Friday, July 6, 2012

Parise and Suter Reunited with the Wild

Who says (former) North Dakota Fighting Sioux and Wisconsin Badgers can't get along?

NHL stars Zach Parise, who skated two seasons for the Sioux, and Ryan Suter, who manned the Badger blue line for one year, and were teammates for the U.S. at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, were reunited again on Independence Day. The highly-sought-after free-agent pair signed separate 13-year, $98 million pacts with the Minnesota Wild on July 4, and will both be leaving the only NHL clubs they have known since entering the league in 2005-06.

Parise, 27, a 5'11, 185-lb. Minneapolis native and the son of a former Minnesota North Star in J.P. Parise, led the New Jersey Devils to the 2012 Eastern Conference championship as captain this spring. He tallied 194 goals and 216 assists for 410 points in 502 career NHL regular-season games, all with the Devils.

In 61 career Stanley Cup Playoff outings with New Jersey, the left-shooting center registered 21-22--43 points, including eight goals and 15 points in 24 games this year as the Devils ultimately fell in six games in the final to the Los Angeles Kings.

"The opportunity to play at home meant a lot to me, and my family," said Parise at "Every kid that's growing up in Minnesota would love to play with the Wild. Now, I'm lucky we were able to make that happen."

Suter, 27 from Madison, Wis., has recorded 38-200--238 points in 542 regular-season NHL outings, all with the Nashville Predators. The 6'1, 195-lb. left-shooting defenseman added 4-9--13 points in 39 postseason appearances.   

"The fact that Minnesota has a lot of good young players, I think will help make this team successful," said Suter, also at the Wild's web site.

The only college season they faced one another was 2003-04, when Suter posted 3-16--19 points for Wisconsin, and Parise collected 23-32--55 points for the WCHA regular-season champion Sioux, as both teams fell in the regionals of the NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin to Maine and North Dakota to Denver.

Further mirroring each other's career, both players spent the 2004-05 NHL lockout in the American Hockey League, Parise with Albany and Suter with Milwaukee, and then were both members of the silver medal-winning U.S squad in Vancouver two years ago. They were earlier teammates at the 2004 World Junior Championships, where they helped the U.S to its first-ever gold medal in that event.

Now they'll again get to share the same stage, this time in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, as they attempt to return the Wild to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007-08. Minnesota will also visit New Jersey on Nov. 11, and Nashville on Dec. 1 and March 9, in what are likely to be less-than-warm welcomes for the two respective transplants.

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