Caught Up in ‘Parise Watch’

Fans patiently await the decision as to what team New Jersey Devils free agent Zach Parise will choose.

Ed Millerby Ed Miller

Just three days into free agency, the rumors and news have surrounded one man.  Forget Ryan Suter and Rick Nash, it’s been all about Zach Parise since free agency began at noon last Sunday.

The 27-year-old New Jersey Devils forward was the crown jewel of most NHL team’s summer wish list but it has become more than that and has taken on a life of its own, earning constant news updates and the title ‘Parise Watch’ – which sounds more fitting for a local 6 o’clock news story.  There’s good reason for the media circus though, since a guy with a résumé like Parise isn’t always easy to find. 

New Jersey is the only place that Parise has called home in his seven-year NHL career.  In 502 games he has earned 410 points and has scored over 30 goals six times.  His best season came in 2008-09 when he scored 45 goals and added 49 assists, finishing fifth in the league in scoring.  Last season, after returning from a torn meniscus, Parise put up just 69 points but was awarded the Devils’ captaincy and was a big presence in the locker room, as he helped lead his team to a Stanley Cup Finals berth.

And we can’t forget his flair for the dramatic against Team Canada at the Vancouver Olympics Gold Medal game, scoring the game-tying goal for Team USA with just 24 seconds left, despite losing in overtime.

It‘s these reasons that have several NHL teams throwing perhaps a little too much money at Parise in the hopes of building their team around him.  In the last 24 hours there have been plenty of developments to the story; in fact he almost took out Twitter in one fell swoop when he announced he would take some time to consider his options.

The finalists in the Parise sweepstakes are believed to be New Jersey, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit, with Parise having his own reasons for joining each team.

New Jersey has been good for Parise – who is a fan favorite – and he might just want to stay to prove he can bring the Cup to Newark, but the team’s potential bankruptcy could scare him.  In the meantime the Devils have done everything possible to entice him, resigning Marty Brodeur and other small role-players.

Minnesota might just make the most sense.  Parise is a Minnesota native and has plenty of family in the area, though he would join a Wild team that is in the process of rebuilding and he would definitely be the center piece.  Let’s not forget, it was less than a month ago when former Minnesota GM Lou Nanne explained in an interview that the Wild will offer the most cash to Parise.

“I can tell you this: No one is going to outbid the Wild,” he told KFAN Sports Radio.  “So if Parise goes somewhere else, you can bet he’s going to take less money.”

Pittsburgh just made plenty of cap space after trading Jordan Staal to Carolina and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to play on a line with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, the latter of which is good friends with Parise and even watched the Stanley Cup Finals from his private luxury box.

Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit are each looking to add a player that could be the final piece in helping earn the Stanley Cup.  The Flyers are rumored to have offered the most money – despite Nanne’s previous comments – to Parise, though their attention should probably be focused on a defenseman like Suter.

So when exactly will Parise Watch come to an end? Hopefully soon, since free agency has come to a halt as guys are waiting to see what Parise – along with Suter – earns before testing their value on the market.  The more he gets the better for other free agents.

On Wednesday, Parise was tracked down at the airport and had this to say to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

"It's a decision my fiancée and I will make together and that plays a lot into it. We just want to go somewhere that we know we're going to be happy.  There's so much more than the money. That plays a very small factor in it.  My agent's did a great job. You take the time to consider everything. You consider where you want to be for the next however long and however many years of your life. It's a harder decision than I thought it was going to be."

See LeBron, not everyone has to make a big production out of free agency!


Ed is the lead hockey writer and a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller, and subscribe on Facebook @ CraveOnlineSports.

Photo Credit: AP