Minnesota Wild Drop 100 Megaton Bomb On The Planet Of Hockey! & Andy Griffith R.I.P.

Marc Elliott

LARSMONT…. I have to tell you folks, it is Monday morning, a full 8 days after the free agent signing period began in the NHL, and 5 days after the Minnesota Wild got their men, that’s right, that’s men as in plural, both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are now on the roster of the Wild. I am elated and I am still kind of in a state of disbelief. So much so that I probably am not allowing an hour to go by without getting online and reading some more stories about the coup staged by the local club.
This news has literally rocked the entire hockey world. There is no market here in North America that is not absolutely buzzing about it. And for long suffering hockey fans here in the State of Hockey? Well, I have heard stories of grown men breaking into tears upon hearing the news of the Wilds windfall. I can commiserate. Out of the Minnesota NorthStars 26 season tenure here, they only had 8 winning regular seasons. The N-Stars did make the Cup finals twice though, unfortunately losing out both times. The Wild have put up 8 winning regular season records in their 11 season existence, but have missed the playoffs the past 4 years. They have made the post season tourney 3 times going to the Conference Finals once and bowing out in the first round the other 2 times.
And we are just not used to high profile free agents saying yes to us. Our teams have either not been in the free agent game or the potential heroes to be didn’t want to come here. Lets face it, we are more conditioned to our stars leaving here. So starting last Sunday morning I began watching the free agency signing period unfold. This is somewhat unusual for me. I haven’t traditionally been a guy who pores over the entry draft or free agent pool, I mean, I am aware of what’s going on with it, but not quite fanatical. I save fanatical for the preseason to Cup hoist.
I’ve got to say though that ever since the former Versus channel started televising the first round of the entry draft, I’m there. And this year with the Wild’s stated intentions of pursuing Parise and Suter, this saga has had my rapt attention. Free agent Sunday? I didn’t think anything would happen and nothing did. Monday? Still nothing, but a lot of  hopeful thinking. Tuesday? A little bit of info trickle, but not much. Some calls here, a plane spotted there, but still nothing. Wednesday the 4th? Well, we weren’t going to have to wait until dark for fireworks. It had been considered that through a process of elimination that a short list had been developed and that the Wild were on it. Jubilation and anxiety were pulsing by that point.
Blogs and bulletin boards were going crazy. By 11AM it had been posted that Suter had accepted an offer from the Wild. I was in a state of numbness, I just couldn’t react and I don’t even know why. By noon it was being reported that Parise had accepted an offer from the team too. I was going nuts. This was too much. I touched base with my nephew in Phoenix and he said that TSN Canada was reporting this. I still couldn’t quite grab a hold of it.
Finally I tuned into satellite radio’s XM Home Ice channel and sure enough the entire channel was lit up with the news. Then it hit me. Lets just say that for the next 2 to 3 minutes I was unleashing a lot of energy. And honestly, the money and term, while substantial, is meaningless. This had to happen and it had to happen for a lot of reasons. These signings, over some big time competition I might add, have immediately changed the face of this franchise.
Are the Wild instant Cup contenders now? Well, no, they aren’t. They still have to shore up the remainder of their backline to get to that point. They will contend for a playoff spot though and I would have to believe they have enough talent on board to get one. And if you get in anything can happen. The 91’ NorthStars have proven that and so did the 2012 Devils, Parise’s last home. This is a coup on so many fronts that I’ll be breaking it down right up until training camp starts in September. It just might take that long….
 I WAS 6 YEARS OLD in 1960 when the first season of the Andy Griffith Show hit the airwaves. It was such an instant hit with viewers across the country that you would never miss a weeks new episode. There were many things about the show that endeared it to it’s fans. It featured home spun non-profane country humor played by actors that everyone could relate to. I want to think that is because we all knew someone from somewhere that was just like the characters on the show. Every actor on the cast over the course of it’s eight season run seemed to be born for their role on the show.
Tuesday night at midnight I was waiting for a popular overnight radio show to come on and I heard the tone for the top of the hour and then the news started. The next thing I heard were the opening notes for the shows theme song, that whistling solo so loved by so many. My heart sank, I froze and looked at the radio and shouted, don’t say it! Don’t say it! Please don’t say it! The newscaster didn’t have to complete the story, I already knew what he was going to say. Andy Griffith had passed away at the age of 86.
I’m not an old timer by any stretch, but I’ll guarantee you that there are few if any people my age who didn’t see an episode or 30 of The Andy Griffith Show back in the day. And I’ll guarantee you that the show put a smile on your face at one point or another. The reruns still stand up today, they are still funny. Certainly humor has changed over the years. What is considered funny today might not stand the test of time and probably would be too crude for yesteryears audiences. So be it. If you can’t relax, sit back and laugh at the exploding goat episode, or Barney Fife, Gomer and Goober and crew, you have my sympathy. You were simply born too late to see one of the greatest shows in the history of TV. R.I.P. Andy, I’m more then sure I could never thank you enough for all of the entertainment over the years. Our heads are bowed for you old friend… PEACE
Marc Elliott is a free lance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.