Wild owner Craig Leipold became the man of the summer when he landed top-tier free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on Wednesday. He penned a letter to Wild fans where he called the signings a “huge step forward.”
On Thursday, Leipold seemed just as enthusiastic.
“This is a game changer,” Leipold said, according to the Washington Times. “We’re overnight changing who we are. We’re changing our identity. We’ll never get that opportunity again.”
That’s certainly a fair statement. The team sold 700 season tickets on Wednesday. Wild fans clearly seem to share Leipold’s upbeat attitude and outside of Minnesota, fans of opposing teams are looking at the Wild in a new light.
It also reinforces that in the salary cap era, sometimes the often overlooked teams can compete with franchises that have a better reputation for success.
“We didn’t think we were going to get either one,” Leipold admitted. “We heard Detroit was hot on Suter. All we know is what we’re reading. We were hearing we were up against Pittsburgh, Chicago, teams that have won in the last three or four years. These aren’t just your normal run-of-the-mill teams. They’re winning right now.”
In Minnesota, Parise and Suter were not only able to play close to home, but on a team that already had strong goaltending and a nice list of up-and-coming prospects. The Wild haven’t won a playoff series since 2003, but with this boost, they’re relevant again.