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Updated: July 4th, 2012 10:32am
Double major: Wild land Zach Parise, Ryan Suter on long-term megadeals

Double major: Wild land Zach Parise, Ryan Suter on long-term megadeals

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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Zach Parise considered all of the factors, like money, Stanley Cup prospects and where he'd want to live and raise a family. In the end, he chose friendship and the comforts of home.

On a steamy Independence Day morning, Parise and Ryan Suter -- the NHL's two most coveted free agents -- made calls to their former bosses in New Jersey and Nashville, respectively, then sent signed contracts to Minnesota, a place they both know very well.

"At the end of the day, I thought it would be great to play at home," said Parise, the newest member of the Minnesota Wild. He got immediate agreement from Suter, who's wife is originally from Bloomington.

"A big part of everything is my family," Suter said in a conference call with the national media. "I always thought about Minnesota, it just never seemed realistic."

According to the Wild's official web site, the team has agreed to terms on 13-year megacontracts with Parise, a forward, and Suter, a defenseman. The matching deals are reportedly worth $98 million each.

The Wild has been in hot pursuit of both players, offering huge contracts and hoping the opportunity for the friends and former Team USA teammates to play together would help lure them to Xcel Energy Center. They said that in addition to listening to team representatives and their agents, they'd stayed in contact with each other throughout the free agency negotiations, and had talked for years about the prospect of playing together in the NHL.

Suter was also pursued by Detroit and Nashville, where he had played since making his NHL debut in 2005. The Wild and Red Wings both sent executives to meet with Suter on Tuesday at his Wisconsin home. On Wednesday morning, Suter phoned Nashville general manager David Poile to deliver the bad news, and called it, "the toughest phone call I've ever had to make in my life."

The Parise race was believed to include the Wild, Chicago, Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which reportedly was out of the race by Wednesday morning. He returned home to the Twin Cities on Tuesday.

"It came down to New Jersey and Minnesota," Parise said. "I'm a loyal person, and I loved playing there. But it came down to the opportunity to come home and be around family."

Suter grew up in Madison and is the son of Bob Suter, a member of the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic team. Parise grew up in Bloomington and is the son of Minnesota North Stars standout forward J.P. Parise.

Suter has been a stalwart on the Predators' blue line, helping them to the second round of the playoffs the past two seasons. Parise helped the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, where they fell to the Kings in six games.

It was reported over the winter by Sports Illustrated that the pair had talked about signing with the same team. Parise is expected to wear #11 with the Wild, while Suter may wear #20. Parise has worn #9 his entire pro career, but said that sweater was given to him in New Jersey and he has no ties to the number.

Parise spent the opening day of free agency in Toronto with his agents fielding offers, then flew to his home in Minnesota on Tuesday to make a decision. He said after the call with reporters he was turning off his phone and joining thousands of other Minnesotans in a popular hot day activity.

"I'll be going right in the lake," Parise said.

-- with reporting by Jess Myers

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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