Center.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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On April 12, Wild owner Craig Leipold told the Star Tribune, "We're not making money, and that's one reason we need to fix our system. We need to fix how much we're spending right now."

The national media picked up on the quote and accused Leipold of hypocrisy after his decision to sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to $196 million in long-term contracts last week.

Leipold responded Monday, saying, "Listen: We've been losing money and the way we were going, we were going to have another year of 'keep losing more money and more money and more money.' So if I'm going to make the kind of financial commitment to keep this team and move this forward, I'd rather do it growing it.

"Ultimately that was the decision. As a result of this move, it's not going to cause us to be financially stable. I believe it will be within a year or two. This is a move to get us out of the hole that we've been digging. And as I spoke with some other owners in the league as to why I did it, they totally get it. They understand it. At some point you have to make that kind of commitment in order to turn your franchise around. If we didn't, then we would just keep losing more going forward without any plan of changing it."

Ironically, the day after the spending spree, Leipold was one of the owners who sat in the bargaining session between the NHL and NHL Players' Association in New York. The league has moved to terminate the collective bargaining agreement and negotiate another. The current agreement expires Sept. 15, and the league is in danger of a lockout. In 2004-05, the season was wiped out because of a lockout.

Leipold said it wasn't awkward being in the session and added that before signing Parise and Suter, he gave Commissioner Gary Bettman a "heads-up" as to the Wild's plans, the money it would likely take and its strategy.

"He wasn't blindsided by it," Leipold said.

Leipold said the 13-year, $98 million deals for Parise and Suter "shows the system does need to be changed. ... There's a better way to run a business than the way we are experiencing it right now, and that's what we hope to accomplish moving forward."

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