When the Los Angeles Kings raised the Stanley Cup on Monday night ending hockey’s playoffs, that ushered in the beginning of the NHL’s unofficial third season: disinformation.
During winter’s trade deadline, plenty of wheels spin, but it’s nothing like the three weeks in June prior to the official start of free agency. It may be the only time of year where there’s fire and smoke at the same time, yet neither actually exist. Players claim they don’t want to sign in a certain destination, then agents immediatly deny those rumors. Other players say one place is their dream team, yet sign somewhere else completely. Several teams, said to be in on the chase, never actually pursue who they’re rumored to be after.
It’s the reason fans, media members, other players and even Ken Holland shouldn’t get worked up by every tiny bit of news they read these next few weeks, especially as it concerns potential Detroit Red Wings’ targets Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Here’s one thing that can be said with certainty: 30 teams would love to add either player, and most, if they had the finantial means, would love to add both. In the end, as always, it’s the money that does the talking in this dance, and those who have it will do all the speaking.
Recall, if you will, the summer of 2009. Holland worked tirelessly to try and sign his own free agent, Marian Hossa, to a long term deal. Both parties said all the right things, including Hossa, who repeatedly claimed he’d love to return to Detroit. Many sources even maintained a deal had been agreed upon in principle. Strangely to some, nothing ended up happening prior to July 1. Hossa hit free agency, cashed in and fled for Chicago, one of the Red Wings’ major rivals.
Forgive me, then, for refusing to believe that Suter “reportedly” didn’t want to play in the Eastern Conference, or for the Philadelphia Flyers. As of today, that rumor was apparently shot down by his agent Neil Sheehy. Also, forgive me if I don’t believe Suter’s re-signing talks with Nashville have been going well. The handwriting has been on the wall for a while; regardless of what’s said or rumored, Suter’s likely enticed by hitting open market and the Red Wings will be in play if that happens. That includes if his rights are traded elsewhere before or during next weekend’s NHL draft.
Parise, on the other hand, is a touger nut to crack. Earlier this week, he claimed he's not considering playing for the New York Rangers. Given he captained the arch rival New Jersey Devils, that seems believable. Parise's character is vastly different, but did Hossa bat an eyelash over singing with Pittsburgh's "rival" Red Wings in the summer of 2008, or Detroit's rival Chicago in the summer of 2009? For a baseball feel, how about Johnny Damon, who once sported a thick beard with the Boston Red Sox while denouncing the New York Yankees, only to shave it and sign with them in the offseason. Strange and impossible things often happen when lots of money is involved, so nothing should ever be considered impossible or surprising. Parise also maintains he'd like to re-sign in New Jersey, but that revelation came two days after losing a hard fought series. Will he still feel that way in another two weeks, especially as financial realities hit?
Regardless of what is written, said in backchannels, or rumored for all other teams, the Red Wings will likely be heavily involved with both Suter and Parise regardless, so resist the urge to get worked up prior to 12 a.m. on July 1 after every bit of news you read, good or bad. When the appropriate time comes, feel free to commence with panic or excitement about what you hear. Unless both players stunningly re-sign in their current cities, Detroit has the money, the means and the motivation to woo each free agent talent to town.
Now, it's just a matter of wading through the conjecture and waiting out the facts. It's the media's job to report every last thing, but this time of year especially, readers must always have a keen eye to see through their particular hockey rumors du-jour.