Hockey stars want to play in Minnesota. Basketball stars do not.
If Zach Parise and Ryan Suter had not decided that they wanted to play together at the X, the Wild would not have made the playoffs the past two years, and might not have been able to sign former Gopher Thomas Vanek. The Wild would resemble the Wolves.
The Wild brain trust deserves some credit for luring players with local ties, because Parise would not have chosen a team if he didn’t think he would have a chance to win, and Parise is both the Wild’s best player and its free-agent beacon.
Without Parise and Suter, the Wild’s other moves either wouldn’t matter, or wouldn’t have been possible.
The Wild can offer an owner willing to spend until it hurts, a spectacular arena, a remarkably loyal fan base and an organization filled with promising youngsters. Given what the franchise has to offer, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the arrival of Parise, Suter and Vanek.
What can the Timberwolves offer?
Their owner once paid Joe Smith under the table, and hired David Kahn. They have followed Kahn’s horrific drafts by using first-round picks on players from UCLA — one of whom is a ball hog, the other of whom didn’t even start last season for the Bruins. They have won two playoff series in franchise history.
They play in a mediocre facility, during winters so harsh most Minnesotans flee the state as often as they can afford a plane ticket. While local hockey players love staying in Minnesota during the summer, most basketball players leave the day after the season ends for bigger cities and warmer climes.
The Wolves’ best player wants out. They never have signed a premier free agent in his prime.
After rumors were published describing a trade that would send Love elsewhere and bring in Golden State guard Klay Thompson, whose father played for the Gophers, Mychal Thompson said:
“It just kind of depressed me.’’
And: “I’m going to have to talk [Klay] down off a ledge.’’
The Wild has operated more shrewdly than the Wolves for the past five years. The Wild also has taken advantage of its advantage — the ability to lure star players to what is becoming an American hockey mecca.
Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org