Lou Nanne told Sports Headliners the Wild’s acquisition of free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last week will likely make the team “12 to 15 points better” next season.
The Wild had 81 points last season and missed the playoffs. An additional dozen or more points would have pushed the club ahead of teams who qualified.
“Each player is in the top 10 in the league,” said Nanne, the former Minnesota North Stars player and executive. “Suter played more minutes than any player in the league last year. Parise is the hardest worker in the league.”
The Wild will introduce Parise and Suter, both 27, at a news conference today. Parise, a forward, accounted for 69 points last season playing for New Jersey. He scored 30 or more goals in five of the last six seasons and brings badly needed offense to the Wild. Suter, a defenseman, had career highs in points, 46, and power play points, 25, last season with Nashville. He was third among defensemen in power play points and 10th in scoring.
Nanne said no NHL team has ever executed a one-two signing at the same time with so much star power as the Wild accomplished last week. The signings set off euphoria among hard core fans and excited casual followers of a franchise that has seen season ticket sales decline.
But not now with fans buying over 1,500 new full season tickets and Nanne predicting the Wild could approach sellouts for every game next season gate receipts, corporate revenues and TV ratings will be headed upward. “This is a move (signing Parise and Suter) they needed to make,” Nanne said.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is 71 but team president Chris Wright told Sports Headliners he doesn’t believe the Mankato billionaire is aggressively shopping the team. However, Wright believes Taylor is “willing to entertain people who might want to have this franchise long term.”
The priority consideration, Wright said, is keeping the team in Minneapolis. “The Minnesota Lynx and Minnesota Timberwolves are Glen Taylor’s legacy in this market,” Wright said. “Over a longer period of time he wants to make sure that it’s in place. …”
The Wolves, 26-40 last season, haven’t finished over .500 since 2005 when the club was 44-38. Wright said there’s a “real drive in the organization” to win next season. “The goal is absolutely to make the playoffs next year,” he said.
Taylor has owned the team since 1995 and wants to win an NBA championship after seeing his 2011 Lynx become WNBA champs. Admired coach Rick Adelman is 66 and has never coached an NBA champion. Adelman impressed in his first season here during 2011-2012 and so, too, did young stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
“The great thing is that they (Rubio and Love) really like each other,” Wright said. “They work hard with each other. They’re the backbone of our franchise right now.”
Love is an ESPY candidate for “Best NBA Player.” Fans can vote online until 10:59 p.m. tonight Minneapolis time. www.espn.com/espys
Joe Mauer’s grandfather Jake and about 20 other relatives and friends were scheduled to board a bus this morning at Mauer Chevrolet in Inver Grove Heights and ride to Kansas City for tomorrow night’s All-Star game. The Twins catcher will be a reserve for the American League all-stars.
Jake told Sports Headliners his grandson will pay for the bus and take care of the group’s lodging in Kansas City. The group buses home on Wednesday.
The Vikings have a database of 18,000 email contacts used for advocating support to build the new downtown football stadium approved this spring. The Vikings will use their contact list in the fall prior to November elections for House and Senate seats in the state legislature, reminding stadium supporters who did and didn’t vote for the new facility expected to open in 2016.
Steve LaCroix, the Vikings vice president of sales and marketing, has an unusual challenge in the years ahead. Because the Vikings aren’t expected to occupy their new stadium for four more years, the club will play all or part of future seasons at not only Mall of America Field but also TCF Bank Stadium. That’s a lot of variables involving individuals and corporate partners LaCroix and staff will sort through.
Vikings cornerback Marcus Sherels, 5-10, has struggled to gain weight during his football career including with the Gophers. He was up to 177 pounds late last month, according to his brother Mike who will help coach the Gophers linebackers next season.
Jim Marshall, the retired Gophers athletic trainer, turned 82 last Tuesday. For many years Marshall assisted legendary Gophers trainer Lloyd “Snapper” Stein who retired in 1975. On this date 37 years ago Minnesota governor Wendell Anderson declared Lloyd “Snapper” Stein Day in the state. (Source: June 1975 University of Minnesota Alumni News).