Everyone wants Zach Parise back as a member of the New York Islanders.
The fans want him back, the coaches want him back, and his teammates do as well. But does the 38-year-old, after playing 82 games and scoring 21 goals in his 18th NHL season, want to play next season? That he's not sure yet, but he has decided that it's with the Islanders or nowhere.
Parise reportedly sat quietly at his locker for some time following the Islanders Game 6 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes that ended their season, likely recognizing the possibility that it was the last time he would be wearing an NHL uniform in an NHL dressing room.
The decision to return is Parise's as he weighs a choice between one more year in the NHL to chase that elusive Stanley Cup and retiring to spend more time with his family that remains back in Minnesota. Parise has three children, twins, a boy and a girl that are nine, and another five-year-old son. Having the best of both an NHL lifestyle and being a Dad was doable when he played with the Minnesota Wild, but has been more difficult in his two seasons with the Islanders, seasons that have revitalized him professionally and have been among enjoyable in his career.
“They’re busy right now,” Parise said earlier in the season, according to the NY Post. “They got a lot of stuff going on. It’s just a bummer missing out on a lot of that.”
Provided Parise makes the decision to return to the Islanders, it's expected that it will be on the same team-friendly financial terms that he's played under the last two seasons. Parise had made the league minimum of 750K annually due to the fact that he is still being paid by the Minnesota Wild after his contract was bought out after the 2021-22 season.
While there was once uncertainly as to how much Parise had left in the tank, he has now played 164 consecutive games for the Islanders and became the first 38-year-old in team history to score 20 goals in a season. He was also the team's nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy.