Bill Guerin Chose Cap Hell Over “Uncoachable” Ryan Suter and Zach Parise

AP Photo: Jim Mone

On July 4, 2012, the Minnesota Wild signed both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year contracts by the Minnesota Wild. Back then, owner Craig Leipold envisioned a star pairing who could lead his declining NHL franchise to a Stanley Cup.

But nine years later, with no cups or deep playoff runs to show for the investment, Parise and Suter have been bought out by new general manager, Bill Guerin. Now that they’ve been dismissed, reality of their locker room “leadership” is coming to light.

Trouble in frozen paradise?

According to Judd Zulgad (SKOR North), who’s a credentialed media member with the Wild and longtime sports reporter in Minnesota, Suter was once called “uncoachable” during an altercation with a past head coach. Judd also claims that Ryan’s (too) close relationship with Craig Leipold has caused major tension throughout the organization.

While on the Mackey and Judd Show Friday (14:35 mark), insider Darren Wolfson pushed back a bit on what Judd said about Parise and Suter being locker room headaches, pointing to all of the teams lining up for Ryan Suter now that he’s an unrestricted free agent. Doogie did admit, however, that “maybe I’ve heard some of that buzz too”, regarding Suter being un-coachable..

Those two aren’t the only plugged in sports people in town pulling the curtain back on Suter and Parise’s negative impact on the Wild locker room. Long-time reporters and insiders across platforms are dropping nuggets of reality. Some are more discrete than others. Jim Souhan (Star Tribune), for example, released a scathing column a couple of days after the former franchise saviors were bought out. His discretion level was pretty low.

Here is some of what he wrote.

What happened with Parise and Suter is commonplace in professional team sports.

When they performed like stars, the Diva Duo was tolerated.

When they declined, they became competing migraine headaches.

We knew from the team’s handling of Parise last season that he might be out. The surprise is the departure of Suter. Even solid play, remarkable durability and kissing up to owner Craig Leipold couldn’t save him.

Let this be a lesson to all those ambitious young hockey players in Minnesota: Your career will last longer if you’re good in the room.

In their first few years with the Wild, Parise was known for asking for the team to practice in Minneapolis, closer to his home, which drove the coaching staff crazy, and Suter was known for lobbying Leipold, a move that would backfire in any company.

Former Wild coach Bruce Boudreau would roll his eyes and mutter when reporters relayed Parise’s latest complaint.

What Guerin did Tuesday was remove the two primary obstacles to locker room harmony. The players on your team don’t have to all love each other, but they can’t be worried about someone running to the owner to complain about playing time.

Jim Souhan – Star Tribune

Cap Hell > Locker Room Hell

Bill Guerin will pay Zach Parise and Ryan Suter a total of $15 million in cap space for both the 2023 and 2024 seasons, plus another $12+ million in 2022, to play somewhere else. That’s approximately 15-20% of the Minnesota Wild’s total cap just to make two dudes leave. Nobody said divorces were cheap but that’s desperation of another level.

The cap squeeze will make it difficult for the new Wild GM to fill out his roster, during those seasons, with anything but young and unproven talent. Unless something was seriously wrong off the ice, keeping Suter and Parise on roster, even if increasing in age and declining in skill, would have been the easy and much smarter play. But clearly, something was wrong.

Your favorite hockey reporters and insiders have relationships to protect. Clearly, Ryan and Zach still hold a lot of power in this area and, consequently, I don’t know how much more of these stories will leak out. The space might be safer when the two unrestricted free agents sign elsewhere. We’ll see what “intestinal fortitude” is shown at that point.

Either way, logic tells us the truth. Guerin chose massive cap penalties and unproven talent over Zach Parise and Ryan Suter infecting their locker room, going forward.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan