Zach Parise has always been highly regarded by followers of hockey. From his early days as a budding superstar in the state of Minnesota to his current status as a model hockey player for the Minnesota Wild, Parise has been consistent and reliable. At the age of 30 with plenty of years remaining in his already fantastic career, there are countless reasons that the Wild’s prized asset will one day be referred to as a Hall of Famer.
Despite Parise not wearing the “C” for the Minnesota Wild (A privilege reserved for Mikko Koivu, who has been with the team through thick and thin), No one on the outside looking in can say that Parise isn’t the undisputed leader of this squad. Prior to signing with the Wild in July of 2012, Parise was an alternate captain for three years and became just the second captain in New Jersey Devils history in 2011. Coincidently, this was also the same year that he led the Devils to an unexpected Stanley Cup run.
In addition to being recognized as a leader on his NHL teams, he has also been a fixture on the United States national teams in the Olympics. In 2010, Parise was named an alternate captain on the USA squad in Vancouver and guided the silver medal run by finishing third in tournament scoring and was named to the Olympic All-Star Team. After growing and maturing even further, Parise was dubbed “Captain America for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
The accolades Parise has already earned would be impressive for an entire career for most players. Considering he has accomplished all of this at the age of 30 is unbelievable.
If I were a parent with a son or daughter aspiring to make a career as a hockey player, the first thing that I would tell them is “play like Zach Parise.”
It doesn’t matter if it is a mid-February game against the Arizona Coyotes (that still sounds weird) in front of a crowd of 10,000 or game 7 of an NHL Playoff series, you’ll never get a night off from Zach Parise. He is constantly all over the puck on the forecheck and is also able to turn around and break up a play in the defensive zone. He’ll block shots, take hits, grind in the corners and muck in front of the net despite often being the smallest player on the ice. His only gear is full throttle. Pair that with his talent and you have the makings of an almost ideal hockey player.
Probably the most important factor in deciding whether a player is Hall of Fame caliber is whether they can create offensively. Zach Parise has been a force since entering the league in 2005 with the Devils. He has produced 241 goals and 263 assists in 617 NHL games. In 79 playoff games, he has contributed 58 points. He plays on the top power play unit, the penalty kill, the top line, he’s on the ice in the closing seconds whether his team is winning or losing, Hell, he’d probably resurface the ice in between periods if you asked him.
Parise has all the skills and all the intangibles to be in the Hall of Fame. Given his high-octane style, there is no reason he can’t be effective into his 40’s. The only knock on Parise is that some say he can’t seal the deal when it comes down to it. No gold medal, no Stanley Cup? I highly doubt we’ll be saying that in ten years when he calls it a career and has his number retired by the Minnesota Wild.