Given the opportunity, fans of the New York Islanders would likely try to persuade Zach Parise to return to the team for a third season on Long Island, but that's not what his teammates are doing.
If you thought players like Brock Nelson and Anders Lee were sending Parise the occasional text or checking in occasionally to find out which way he's leaning, you'd be wrong. "I haven't pushed Zach at all; just let him take his time," Nelson said Wednesday to NHL.com while playing in Da Beauty League in Minnesota. "I think a guy with that kind of resume, you kind of just let him do his thing."
Parise had everyone's respect before he took the ice for the Islanders. In the 16 seasons before signing with the team, he earned a reputation as one of the game's best leaders and hardest workers. Those types of intangibles have been on display the last two seasons as his time with the team rekindled his love for the game and the joy he found on the ice.
"It's really special to play with a guy like that. He's had such a successful career and you know, at his age, just to see what he's doing out on the ice is extremely impressive. And you can't find a better guy in the room."- Anders Lee to NHL.com
After being bought out by his hometown Minnesota Wild, Parise was looking for an opportunity to show that he still had a lot of good hockey left in him. He joined the Islanders motivated to prove that to himself and those who doubted him. He's done that and more. At age 38, he scored 21 goals last season and played in all 82 games for the second-consecutive year. He was named the winner of the Bob Nystrom Award for the second straight year, recognizing his leadership, hustle, and dedication.
GM Lou Lamoriello has made it clear that there is a spot for him on this roster if he should return. It's Parise's decision to make as he weighs another season trying to chase a Stanley Cup with spending more time with his family, who have remained in Minnesota.
“Of course, it’s going through my mind, but I haven’t decided anything,” Parise said back on May 1st about possible retirement. “I’ll take a couple weeks and get away from stuff for a little bit and just see where it’s at. But I haven’t decided anything yet.”
He still hasn't decided, but Zach Parise is worth the wait.