They signed to skate this season and for the next 12 with the Wild, but Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are inextricably linked to the Red Wings transition from perennial contenders over the past two decades to whatever the future holds.

They were a fond hope for Wings fans during the summer of 2012, when Nicklas Lidstrom retired and ended an era. But those grand expectations emerged only as fantasy.

The numbers might have worked, somehow, for the resourceful Red Wings brass. Even with salary caps of $70.2 million for this season and $64.3 million for next, there might have been a way to squeeze Parise and Suter in there, despite the cap hits of $7.54 million each on their $98 million deals.

That possibility increased, albeit seven months after they signed with the Wild, when the new collective bargaining agreement included a provision for two compensatory buyouts of existing contracts.

But, as it turned out, it was never about the money, if only because Parise and Suter were always going to get huge deals from someone.

It all turned on things like sentiment, going home and lifestyle.

When asked hypothetically if the two buyouts would have made the Red Wings more driven to sign the gold dust twins, Ken Holland was matter-of-fact on Thursday, a day before the Wild visit Joe Louis Arena.

"We would not have done anything different," said Holland, the Red Wings general manager who faces one of his toughest seasons and residual questions about the two big stars.

Once Parise decided, for reasons of pure sentiment, he would return to Minnesota, where he grew up, where his father J.P. Parise played for the North Stars from 1967-75 and where his family still lives, the Red Wings were dealt out of the game.

And to hear people close to the deal talk about it privately now, Parise made his move early, without a lot of thought to playing in Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago or in any of the dozen or so other towns where NHL clubs were preparing significant offers.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130125/SPORTS0103/301250343#ixzz2J0Bd70RA