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Minnesota owner Leipold pens letter to fans: “We are obviously thrilled with this outcome”


In a move out of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s book (minus the vitriol and Comic Sans font), Minnesota owner Craig Leipold issued a letter to Wild fans discussing the signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million deals.

Read the letter here

Rather than post Leipold’s entire missive, I’ll highlight the interesting parts:

He acknowledged the team’s been lousy lately

The Wild haven’t made the playoffs in four years — coincidentally, Leipold bought the team four years ago — and last year was just the third time in franchise history the Wild had more losses than wins.

“Long story short …things didn’t work out the way I expected,” Leipold wrote. “Issues in and out of our control went south, and I’ll be the first to acknowledge we have struggled.”

There were pricier offers on the table

“I know they both had numerous, attractive offers (some higher than ours),” the Minnesota owner wrote.

Given that Parise and Suter signed for $98 million, it’s safe to assume someone — or some teams — offered nine digits.

Minnesota had a secret weapon

No, it wasn’t the ability to spend $196 million dollars. Leipold said it’s something more much precious than that.

I felt like we had a “secret weapon” working in our favor during these negotiations…the spirit and dedication of you fans of the State of Hockey. It’s no secret that both Zach and Ryan have strong ties to this area. They’ve had first-hand experience with the extraordinary pride and unrelenting passion of our fans. Ultimately,
I firmly believe that you fans were the deciding factor in their decision.

A little  corny, but hey. It’s July 4th and the Wild just pulled off a coup.

Chuck Fletcher deserves a ton of credit

Leipold wrote the cheques, but it was clear more than money was required to finalize the deals (especially since both *allegedly* left cash on the table.) The Wild owner praised his GM’s “ambitious plan” and is “extremely proud” of the work Fletcher and his group did in landing Parise and Suter.

In closing — this was a big day for the state of Minnesota.

Soak it in, Wild fans.

After years of hype, McDavid to play first NHL game

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The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.

The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.

“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”

McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.

But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.

That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.

“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”

Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.

Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”