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NY Post
New York Post
25 Mar 2023

NextImg:Islanders’ Zach Parise following dad’s footsteps in the twilight of his career

Zach Parise hasn’t sat down and watched a full game of his father’s.

Not start to finish.

But every so often, bits and pieces filter through.

The old highlights come across his computer screen and he’ll feel something.

“It’s great,” Parise said Friday night. “To see him play, not only with the Islanders, but seeing those Team Canada highlights [in the 1972 Summit Series], it makes you proud. He had an awesome career in the NHL. Just like any kid, I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

The close relationship between Zach and J.P. Parise is well-documented, forming the backdrop of Zach’s 18-year NHL career — particularly during his time with Minnesota, where he grew up and where his dad played nine of his 14 seasons in the league.

In that sense, Friday night was another link in a chain that keeps getting longer.

Like his dad, who died in 2015, Zach went from Minnesota to Long Island in the twilight of his career.

Parise has had a resurgence with the Islanders by scoring 20 goals this season.
Michelle Farsi for the NY Post

Zach’s first Islanders goal came on Dec. 11, 2021 — which would have been J.P.’s 80th birthday.

And on Friday,  Zach’s first period goal trickled through Michael Hutchinson for his 20th tally of the season.

It marked just the fourth time in NHL history that a father-son combination have each scored 20 goals for the same franchise.

“With how influential he was on my life and my career, it means a lot,” Parise said following the Islanders’ 5-4 overtime loss Friday at Columbus. “It’s special to share something like that with him. And I know that he had a lot of success playing on the Island and loved it. I’ve been loving it, too. To share something like that with him is special.”

This season, Parise is the third-leading goal-scorer on the Islanders, and has played a pivotal role in their playoff chase.

And he has done that as a 38-year-old, openly contemplating what his future will be after the season: whether to come back for another season or return home to Minneapolis with his wife and kids.

“Twenty’s a good number to hit,” said Parise, the only player in franchise history to reach 20 goals at age 38 or older. “I’ve been fortunate to find some good chemistry with guys up front here. And right now our line’s playing well. We’re playing well defensively, we’re chipping in on the offense. Our chemistry’s getting better and better.”

During his last season with the Wild, in 2020-21, it looked as though Parise was hitting the end of the line. Instead, he has found a renewal of his hockey life with the Islanders: 15 goals last season, 20 and counting this season.

If this ends up being his last ride, he’s making the most of it.

“He’s just kinda the consummate teammate,” Hudson Fasching said. “You watch him, whenever anyone scores a goal or something, he’s excited just as hard for anybody and for somebody else to be doing something well. He’s just such a great guy and such a good teammate.”

J.P. Parise #12 of the New York Islanders skates on the ice during an NHL game in December, 1978 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

The elder Parise also played with the Islanders during his career.
B Bennett/Getty Images

J.P. Parise was an Islander for only two full seasons and parts of two more, but he left a lasting impact on the franchise.

Prior to Bob Nystrom’s overtime goal against the Flyers in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final, Parise scored what was the biggest goal in Islanders history, an overtime winner to clinch the first round of the 1975 playoffs against the Rangers.

Zach Parise, when his career ends, will be remembered more for his time with the Devils and Wild, than his stint with the Islanders. 

But he’s making an impact in his second season on the Island that will be felt for a long time.

“You see it in his game on the ice and the way he works on the ice, he never quits,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. “That’s the attitude he has all of his career and that’s why he’s been so successful. … He’s just amazing. Amazing person, amazing player, we’re lucky to have him.”

Just like his dad.