The Minnesota Wild made headlines on July 4 after signing the prizes of the free agent pool, forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million deals. Since then, it's been all smiles in the State of Hockey.
According to Ben Goessling of the Pinoeer Press, the Wild sold 850 season-ticket packages Wendesday after the news of the signings broke. By Friday, team spokesman Ryan Stanzel said that total had climbed to more than 1,500 packages.
In terms of jerseys, the Wild's team store inside the Xcel Energy Center has more than 200 Parise and Suter jerseys. On average, Stanzel said the team sells about a handful throughout July.
The signings have clearly excited a fanbase that hasn't had much in the way of success since 2003, when the team made it to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Anaheim Ducks. On top of it, Parise is a hometown boy that will attract even more fans an arena that had a 400-plus game sellout streak snapped in 2010.
Could these signings lead to a Winter Classic in Minnesota? Pierre McGuire believes so.
"Do I think they're going to get one? Yeah," he said. "They did a fantastic job with Hockey Day in America. They did a fantastic job with NBC. As far as more games on national TV, you'd have to think that will happen."
The Winter Classic greatly moved ahead of the All Star game. Cities want it, and there's a list of teams on that wait list, including New York, Washington and possibly Los Angeles. Obviously Minnesota would be ideal, with a few possibilities, including the newly opened Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, would make great venues for the outdoor game.
Suter and Parise add star power to a team that's lacked any since Marian Gaborik left the team after the 2009 season for New York. Don't underestimate those factors in regards to the Wild receiving more NBC and NBC Sports games, especially since both players are American born.
There's still work that needs to be done in Minnesota, but the blueprints for some good hockey clubs are already there. Now it's time management add more pieces to play alongside their stars.
Photo: Pioneer Press: Richard Marshall