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Both players were regarded as the cream of what was a thin free-agent crop, and each had spent the past four days poring over numerous offers from several teams before making a decision."This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild," general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "We are extremely excited to add the collective skill, experience and character of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to an already promising roster. We view this as a rare opportunity for us to transform our franchise by adding two marquee players, who are both in the prime of their careers." Parise leaves the New Jersey Devils, while Suter leaves the Nashville Predators in joining forces to take their talents far from South Beach, but instead to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Parise, who is from Minneapolis, said he recruited his good friend Suter to join him in Minnesota.
"We kept in touch throughout this whole thing and we decided that we thought for both of us that the best fit would be Minnesota," Parise said in a conference call. "We're excited that it worked out and we get a chance to play with each other.
"My parents were so excited when they knew that I was considering coming back home. When I made the decision they were real excited as well. That played a big part. I grew up here, I love coming back here in the summers, and I thought, 'We enjoy it here so much it would be great to be here year round.'"
And it's a relative homecoming for Suter, who is from Wisconsin, as well.
"It came down to where I felt my family would like to live," Suter said. "My wife's from Bloomington, Minn. That had a lot to do with it. ... Minnesota has a lot of good young players that I think will help make this team successful."
Parise was the best forward on the market. He scored 31 goals and had 69 points last season in his first year as the Devils' captain. He also chipped in with 15 points in helping the team's surprise run to the Stanley Cup finals, which ended in a six-game series loss to Los Angeles.Drafted 17th overall by New Jersey in 2003, the 27-year-old has 194 goals and 216 assists in 503 career games. He scored 30-plus goals five times. Parise said via text that if he had not decided to play in Minnesota that he would've stayed in New Jersey, according to LeBrun. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said the club's offer to keep Parise "was competitive." ""Zach told me this: If it wasn't for going home to Minnesota, he'd be coming to New Jersey," Lamoriello said on a conference call with reporters. "It was one of the toughest decisions he said he had to make. I respect that decision to make. We can't get into minds of people. In my opinion, our organization did whatever it possibly could to retain him and it's a decision he made."
Suter, also 27, was the top defenseman available this summer. He spent all seven of his NHL seasons with the Predators after being selected with the seventh pick in the 2003 draft. The All-Star defenseman had career highs in points last year, with seven goals and 39 assists.
|Zach Parise decided to leave New Jersey to play for his hometown team.|
Parise tried to explain why he needed more than a few days to announce his intentions, saying he was evaluating each team and city that was trying to sign him. The Detroit Red Wings were among the teams to take a run at both players, and were most interested in Suter as a player who could fill in after captain Nicklas Lidstrom retired.