Mathew Barzal didn't play on the same line often with Zach Parise over the last two New York Islanders seasons, but that didn't prevent him from developing a great appreciation for everything that the 18-year veteran brought to the rink and the dressing room on a nightly basis.
At the Islanders charity golf tournament on Monday, Barzal was asked about the possibility of Parise's returning at some point during the regular season. "Zach had a great season last year, said Barzal. "Besides being a good player, he brings a work ethic off the ice and professionalism every day."
"Zach if you're watching, get back here. We'd love to have him back," Barzal said with a smile.
Last week, General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello announced that while Parise hadn't made the decision to retire, he would not be with the team for training camp. Lamoriello has known Parise for 20 years and reiterated that "the door is always open" when it comes to the two-time Bobby Nystrom Award winner.
Figuring out how to replace Parise's 21 goals, versatility, and intangibles is the job of Lane Lambert. The second-year head coach will look internally for someone to step up and fill the void left on the third line this season.
"Zach is a true professional. It wasn't just his [offensive] production, it was his shot-blocking, his leadership," said Lambert. "Certainly, he'll be missed, but we have players in the organization that will get opportunities, and we're excited about that and looking forward to seeing them."