Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/21/13 at 01:35 PM ET
from Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated,
Sure, hockey-crazed Minnesota has yearned for a successful team in the NHL, but a winning Wild would also be just as good for the league as it tries to recover from the long lockout that bruised its image. While Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles have won the last three Stanley Cup titles, Minnesota is hockey's answer to Green Bay, a smaller but vital market with enthusiasm that far exceeds raw numbers.
"It would mean a lot to the NHL and the game if we won our first Cup here," says forward Zach Parise. "If you judge hockey markets by how much it matters to people, Minnesota is as strong as any market in Canada."
Before the lockout took hold, the Wild had made hockey's biggest offseason splash by signing Parise, the Devils' captain last season, and Predators defenseman Ryan Suter to belt-busting (and identical) 13-year, $98 million free agent contracts. Both players are skilled and savvy, former All-Stars and U.S. Olympic teammates with ties to the region. Parise's dad, J.P., played a total of nine years for the NHL's old Minnesota North Stars, later became an assistant coach for the team, and still lives in the area. Suter, one of the game's best two-way defensemen, grew up in neighboring Wisconsin and often visited the Twin Cities for summer tournaments.
"When you'd see families obsessed with the game in the middle of July," says Suter, "you knew there was no place for hockey like Minnesota."
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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