The Minnesota Wild shocked the world when they pulled off the dual-signings of top free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Both players were speculated about for months leading up to the end of the season, with a plethora of teams reportedly showing interest in the clear top-two free agents. At the last minute, it was reported that the two free agents would like to play for the same team, and then the Wild came out on top.
On Monday, the Wild introduced Parise and Suter to the press, with both players sporting jerseys with an "A" on them. That stands for "Alternate," as both players will be alternate captains for the team in 2012-13. Pro Hockey Talk had a quote from head coach Mike Yeo about the honor:
"[You don't make] the type of commitment for these types of players unless you bring in two quality human beings," Yeo said. "What they do on the ice speaks for itself, but what they will add to our group from a leadership and character standpoint - they're going to play a huge role for us, and we're expecting them to be leaders for a long time."
That's high praise for these guys, who certainly haven't had a chance to spend a large amount of time with the guys in the locker room. Being named a captain or alternate captain in hockey is always a big deal, and with matching 13-year contracts, these two guys will have a chance to be long-time leaders for the Wild. Mikko Koivu is the captain going forward, but Parise and Suter are leap-frogging Dany Heatley and Matt Cullen for the alternate spots.