Wild’s signings of Parise, Suter remindful of Green Bay’s courting of Reggie White

The incredible signings made by the Minnesota Wild in reeling in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter is quite remindful of the spring of 1993, when the Green Bay Packers went against all odds to reel in one of the best defensive ends of all time, Reggie White.
The Wild is hoping it can be as successful with its commitment to Parise and Suter as the Packers were to White, who led them to a Super Bowl championship.
What White did immediately upon his signing, and what Parise and Suter have done with the Wild, is to bring their franchises instant respectability. Before the Packers signed White, they were one of the most woeful franchises in the National Football League. Green Bay was a destination no player wanted. Then White signed and players began to find out that living in the Midwest isn’t all bad.
White bragged about the loyalty of the fans. Media members respected an athlete’s right to privacy. Athletes in cities like New York and Philadelphia never got that respect. They are hounded everywhere they go and questioned about everything they do.
You can bet the Midwest quality of living had more than a little impact on the decisions by Parise and Suter. Parise’s dad, J.P., was one of the early marquee players for the Minnesota North Stars. Suter played at the University of Wisconsin. His father, Bob, played on the 1980 Olympic gold medal team and he’s remained heavily involved in Wisconsin hockey.
Another of the Wild’s signings has local ties. Jake Dowell played two years at Eau Claire Memorial before joining the USA U-18 team and eventually the Wisconsin Badgers.
With all of the players in the NHL from Minnesota and Wisconsin, don’t be surprised if this is a pipeline the Wild try to develop to continue upgrading its roster. Just like the Miami Heat can be a destination that some basketball players can’t resist, the Wild can make the Twin Cities that sort of drawing card to hockey players.
Considering all the money being offered to pro sports free agents, it is surprising that playing near their homes, and the people they are comfortable with, isn’t more of a determining factor in their decisions. With each passing year, it sounds like more players are factoring family into their final decision.