Pari-se It Ain’t So: A Belated Farewell from a New Jersey Devils Fan

Zach Parise signed with the Minnesota Wild. The New Jersey Devils lost their captain to free agency. What do we do now?

Zach Parise was once the only sports jersey I owned that wasn’t in jest. I have a fake Tony Romo jersey after he captained my fantasy football team to a second place finish freshman year. I also have a Michael Vick Falcons jersey that I got from the Salvation Army before he rejuvenated his career and stopped murdering puppies. Now I have a useless Zach Parise Devils jersey and I’m not sure what to do with it. Does it become a duct tape Travis Zajac #19? Maybe it’s something I wear every so often during role play sex with fans of his all-American jaw line and “I just don’t care, okay I care a little bit” hair.

The fact is I’m heartbroken and confused.

Why would Lou Lamoriello name Parise captain of the New Jersey Devils after signing just a one-year deal? I thought that was proof he would come back. Why would Zach leave after saying winning was all that important to him, even after the Devils delivered an appearance in the Stanley Cup? I thought that playoff run saved us. How will my Devils replace his grit, determination, and effort each night? I don’t think we can.

I don’t care about replacing Parise’s offensive production. To me, 60-some-odd points a season isn’t important. Alexander Semin, or some other loosely effective offensive weapon, would certainly be able to mirror that kind of scoring production. My issue is the void Parise’s personality and leadership left now that he’s in Minnesota. Ilya Kovalchuk is a leader by example, Patrik Elias hates being captain and doesn’t exactly relish the spotlight, and Marty Brodeur has been around forever but doesn’t strike me as the gel behind the clubhouse. Finding someone to lead the New Jersey Devils is the issue moving forward, not finding another scorer. Then again, if he’d rather be home with Mom and Dad after coming so close to the ultimate NHL goal, maybe he’s not the leader we thought he was.

I don’t think Parise is worth the cap hit that Minnesota gave him. I’m sad to see him go, but sort of happy that my franchise isn’t tied to two players for the next ten years. With financial issues, we might be better off without Parise. The guy tied the Olympics against Canada, but did he win it? No. In fact, he’s never won anything. Good riddance, right?

Okay, I’m sorry, I’m just hurt. Parise once waved to me outside of the Prudential Center, flashing that “everything is going to be okay” smile. I felt whole for the first time in my life. Now I feel empty.

Beyond my disappointment and tied to my hockey sadness, with a bitter hint of betrayal, lie semi-rational thoughts about the future of my team. We have cap space to make a big play on a star player going forward. The New Jersey Devils will sort out their ownership issues in the near future. The team is deep and talented, and when he’s on (and healthy) Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the best finishers in hockey, slowly learning to be a two-way player. Pete DeBoer came into his own during this postseason run and I slowly stopped hating him. We beat the Rangers to get to the Stanley Cup. Adam Henrique is a monster.

There’s life after Zach Parise, I just didn’t want to think about it. I was hoping his pretend-Italian last name would lead to a bigger sense of loyalty, but this isn’t as crushing as I thought it might be. He was my favorite player, but hey, now I get to pick a new one.

Mark Donatiello
Follow me on Twitter:  @FasterHockey more


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