Tuesday’s news out of Minnesota prompted a little trip down Detroit Red Wings memory lane.
In the summer of 2012, the Wings were trying to ameliorate the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom. Their top target was defenseman Ryan Suter. General manager Ken Holland, owner Mike Ilitch, coach Mike Babcock and executive advisor Chris Chelios met with Suter at his farm in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 3, offering $90 million over 13 years to the 27-year-old.
The Wings also pursued Zach Parise, considered the top free-agent forward available that summer. The Wings, four years removed from their last Stanley Cup championship, still saw themselves as contenders, and adding Suter and Parise would have stoked those hopes.
It wasn’t to be.
On July 4, Suter spurned the Wings, opting instead to sign with the Minnesota Wild. He and Parise agreed to 13-year, $98-million contracts with the Wild. For Suter, it was a chance to play closest to his family. Suter had been sold on the Wings until Parise called.
“I feel real disappointment that we weren’t able to land either or both,” Holland said at the time. “We were down to the short strokes. We lost out to family.”
On Tuesday, Wild general manager Bill Guerin announced the team’s intentions to buy out the final four years of both players’ contracts — a decision that will cost the Wild dead cap space for the next eight seasons. Three years will be particularly costly: According to Capfriendly, it will cost the Wild $12.8 million in salary cap space in 2022-23 and $14.8 million in 2023-24 and 2024-25. For each player, the charge is about $833,000 for each of the last four seasons, 2025-26 to 2028-29.
The decision opens up roster spaces, and facilitates the Wild’s decisions on who to protect in the Seattle
Since Suter and Parise joined Minnesota, the Wild only missed the playoffs once but have won just two of eight series. They have not won a round since 2015.
In 2012, Suter and Parise would have joined a Wings squad that included Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Niklas Kronwall, all in the prime of their careers. Jimmy Howard was the No. 1 goalie; he had a 35-17-4 record with a 2.12 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 57 games in 2011-12.
Had they been able to add players of Suter’s and Parise’s caliber — or even Suter alone — the Wings might have celebrated another championship. They made the playoffs in 2013, losing in overtime in Game 7 in the second round to eventual Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. From there they went into a decline, losing in the first round in 2014, 2015 and 2016, when the playoff streak ended.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.