So by now, I assume everyone is aware that both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have signed with the Minnesota Wild. It sucks, but they both signed deals roughly $7 million north of what we were willing to offer. I'm not necessarily mad that we lost out on them, especially knowing that both Holland and Ilitch would have to swallow the extra cap/salary respectively, but I will not deny that I am upset.
I am upset that we lost out on the coveted free agents. Upset that... well, what the fuck do we do now? We have no elite defender, our backup plan for a top 6 forward is a more consistent version of Johan Franzen or a player that many would consider very non-Wing-ish. Yes, non-Wing-ish. But most of all, I am upset with the way we, you, me, the Detroit media, this site, Red Wings fans everywhere, handled this all.
Before I go any further, I want to point out that I am as guilty of this as anyone. I have been at the forefront, at least on Winging It In Motown, of this push to land a top tier free agent. Nearly three years ago, I pegged Shea Weber as my ideal Red Wing and that idea spread like wild fire through the ranks and soon we were foaming at the mouth for him. After last summer and seeing Weber getting that massive deal in arbitration, I switched sights to his linemate, Ryan Suter. Again, that idea spread like wildfire. And while my third target, Alexander Semin, wasn't as well-accepted by the masses, it still added fuel to the flames.
So, with that said, on to business. We have behaved like Flyers and Blues fans during the last few weeks. Everyone foaming at the mouth for Suter and Parise. We were not alone in that regard; no, Wild fans, Penguins fans, Flyers fans, hell, half the league was crazy about getting these two and I don't think anyone can blame them. We, however, have acted like impatient children waiting for their parents to say they can have a sleep over with a friend for the very first time.
For the last week, there have been reports upon reports, comments upon comments, tweets upon thousands of tweets regarding these two. It was what you would expect. But as things go closer to July 1st, steam picked up. Every time a new team entered the fray, we immediately pounced on their reporters and their fans as if they were the enemy here when they weren't. They were in the same boat as us, waiting to hear "YES!" for that super special first sleepover. Every time a new report was released saying they were leaning towards any option besides Detroit, we immediately tried to discredit them. I am as guilty of this as JJ or George Malik (Malik) or Ansar Khan or any other of the dozens of Red Wings bloggers and writers out there.
Then the worst happened — absolutely freaking nothing. July 1st came and went and we had nothing other than a report saying Suter had chosen Detroit from a reporter who later reported a half dozen other teams had been chosen (can someone take away that guy's badge please?). And, as soon as Suter's agent let everyone know that no response was coming, the anger rose. Why is he waiting? He should have decided today. What's Plan B? Who does he think he is? We were rabid.
Then another day went by without a response. Well, other than that Parise and Suter would wait another day. And then yesterday came and... suddenly there was a gleam of possibility in the sky reflecting off the side of one of Ilitch's planes. Once again, we were foaming at the mouth. All of a sudden, our once-classy media, bloggers, and fans were little better than Hollywood paparazzi. Spy photos from the runway of our delegation leaving their car and entering the plane. Really? People wondering what Suter was doing. Where he was. Why he hadn't made a statement yet.
And then today, judgement day, came. This morning, I saw what was left of the class we once celebrated by commenting on our non-existent monocles leave this great hockey nation. This morning, reading comments and tweets, I saw that we were now blaming Parise and Suter for making us wait on them. That it was their fault that things were not panning out the way we wanted. I saw people claiming that these two weren't making 'hockey decisions,' they were making personal ones and that they were, essentially, bad people for it.
That honestly angered me. They were deciding where they would spend the next decades of their lives living and working. That is a personal decision. I don't care how upset, anxious, what-have-you you are, that does not make them bad people. Their lives come first, not hockey.
As fans, I think we forget that these people are not members of our team. Or opponents. Or enemies. They're people and the decision they make is going to affect them far more than it will ever affect the Red Wings or any other team in the league or you.
Honestly, I think we should be championing these two. They did this right. They weighed each option as if their life depended on it and, in the end, chose what was best for them. We were spurned. Yes, we were. And we will feel it for seasons to come. But, in the end, these two are not the ones who should feel ashamed by this decision, it is us. You, me, the dozens of writers out there that helped fuel these flames. We lost our class throughout all of this, and, in my eyes at any rate, it will take a long time to recover from it. But I look forward to it. I look forward to helping urge our great team back to greatness and us along with it.
(I want to note that I am indeed very upset, so some of this may sound like a raving lunatic and I apologize for and accept any raving lunatic comments you may make.)