One of Lake Minnetonka’s newest residents looks like he’ll be around for a while.
Zack Parise, who purchased a multi-million dollar home on the lake earlier this year, signed a monster contract with the Minnesota Wild yesterday that will reportedly pay him $98 million over the next 13 years.
“Every kid that has grown up in Minnesota wants to play for the Wild,” Parise said during a conference call with the nation's sports writers Wednesday afternoon. “That’s the way it is, and I was hoping to have that opportunity. Right now, I’m lucky that we were able to make it happen.”
The Star Tribune broke news of Parise's signing just as many were firing up their grills for Independence Day celebrations, and talk of the Parise signing was a hot topic of conversation around Lake Minnetonka yesterday.
“Playing at home was a very big part of my decision,” Parise said. “The opportunity to play at home meant a lot to me, and it meant a lot to my family. My parents were so excited when they knew I was considering coming back home. I grew up here. I love coming back here in the summers, and I just thought that we enjoy it here so much that it would be great to be here year round.”
Parise, widely believed to be the best offensive free agent talent available this summer, was pursued by several NHL teams. Reports in recent weeks had the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and the New Jersey Devils—who Parise has played the last seven years for and led to the Stanley Cup finals last season—all interested in retaining his services.
In the end, Parise said it came down to New Jersey and Minnesota.
“It’s very hard to leave New Jersey,” Parise said. “It’s a first-class organization. It was very, very hard to leave.”
Parise, who will turn 28 later this month, played hockey for Shattuck-St. Mary's before skating two seasons for the University of North Dakota and was drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft (No. 17 overall). During his seven seasons with New Jersey Parise tallied 194 goals and 216 assists and was named a captain of the 2011-12 squad.
Parise wasn’t the only high-profile signing announced by the Wild yesterday.
Free agent defenseman Ryan Suter, whose wife is from Bloomington, inked an identical deal, and multiple reports before Wednesday’s news indicated the two discussed playing together through text messages and phone calls. Parise validated those reports during Wednesday's conference call.
“Ryan and I had talked throughout the year,” Parise said. “You always say to each other, ‘wouldn’t it be great to play together on the same team.’ I know how great of a player Ryan is—I’ve played with him on several teams. To have the opportunity to play with a guy of that caliber is a great opportunity, and we kept in touch throughout this whole process. We decided that for both of us the best fit would be Minnesota."
While both newly-minted Wild said Minnesota was on their short list of desired teams once they hit the free agent market, Suter said the final decision was made between the night of July 3 and early July 4.
News of the signings sparked a reported 700 new season ticket sales.