Friday, October 16, 2015

Parise -- Living and honoring his famous father

By Larry Wigge

Hockey-playing fathers have a habit of teaching their sons the right way to play. From the pratfalls of learning to stand up on their feet on skates ... to the glory of playing hockey for real.

Zach was born here in Minneapolis, raised here and makes his offseason home in Orono. He will wear the same jersey number — 11 — that his dad wore as a member of the North Stars.

Zach plays exactly the same way as his dad J.P. did for so many years around the NHL. Just watch him on the ice working on tip-ins, redirects, poke-ins, wrist shots from close in. Parise has spent hundreds of hours before and after practice working on the same things -- the hard-workers guide to playing shinny.

Blood and sweat are the keywords that define Zach Parise's game.

Type Parise into the search engine of your computer and you simply get a hard-working, reliable, two-way player and posted six 30-goal seasons (45 in 2008-09 high) in 10 NHL seasons. But it's more than just statistics that young Parise is noted for. It's the way he plays -- with aggression, style, hard work.

To top things off, the Minneapolis native signed a 13-year, $98 million dollar contract with the Wild as a free agent in June 2012.

"I still play the same way as I was taught by my dad," said Zach Parise.

J.P. Parise retired with 238 goals and 594 points in 890 regular-season games and had 27 goals and 58 points in 86 playoff games.

"He wasn't flashy as a player, he wasn't a superstar, he just played hard every night ... and I think I kind of inherited that trait from him," Zach said.

Zach Parise scored three goals in the third period of the Wild's 5-4 victory in the opener against the Colorado Avalache and he contributed the go-ahead the next game in a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues and he added his fifth goal of the season in his third game, a 4-3 victory over Arizona.

For comparison, Parise had 45 goals in 2008-09 and he had not totaled five goals in seven game -- not just three.

Wild coach Mike Yeo just his his head in talking about his captain.

"That's what we've come to know with Zach," gushed Yeo. "We use the word relentless an awful lot. I think that was a great example of that."

Relentless and tenacious in every thing Parise does on the ice. Remaining determined playing whistle-to-whistle.

Everything he does brings up something J.P. Parise said or did -- because Zach lost his father last January following a year-long battle with cancer. J.P. was 73.

Zach Parise touches a white friendship bracelet on his right wrist. He turns it over and reveals the special inscription: "la vie a ses bons moments."

"It means, 'Life has its good moments,' " Parise says, staring intently at the words.

When Zach left the University of North Dakota to begin his pro career, J.P. had some simple words of wisdom for son.

"One of the things you can always control is to be one of the hardest-working players on the team," said Parise.

Zach is a coach's player. He's someone you love to coach because, every day, he does what's asked of him. He leaves it all out there. He works his tail off game in, game out, practice in, practice out. He's the first on the ice, the last one off.

Zach led the Wild to the second round of the playoffs last spring, adding four goals in 10 games, after knocking in 33 goals and 29 assists in the regular season.

"His game is courage," said Ilya Kovalchuk, who starred with Parise on the New Jersey Devils. "He's got a great shot, but he's always in those spots where you score the goals. He was our leader all the way."

Take it from Peter DeBoer, who know coaches the Vancouver Canucks but previously was behind the bench with the Devils when Parise was there.

"He was the heartbeat of our team," DeBoer gushed. "He set the tone for us. He leads and everyone follows. When your captain is your hardest-working player, he drags people with him and it's a great situation to be in as a coach."

Parise is a graduate of the famous Shattuck St. Mary's program in Minnesota and two years at North Dakota before he was chosen with the 17th overall selection in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

"Year by year, I think I'm a little more patient with the puck," he said. "I think I'm making better decisions, and that goes with being more comfortable. Your first couple of years, you don't want to make mistakes, but then you get more comfortable, want to try different things, different moves."

Now, you clearly get the picture of this left winger who is more than just a run-of-the-mill player.

He's showing you he's got a real hunger and drive for the net. He doesn't appear to be a really big guy yet he goes to the net as hard as any forward I know in the game. He's got great hands.

Parise says patience with the puck and maturity have come along with experience -- not to mention the five goal in three games.

Said David Conte, the vice-president of hockey relations with the Devils: "With Zach, what you see today is what you always see -- 100 percent tenacity with an exceptional skill level. That's a tough combination not to succeed with."

You see, Zach Parise is a chip off the old block in every way.

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