Wednesday was a very frustrating day for Wings fans all over as it was announced that the Minnesota Wild of all teams made the biggest free agent splash by winning the Zach Parise/Ryan Suter sweepstakes.
The Wild, who have pretty much been the definition of mediocre in the National Hockey League broke the bank by signing both players to 13 year contracts worth $98 million dollars. It was reported that the Red Wings’ offer to Suter was roughly 13 years for $90 million while the Parise offer was assumed to right around that number as well.
Immediately after the signings, shock waves and questions began to arise in the NHL as to whether or not the Hockeytown luster that reigned over the NHL for so many years was beginning or already had lost it’s luster?
But the thing is though the luster or lack there of in Hockeytown isn’t a new question by any means, it seems like those disgruntled fans of the Wings and it’s critics have been posing it year after year since 2008 (the last time the Wings won the Stanley Cup).
Now there’s a few ways you can look at that question to try to answer it.
First, I don’t know if it’s necessarily fair to say Hockeytown is losing it’s luster since it seems like other teams are gaining luster. As much as Wings fans may want to think the team can still go out and spend the way they use to prior lockout that just isn’t the case. Sure spending $90 million on a single player is a lot but Ken Holland and the Wings knew their limits and let’s be real here, this isn’t the NBA where there’s fewer roster spots and generally holes to fill. Simply put the salary cap era has progressively leveled the playing field in the NHL. Just ask the Nashville Predators and this year’s Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
With that said, winning isn’t everything for a player, hence the Parise and Suter deals with Minnesota. Sure they’re playing closer to home and together mind you but they also got ridiculous amounts of money to further sweeten the deal. Not to mention Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Philadelphia couldn’t compete with the advantages of playing close to home but you’d have to figure they offer a much better chance at winning a Stanley Cup than Minnesota does. And I don’t really hear anyone talking about Pittsburgh or Chicago losing their luster, cache or intrigue. You could also say the same when talking about Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, yes they wanted to win but they also knew Detroit did as well and was going to spend money to do it. Back when there was no salary cap of course.
Finally, let’s be real here, the Wings are still very much destination for many players out there. From what I can remember Parise and Suter took a few days to finally decide on Minnesota and Detroit was right there with it. In fact it may have been between Minnesota and Detroit at the end for Suter given that the Wings and Wild seemed to be the only two teams to have face-to-face meetings with him. Let’s also not forget about Rick Nash and the Wings being on his very limited list of acceptable destinations via trade.