Found January 06, 2013 on Fox Sports North:
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Before everyone settled in for their fireworks on the Fourth of July, the Minnesota Wild put on quite a show themselves. Eschewing patience and pragmatism for go-for-it-all aggressiveness, Wild owner Craig Leipold shelled out 198 million for free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to get the State of Hockey all amped up for the coming season. The season, it turns out, almost didn't come. And now the team that arguably lost more momentum during the NHL lockout than any other is eager to get to work at recapturing it. The NHL and the players' association reached accord on a new collective bargaining agreement Sunday, the 113th day of the lockout. After lawyers from both sides put the finishing touches on the contract and it is ratified, the players will commence with a training camp and get ready for the games to begin. "Everyone in our organization, the players, the fans were really excited in the summer," goalie Niklas Backstrom said in a phone interview Sunday night. "This lockout hurts everyone. Everything was going our way in the summer with the moves we were making. It's something we can't really do anything about. It's in the past. We have to get ready and get back on the ice and start playing." The three months of missed games and darkened Xcel Energy Center put further strain on St. Paul bars and restaurants that rely on Wild games for revenue. Dozens of establishments laid off workers and slashed budgets to try to stay afloat while the owners and players haggled over their CBA for the third time in the last 20 years. "The lockout has had a dramatic impact on our business," Joe Kasel and Kevin Geisen, co-owners of Eagle Street Bar and Grille directly across from the Wild's arena, said in a joint statement. "We took the difficult, yet appropriate, measures to ensure our business's survival through this difficult time. Our staff and our customers are like family to us, we can't wait to have our hockey family back." Laurie Malmgren, manager of St. Paul sushi restaurant Sakura, said the lack of hockey downtown has been devastating to her business. "This New Year's Eve was probably the worst one we've had in 15 years," said Malmgren, who usually counts on it as one of the big nights of the year thanks to the Wild's tradition of playing a home game that day. Last year the Wild got off to a 20-7-3 start under first-year head coach Mike Yeo, only to collapse in the second half of the season and miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year. With fan interest finally starting to wane, Leipold opened his wallet to show them he was serious about putting a contender on the ice. He was celebrated for his boldness, then cursed through the lockout by fans who were fed up with the labor disputes in their favorite sport. Backstrom knows the players and league are going to have their work cut out for them when they do return as they try to repair the relationship with the fans once again. "I know they're mad," Backstrom said. "It's something that shouldn't have happened. In 20 years we've lost probably two seasons if you count all the games. They should be mad. It's not enough for us to say we're sorry. There's a lot of things we have to do to make it right. We have to go out there and play good hockey and worry about the product. We have to do our job to repair the damage. I hope at some point the fans can forgive us and be there for us. "At the end of the day you need players and you need fans. I hope we have them there behind us like they were before. Time will tell."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Parise, Suter don Wild sweaters for first time

ST. PAUL, Minn. It was an odd sight, seeing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in green Minnesota Wild practice sweaters Monday. Something about it didn't look right, as if the NHL lockout dashed any hope that those two would play for their new team this season. One day after the NHL and the players' associated reached an agreement to end the 113-day lockout, members of the Wild...

Parise and Suter hit the ice for Wild

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are finally going to work for the Minnesota Wild. The two big free-agent signings pulled on Wild sweaters for the first time on Monday during an informal practice with 16 of their new teammates. Parise and Suter signed matching 13-year, $98 million deals in July only to have to sit on the sideline during the NHL lockout. The owners and players came to...

Wild players excited to get back to work

ST. PAUL, Minn. For the past several months, members of the Minnesota Wild spent time skating together at various rinks around the Twin Cities to stay in shape during the NHL lockout. On Monday, the Wild finally were able to get back onto the ice at Xcel Energy Center and skate as a team, not as a collection of locked-out players. There was no hiding their excitement, either. ...

Wild eager to return from NHL lockout

No team lost more momentum during the NHL's long lockout than the Minnesota Wild. Now that it's over, they're eager to get to work getting it back. The NHL and the players' association reached accord on a new collective bargaining agreement Sunday, the 113th day of the lockout. The Wild were the biggest buyers in free agency last summer, spending nearly $200 million...

Brad Ratgen: We Got 'Em, But Does It Even Matter Now?

I realized on Friday that we are just 6 months away from the 4th of July. Remember last year's 4th? Oh yeah, how could I forget: the Minnesota Wild signed the top 2 free agents on the UFA market, Parise and Suter. Boy, that was a great day for Minnesota hockey fans. Season tickets selling like hot cakes, renewed interest in our struggling franchise both locally and league...

Schedule increases importance of every game

ST. PAUL, Minn. Through the first 30 games of the 2011-12 NHL season, the Minnesota Wild had sprinted to a league-best 20-7-3 record. But during the remainder of last year's 82-game schedule, the Wild faded after their hot start and missed out on the playoffs entirely. If that fast start were to be duplicated during the upcoming lockout-shortened season, Minnesota would likely...

The 48 game schedule breakdown

As the release of the official schedule for this shortened season grows near, we are almost assured of a 48 game season composed entirely of intra-conference play. The East will play the East, and the West will play the West. Bob McKenzie noted how the schedule will likely break down: Each team plays: 4 games vs. two Divisional opponents (8); 5 games vs. two divisional opponents...
Wild News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.