Parise and Suter press conference and Lidstrom remains a Wing

By: Tim Kolupanowich, Executive Editor

@TimKolupan_

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have both been officially announced as members of the Minnesota Wild during a press conference at noon today. (Click here for part 1 and here for part 2) After an introduction from owner Craig Leopold, Parise and Suter donned Wild jerseys for the first time with Parise wearing no. 11 and Suter taking no. 20. Both were wearing an ‘A’ in the sweater as well.

“What they do on the ice, it speaks for itself,” said coach Mike Yeo on the two players being named alternate captains. “But what they’re going to add to our group from a leadership, from a character standpoint, obviously these guys are going to play a huge role for us and these guys, we’re expecting them to be leaders on this team for a long time.”

Zach Parise. (Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

When Parise, the former New Jersey Devils captain, was asked about how he felt being in a new locker room, he answered he was excited but did notice one major difference.

It was a little different walking through, not everyone was clean-shaven like I’m used to seeing in Jersey every day. But I think at that point you realize you’re starting the season somewhere else and got really excited that this is where it’s going to be. It was a good feeling walking downstairs and seeing the logos, going through and getting a tour of the locker room. I think we both got really excited to start.

Parise is coming off his fifth 30-goal season and first career Stanley Cup final appearance and will be a major factor in getting the Wild to that level for the first time in their history. Their best finish was a Western Conference final appearance in 2003. The Minnesota North Stars did reach the Cup final twice in 1981 and 1991 before moving to Dallas in 1993.

Both Parise and Suter have played with whole careers in New Jersey and Nashville respectively, two markets not known for being big hockey markets. Suter said the excitement of playing in from of the Wild fans was a factor in his decision to sign there.

We know how passionate the people of Minnesota are about hockey. Every time you come here the stadium’s packed, it’s loud. The guys, they play hard in front of their fans. I think that had a big thing to do with it, we know how great that fans are here.

The signings are so importnat to a team that has never been able to land a top free agent in their history, enough so that in the five days since the top two free agents committed to the Wild they have sold over 2,000 new seasons tickets.

Both players have know each other for a long time and have played together before, including the 2010 Olympics when they helped the United States earn a silver medal.

They join a team that has a good core in captain Mikko Koivu, goaltender Niklas Backstrom and wings Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley. They also have a lot of prospects waiting to join the big club and make an impact. They were ranked seventh in this year’s edition of Future Watch put out by The Hockey News and have five of the top 50 prospects. That includes center Mikael Granlund (no. 2, HIFK, Finland), defenseman Jonas Brodin (no. 12, Farjestad, Sweden), center Charlie Coyle (no. 14, Saint John, QMJHL), goalie Matt Hackett (no. 35, Houston, AHL) and left wing Johan Larsson (no. 38, Brynas, Sweden).

When the new kids do arrive, they have two new role models ready to show them the right way to play and win in the NHL.

*     *     *

Elsewhere, it looks as though Detroit Red Wings legend Nicklas Lidstrom will get his retirement wish.

The former defenseman, who retired this summer after 20 seasons in Detroit winning four Stanley Cups and seven Norris Trophies, stated in his retirement press conference he wanted to live in Sweden with his family while remaining tied to the Red Wings. (See the press conference here, go to 23:40 to see his discuss living in Sweden.)

Now Lidstrom will be able to do just that as he will remain with Detroit as a scout.

According to SBNation, Lidstrom will most likely have a choice as to whether he stays in North America or works back home in Sweden. From Dave Ryan:

Though Lidstrom’s specific role according to the team remains unclear, it’s likely that he’ll have his choice of whether to remain in Sweden or to return to the United States. Assistant Wings general manager Jim Nill mentioned that he has not talked with Lidstrom about the specifics of his scouting focus as of yet. “We might bring him back here,” Nill said. “It depends on the situation. His terms. We wanted to keep him in the organization.”

For a player who is a great ambassador for hockey on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, Lidstrom will be valuable to the Wings wherever he decides to live. It’s fitting the classiest individual and franchise in the NHL will continue to work together. Lidstrom is very excited for this chance and to remain with Detroit just like so many other greats have done. He mentioned Ted Lindsay’s continued role as an ambassador and how he wanted to do the same thing. From the video of him joining as a scout:

Ted Lindsay coming into our locker room and seeing his picture up on the wall in the room. And he played back in the 50s and he’s still keeping in touch with the team. Things like that have menat a lot to me. …I wanted to stay here, I wanted to be a Red Wing and as I got older and got deeper into my career, it just made sense to me that this is my home.

Since Nill did use the words “His terms” when discussing where Lidstrom would work and in what capacity, the former captain has every right to stay in Sweden. That doesn’t mean he won’t ever be back in Detroit though as Ryan pointed out. He could be evaluating Red Wings prospects and would still come over a few times a year for various team events.

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