Ron Gardenhire #35 of the Minnesota Twins talks with umpire Hunter Wendelstedt as Joe Mauer #7 looks on during there game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on May 20, 2012 during interleague play in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Twins 16-4.
(May 19, 2012 - Source: Scott Boehm/Getty Images North America)

Minnesota Twins Gardenhire, Mauer help recruit Parise


Getting Minneapolis-native Zach Parise to return home was obviously a big and expensive effort on the Minnesota Wild’s part, but they didn’t do it alone.

Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports that Minnesota Twins star catcher Joe Mauer and manager Ron Gardenhire participated in the recruitment video sent to Parise. However, this wasn’t a simple courtesy cameo.

Well before Parise became a free agent, Gardenhire had a signed photo of the former-Devils captain on his Target Field bulletin board. Parise has also joined the Twins for batting practice a couple times over the years and met Mauer in the process.

Gardenhire offered Parise “18,000 rounds of batting practice” if he signed with the Wild, along with a $5 bill that he displayed on camera. Somehow, we don’t think Parise will take the money, but now that he’s signed with his hometown team, he’ll probably be spending significantly more time with the Twins.

That should make Gardenhire happy. Maybe Parise will even sign a new picture of him wearing a Wild jersey to replace the outdated one that Gardenhire has.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.