With the recent news of Zach Parise getting back on the ice, our very own Stefen Rosner caught up with some of Zach’s teammates to talk about what it meant to have him on the ice and in the locker room.
Only five Islanders played all 82 games last season. Among them: Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Scott Mayfield, Ryan Pulock and lastly, Zach Parise.
Parise signed a one-year, league minimum contract with the Islanders last off-season, with most folks drawing him into the Islanders lineup as a regular, but not nearly a difference-maker. He played every game as a 38-year-old, though, with a motor and skating ability parallel to a 20-year-old.
Bo Horvat talked about his work ethic; “he just never stopped moving his feet and it was just incredible to watch.” Dobson said the same thing about his effort, this time pointing out Parise’s shot-blocking ability, saying “it was crazy. Each game I feel like he was just eating pucks.” Parise was arguably the Islanders most consistent skater last year, putting up 21 goals and 13 assists while averaging 16 minutes of ice time a night.
The Islanders third line of Parise, JG Pageau and Hudson Fasching came together like magic, and was the Islanders best line on plenty of occasions. The emergence of Fasching, along with the intangibles of Pageau and veteran goal-scoring touch of Parise proved to be a large part of the Islanders resurgence after the 2023 trade deadline.
Parise is no stranger to the spotlight, with 429 goals and 450 assists in 1224 games played. He was the New Jersey Devils star before signing a whopping 13-year, $98 million contract with his hometown Minnesota Wild in 2012. The Wild bought him and defenseman Ryan Suter out in the summer of 2021. Parise landed with Islanders, and the rest is history.
“He’s just solid all the time. You know, just funny, solid, works hard. He’s just the epitome of a good teammate.” -Mat Barzal on Zach Parise
As a kid from Warroad, Minnesota who played hockey at the University of North Dakota, Brock Nelson grew up idolizing Zach Parise. When Parise signed with the Islanders, Nelson could have easily been overwhelmed or starstruck by a childhood hero suddenly being in the same locker room as him. Instead, it made Nelson really appreciate who Parise is as a player and a person on a much deeper level. “I think that’s part of what makes [Parise] so special. He doesn’t make you feel like you’re intimidated or anything. I think he’s open and welcoming and wants to help.” Nelson continued, echoing similar sentiments among the other Islanders about Parise’s unmatched motivation. “For a guy that was 37, 38 [years old] here, he was still trying to work on his game and get better each and every day…I can hop on board with that and he pulled guys along.”
Parise made an impact on all the Islanders, whether they grew up watching him or only spent half a season with him. Bo Horvat, who was teammates with Parise for around 50 games, had this to say about him: “It was a pleasure to play with him. I’m glad I got the opportunity. And, you know, I know he hasn’t officially announced his retirement yet so hopefully we’ll see him back here.”
The Islanders and their fans are all hoping for that same thing, but with Parise at home in Minnesota as the 2023-24 season begins, the Islanders have to make do without him for the time being. As he contemplates a return, it will be Fasching, Oliver Wahlstrom, Simon Holmstrom and Julien Gauthier that try and fill his shoes on the wing. Parise brings so much, on and off the ice (Mat Barzal called him “the epitome of a good teammate”), so his presence will most certainly be felt. How the Islanders respond in the meantime, that’s what matters the most.