Even if it’s the “state of hockey”, the Minnesota Wild are one of the NHL’s newest franchises. The Wild are still building their own history. When the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas, they took almost three decades of history with them.
The future may be bright for the Wild. How could it not be when you have Kirill Kaprizov? Looking back on the just over two decades worth of Minnesota Wild franchise history, what are a few moments that stick out? The 2022 Winter Classic is one for sure. How about ending Patrick Roy’s career and advancing to the conference finals in their first ever playoff run back in 2003?
One moment that sticks out above them all was the day they signed Ryan Suter and Zach Parise on July 4, 2012. It was a day I remember well, for the wrong reasons since Parise broke my New Jersey Devils fan heart coming off a Stanley Cup Final run. That was the day the just over a decade old franchise “grew up” and felt like it could hang with the NHL’s big boys. Of course, the story didn’t really have a happy ending, as the Wild would buy out the remaining years on Parise and Suter’s twin pacts in the 2021 offseason.
Zach Parise is in third place in franchise history in both points and goals, while Ryan Suter sits second in assists. Parise and Suter may still have a bit of hockey left in their tanks, but they are in the twilight of their NHL careers. Has either done enough to get their number retired by the Wild? The only number the Wild have ever retired was Mikko Kouivo’s number nine. The Wild also retired the number “one” for their fans. For comparison, Koivu sits in first place in franchise history for points and assists and second in goals to Marian Gaborik.
Expectations were high for the Minnesota Wild after they signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter as free agents in the summer of 2012. Should their numbers be in the Minnesota rafters?
Yes, Parise and Suter never reached the franchise’s ultimate goal of winning a championship. The Wild only advanced past the first round of the playoffs twice in the Parise/Suter era. The NHL is experiencing an uptick in number retirements. Parise and Suter’s Minnesota resumes are similar to that of Rick Nash with the Columbus Blue Jackets who recently had his number retired. Plus Parise has the legacy of his dad being a famous Minnesota North Star as well. J.P. Parise did not have his number retired by the North Stars franchise.
Everything about the Parise and Suter era in Minnesota has a feeling of unfinished business. Those contracts might not have aged well, but if the post 2020 financial restrictions on the sports didn’t happen (like the flat salary cap) maybe something more could have happened. If they took backseat roles, maybe Parise, Suter and Kaprisov could have lead Minnesota to its first cup championship.
The more we think about it, maybe that’s the reason we’re putting Parise and Suter on that pedestal. Minnesota fans saw two of their own come back to the state of hockey with sky high expectations. Among those expectations, were championships and a franchise legacy. Unfortunately, they only lived up to a small part of that legacy.
The major X-Factor here is that Parise and Suter are still playing. Even if retirement is on the horizon, it’s easy to expect they’ll at least stay around for a few more seasons. Then again, retirement speculation already started for Zach Parise following the New York Islanders’ loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. What if one of those seasons includes a reunion for one or both of them back in Minnesota on a cheaper, cap friendly deal? What if they return and assist in Minnesota winning a Stanley Cup, but with a smaller role than was envisioned back in 2012? Would that ensure a place in franchise history?
Had things gone according to plan Parise and Suter would have had their numbers retired. That was the scenario the Wild envisioned when they put pen to paper ion that fateful July day over a decade ago. Now if Minnesota fans are going to watch any superstar succeed, it’s Kaprisov. Maybe he can lead them to where Parise and Suter couldn’t. Ironically, Parise and Suter’s cap hit are going to affect the supporting vast that Kaprisov is going to have around him for the time being.