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'A' Warm Welcome

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

It has been a whirlwind week for the Wild’s recent free agent signings Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who both inked 13-year deals with Minnesota on the Fourth of July.

Today, the duo was introduced to the State of Hockey during a press conference at Xcel Energy Center and they were surprised to learn they’ve both been named alternate team captains for the Wild.

Parise, who didn’t realize the ‘A’ on his jersey until he was alerted by a media member mid-press conference, was noticeably taken aback by the gesture.

“As you guys could tell with my reaction up there, I didn’t know,” the 27-year-old forward said. “I was surprised just coming to a new team.”

“Hopefully (my new teammates) will be alright with it.”

Since signing their multi-year deals with Minnesota, the pair has been fulfilling endless interview requests from the media, including today’s press conference with more than a few dozen television crews and journalists. But for two Midwesterners, the fanfare surrounding their free agency was out of their control.

“If you would know Ryan and I personally, this whole thing is not us,” Parise said about all of the hoopla and media attention for the two biggest off-season acquisitions in the NHL. “We’re pretty private guys.”

Suter said that he also wasn’t following along with all of the hype surrounding their free agency that had online destinations like Twitter clamoring for any tidbit of information on the pair.

“We tried to stay away from everything as much as possible,” the blueliner said. “We’re hearing more about it now that we’ve signed.

“Throughout the process you’re trying to stay neutral to everything.”

Parise also was able to avoid the hype and didn’t realize how much State of Hockey fans were pining for the return of their native son.

“I was getting some messages from friends who were listening to KFAN,” the winger said. “They were saying it was pretty entertaining, but I didn’t listen to any of that and I was just hearing second hand how it was (in Minnesota).”

Aside from talking to members of the media, the pair has been fielding congratulatory, excited calls and texts from friends and family since signing.

“I got a few texts this morning and I wanted to send back a message that said ‘Congratulations on crawling out from under the rock,” Suter joked.

Friends and family members are not the only ones sending congratulations, as their new teammates also have been sending greetings to the State of Hockey.

“I saw a few of them downstairs, and I got some texts with some of the players on the team now,” Parise said. “I’ve been playing phone tag with Mikko (Koivu) the last couple of days. I think the time change is hurting us right now.”

“They all seem excited,” Parise added. “I think they are excited about what the team is going to look like, along with Ryan and I.”

Since signing, they both said they’ve kept things pretty low key. The recent heat wave tearing through the Midwest has played a role, according to Suter.

“It’s been so hot out you can’t do anything,” the 27-year-old defenseman said. “We came up last night to the Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney concert and that was exciting to see Target Field.”

When it comes down to it, Parise and Suter were brought here to help the Wild win games during the winter, even if their signings has Minnesota hockey mad during the dog days of summer.

“I’m excited to start something new and excited to play with this team here and be a part of (the Wild),” Parise said. “It’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks.”

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