Zach Parise Is Hoping To Follow In His Father’s Islanders Footsteps

(Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire)

The Islanders played their first game in the National Hockey League on October 7th, 1972, but make no mistake about it…the Islanders arrived on April 11th, 1975 when they eliminated the Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs.  J.P. Parise scored the game and series winning overtime 11 seconds into overtime to give the Islanders a 4-3 win in the third and deciding game of the best of three series.

For Parise, it was the defining moment of his Islanders career as he was traded prior to the start of the Islanders’ Stanley Cup dynasty.

“He talked about (the goal) a lot believe it or not,” said his son Zach Parise on a Zoom meeting with reporters on Friday to officially announce that he was joining the Islanders.

“That was a big part of his career that time out there.  For a while, he had the quickest OT goal in the playoffs and he loved to brag about that.  That was a proud moment for him being a part of that team and those teams out there and being able to score that goal to eliminate the Rangers.”

ST. PAUL, MN – APRIL 07: Minnesota Wild Left Wing Zach Parise (11) follows the play during an NHL game between the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche on April 7, 2021, at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN. (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

It’s been reported that Zach Parise agreed to his deal with the Islanders some time ago following his release by the Minnesota Wild.   The 37-year-old left wing finally arrives on Long Island after almost being an Islander on two previous occasions.  There were some trade discussions between the Islanders and Wild a couple of seasons ago but they broke down.  Also, the Islanders passed on Parise with the 15th pick of the 2003 NHL Draft opting to take forward Robert Nilsson instead.

Two picks later, the Devils selected Parise with the 17th overall selection.

“I forgot about the draft thing,” said Parise.

Lou Lamoriello was the Devils’ General Manager at the time and now he’s in charge of the Islanders so it seemed as if it would be inevitable that they would be reunited at some point.  Lamoriello has not been shy about bringing former Devils to the Islanders and now Parise joins the likes of Andy Greene and Kyle Palmieri on the current Islanders roster.  It’s also been reported that the Islanders will likely bring back Travis Zajac after he was acquired by the Islanders with Palmieri from the Devils just before the trading deadline this past season.

For Parise, joining the Islanders seemed like a no-brainer.

ST. PAUL, MN – JANUARY 31: Minnesota Wild Left Wing Zach Parise (11) donning the Wild’s alternative 3rd uniform warms up before an NHL game between the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche on January 31, 2021, at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

“With almost having gone there a couple of years ago and just been watching the team from afar and knowing Lou for a long time, I thought that it would be a good fit,” said Parise who has 393 goals and 417 assists for 810 points in 1,060 career NHL regular season games.

Parise is excited about joining an Islanders team that is a Stanley Cup contender having reached the NHL’s final four the last two seasons.  He is also familiar with Long Island from talking with his dad about his time with the Islanders.

J.P. Parise passed away in 2015 as a result of lung cancer, but he is certainly looking down and smiling as his son Zach is going to be putting on an Islanders sweater.

“My dad loved his time out there,” said Parise.  “He played for some great teams and just missed that dynasty when they won the four cups.  I know my mom was excited about it from her spending time out there too.  It just felt like for me it would be a good fit but there is that connection with my dad.”

Parise’s dad was dealt to the Cleveland Barons during the 1977-78 season in a trade that brought Wayne Merrick, a member of all four Islanders Stanley Cup teams, to Long Island.  The Barons wound up merging with the Minnesota North Stars so Parise returned to the franchise where he started his NHL career.  He made not have won a Stanley Cup ring, but he provided the first magical moment in Islanders post-season history with that overtime goal against the Rangers.

GLENDALE, AZ – APRIL 19: Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) warms up before the NHL hockey game between the Minnesota Wild and the Arizona Coyotes on April 19, 2021 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire)

Zach was more than happy and proud to hear from Islanders alumni just how much is father meant to the Islanders franchise.

“When we (Devils and Wild) would go play the Islanders, sometimes Bob Nystrom would be outside after the game,” said Parise.  “Our family had stayed with him out on Long Island a long time ago.  When Denis Potvin was calling our games, I would chat with him as well.  They always spoke really highly of my dad.  For the longest time we had in my basement some pictures of him scoring that goal.”

And now after a difficult ending to his time in Minnesota, Parise appears to be re-energized after joining the Islanders and he’s hoping to help the Islanders get over the hump and bring the Stanley Cup back to Long Island.

His father delivered the goal that put the Islanders on the NHL map and now he’s going to try and be a piece of the current Islanders puzzle.

“I’ve always said (my father) loved his time out there and was able to make an impact,” said Parise.  “I’m looking forward to doing the same type of thing.”

And as far as having a chip on his shoulder after getting bought out by the Wild?

“I know personally that I still have a lot of good hockey left in me,” said Parise.

If that turns out to be true, that’s great news for the Islanders.   Zach Parise could have been an Islander 18 years ago and then he almost was traded to the Isles a couple of seasons ago.  But he’s here now and his last name is magical when it comes to Islanders history.

Like father like son…but Zach is looking to honor his father by bringing a Stanley Cup ring to the Parise family.


About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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