The Road Leads Where It's Led
I first heard about the Wild going hard after both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sometime in the middle of last season. They were both from there, they had the cap space, and more importantly they had to reinvigorate a fanbase that had been jaded first by boring hockey, and then bad hockey. And it's too good of a hockey market to be a jaded one. Word on the street was that the Wild wouldn't be outbid, and it would just come down to whether Parise, Suter, or both could be patient enough to wait for a couple kids to come through to make Minnehaha a real threat (like Zucker and Granlund). We got our answer today.
Most reactions I've seen from Hawks Nation has been pretty level headed. They offered what they could, it wasn't enough, it happens. The courting of Parise was curious, as the buzz all spring and summer had been the Hawks were far more interested in Suter. That made sense, as the Hawks probably have a hole on their 2nd pairing so you might as well see if you can't get the best possible guy to fill it. The Parise chase felt a little like just chasing the biggest name because it's fun to chase the biggest name. Or maybe it was part of a plan to lure Suter, I don't really know. In the end, they got neither, and we'll see what Stan Bowman's real plan was.
I'm sure the unwashed will call Stan a complete failure for not landing a player or two that they think they've heard of, and I'll get annoyed when they do. Ray Shero in Pittsburgh cleared the decks for a run at one or both and came up empty, is he an idiot? Doubt anyone thinks so. Ken Holland has watched his team become old, small, and not as fast as some of its competitors and was banking on landing one or both to revive what looks to be a team in decline. He missed. Is he an idiot? Don't anyone will call him that.
What now? Hard to say. Matt Carle is still out there, though that comes with a bit of a tentativeness at his puck-handling. Do they wait to see if Shane Doan leaves? That's some size and snarl up front, but it can be very dumb size and snarl and there will be a lot of competition for it which will make it expensive, dumb size and snarl. Trade? There's probably no way to get Bobby Ryan without giving up Patrick Kane, and that's kind of a lateral move. Sam Gagner? Possibly, though not sure exactly what that solves as he's still a bit light in the ass. What I do feel is that whatever plan they embark on now is the one Stan really knew was going to be the way, as this Parise-Suter stuff was fantasy island.
Maybe McDonough pushes for Luongo because he wants a splash, but I hope not. Should be interesting. The best result would have been one or both in Chicago. The next would have been both being in the Eastern Conference (which Suter wouldn't have done anyway). But his is pretty good, as the Wild are still going to be a year or two away from being a threat at the top of the conference, but good enough to keep Vancouver from simply tangoing their way through their division.
Now the work begins.