South Beach isn’t a stop on the NHL circuit, but Florida’s beachside neighborhood has become an integral part of the wilderness tradition.
This is where the team finally signed striker star Kirill Kaprizov on Tuesday with a $ 45 million five-year contract to end a month-long negotiation on the brink of training camp. And it was the face-to-face meeting between Kaprizov, his agent, and CEO Bill Guerin in the sand and surf that Guerin believes helped seal the deal.
“Just hearing it from me, face to face, was really important,” Guerin said Wednesday along with Kaprizov at the team’s headquarters in St. Paul. “Now he’s like, ‘OK. He’s saying this to me, not my agent. This is real.’ But I can also explain to him where I come from, and it is also important for me to understand where he comes from. “
During the contract talks, which began in the spring, Guerin and Kaprizov exchanged messages, but this was the first face-to-face conversation.
The team leaders wanted to sign Kaprizov for seven or eight years, but Kaprizov’s camp was looking for a shorter commitment. The two sides settled in the middle, but the five-year offer that averaged $ 9 million per season had been on the table for about a month.
Then on Monday, Kaprizov’s agent, Paul Theofanous, contacted Guerin and told him it was time for the two sides to meet. Kaprizov and Theofanous were in Florida, taking the Russian to the United States, so he had enough time to quarantine and get vaccinated.
Guerin flew to Florida on Monday night. The three dined together, and then Guerin and Theofanous met for breakfast the next day.
When all three got together later in the afternoon, they came to a resolution.
“Obviously, it was stressful,” Kaprizov said in Russian via a translator. “The whole process has been difficult. After last season, I thought things would be done a little faster. But these things take time. I understand perfectly. I’m really happy to be here now and I can just focus on hockey. .
“Obviously extremely happy to be a part of the Minnesota Wild.”
Guerin, who described Kaprizov as “very involved” in the negotiations, said he was not disappointed with the five-year term and had no grudge that Kaprizov didn’t want to sign any longer. Kaprizov said he loved his time in Minnesota and there was “no chance” he was returning to the KHL.
This contract ended an already significant offseason for the 24-year-old, who will train on Thursday after the players showed up at the pitch for medical examinations and fitness tests on Wednesday.
After leading the team in goals (27) and points (51) last season and breaking Wild Rookie records, Kaprizov was awarded the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie, becoming the first recipient in the team’s history.
“I sit at home with my parents and say, ‘Parents, I won the Calder Trophy,'” said Kaprizov in English. “We cheered. Shared drinks. Drank beer. Nothing more. I’m so happy to be with my family.”
He didn’t practice his English over the summer, but managed to talk to Guerin during the entire 3.5-hour flight from Florida to Minnesota, relying only sparingly on Google Translate.
“When I just arrived in Minnesota, I was here the first two, three months, I don’t speak well,” Kaprizov said in English. “Just a little. Now I understand better and better.”
Kaprizov has already made a beautiful statement on the ice and in Year 2 he will face a new challenge: an entire season against the entire league as a high-profile player with a contract to match.
The left fielder said he feels no pressure and because of his competitiveness and character, Guerin believes Kaprizov will prevail.
“He is a very galvanizing person who brought our team together,” said Guerin, calling Kaprizov that “every penny” of the deal is worth. “Great personality. Always smiling. Always hard at work. He brought the guys together, then he goes out on the ice and performs at such a high level. This is leadership.”
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