We're in DefCon 5- Mike Russo is making radio appearances every hour on the hour, and Twitter has become an endless reel of varying reports that are confirmed by the reputable media types tweeting them, even though they are contradictory.
Parise is going to Pittsburgh. Wait, no- Minnesota is in the lead..or is it Chicago now? Detroit is sending a contingent to Ryan Suter's Farm. Wait, Neil Sheehy hasn't heard anything about an SUV full of men in suits driving down a dirt road toward a piece of land in rural Wisconsin.
So what we know now is...not much more than before. Still in a holding pattern waiting to exhale.
A perfect way to put it here in the Twin Cities; the nearly wall to wall coverage of Free Agent Frenzy is basically unprecedented. The last time the Minnesota Wild got this much media attention was what...the last time they made the playoffs? But its not so much the actual team or organization, nor Zach Parise, nor the dogged pursuit of him (and Ryan Suter, and the notion that these two are mutually inclusive is somewhat sketchy to me. But it certainly seems like if we sign one, we should be able to sign the other. What is this, the NBA?!?)
Its that subconsciously the signing of Parise, who seems to become the figurehead for the entire free agency period this summer, would mark the legitimacy of a franchise that is largely treated like a red headed step child in the local sports market.
Part of it is circumstance- the former expansion franchise is only in its teenage years of existence whilst the rest of the Big Four- The Vikings, The Twins, and The Timberwolves- are all much older than that, with their histories interwoven into the fabric of the market. Despite the slick marketing slogan, The Wild basically suck hind tit coverage wise- a product of many of the notable sportswriters in town; The Souhans, The Hartmans, The Reusses, The Sansaveres, etc. simply not being "hockey guys." If you writing about the team because you HAVE to, and not because you are INVESTED in it, then you simply aren't going to cover it unless there is cannon fodder.
So, there is this do or die feel that underlies this holding pattern we are in. Death or glory- The team suddenly becomes very very relevant with the addition of local boy Zach Parise or Wisconsin Native Ryan Suter. Finally, someone with star quality signs with a Minnesota team! The extensive groundwork has been already laid in effort to ensure this team is built for long-term success by General Manager Chuck Fletcher, and the additions of two high end players in their prime only serve to expedite that. Visions of raising Lord Stanley's Cup are abound in people's heads.
However, what do we do if Fletcher strikes out? We simply turn away in disgust, even though things, for the first time maybe ever, look bright and sturdy and promising?
No one will give a shit about Plan B; its simply Parise/Suter or bust. Again we'll hear the familiar laments of not being able to sign or lure high profile players to Minnesota, and again The Wild will be cast aside, akin to putting a pan of bacon grease on the back burner to cool down and be dealt with later. No trade will bring in Zach Parise, or Ryan Suter, even though it may very well be someone of similar skillset and aptitude.
It just won't have the pizzazz or flash that could very well take place pretty much anytime in the near future.
Why, I ask, does it feel that way? It feels so make or break, like things are hinging on whether or not these twenty-somethings sign the dotted line.
I understand the PR boost that will come from it, but it doesn't have to be the end all be all.