The Minnesota Wild transformed their team as much as anyone in the NHL this summer, splurging on prized free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to surprise the league, revive their frustrated fan base and put themselves in position to become the Stanley Cup contender they've never truly been.
They have sold the equivalent of about 4,000 new season tickets since the day the 13-year, $98 million contracts for Parise and Suter were revealed, signaling the most-anticipated season in the franchise's 12-year history. Thanks to the NHL lockout, the buzz has been put on mute.
''There's so much hype and excitement in Minnesota, and for us, too,'' Suter said. ''It is frustrating, but we want what's best for the players, for every player.''
About a dozen members of the Wild have been gathering almost daily for skills work and pick-up games at the St. Louis Park Rec Center in the Minneapolis suburb, joining other NHL players who live in the Twin Cities area. From Parise to Suter to Mikko Koiv...