J.P. Parise, the father of Wild star Zach Parise and a former North Stars standout, reached the Stanley Cup playoffs eight times in his 14-year career and knows how excited his son is to be playing in them this year.
Before the Wild’s tense 2-1 win over Colorado in Game 4 of the teams’ first-round series Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center, J.P. talked about watching Zach, who assisted on the game’s first goal for his fifth point in the series.
“Well, it’s so exciting,” he said. “I think he has done well. He came home, he wanted to play here, you know? He had all these things that he put together in terms of the city and the town and the team itself and the ownership and stuff. He thought this is where he wants to make his living, this is where he wants to raise his family. It was one fine deal for him.”
He said he feels no stress when he watches Zach. He attends every home game.
“It is so much fun. It is not tough at all,” he said. “I just like that he competes all the time and he shows up every game. He has shown, I think — he is my son — but I think he has shown tremendous leadership and he has been a good teammate, a good leader for the younger kids. It has been a great, great fit.”
That was the hope J.P. had when his son signed his 13-year, $98 million contract with the Wild in July of 2012.
“It was just the complete package,” he said. “Of course it was [about] hockey, it was a complete win, but he thought that the Wild had a great future. You look at [Mikael] Granlund and some of those young players and the signing of a [Ryan] Suter and all the package together and he said, ‘We have a chance here.’ ”
J.P. was asked his opinion on his son’s play and the Wild’s play this season and so far in the series against the Avalanche.
“I think he has played well,” he said. “They’ve used him properly. It’s not only a one-guy team, it’s a team that they have, not just players. But I think he has played very, very well. You could say that I thought the Wild should have won the first game, but that’s my opinion. The second game it was not so, but certainly the team has not been outplayed in the series, for sure.”
Zach helped the New Jersey Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2011-12 before losing 4-2 to the Los Angeles Kings. Could the Wild accomplish something similar?
“You know, they [could] get on a run,” J.P. said “You look back at the Devils two years ago. That’s how they started and all of a sudden, they went to the finals. So you never know what can happen. If a goaltender gets hot — that’s what happened with the Devils — and things go the right way and you get going, you get on a run.”
J.P. talked about his playoff experience. He played in 86 games with the North Stars and Islanders and scored 58 points, including 27 goals.
“We never won the Stanley Cup,” he said. “We got beat in seven games in the semifinals [with the North Stars in 1967-68 and the Islanders in 1974-75]. Never made the finals. I lost in the semifinals and [Zach] lost in the finals with New Jersey.”
J.P. also had no problem saying he thinks his son is a better player than he was.
“Oh my God, say it!” he said. “You know he has so much skill and the whole thing, the hockey part of it, has all changed. He has all of the stuff that I didn’t have. I was competitive, and he certainly has that, but he has the skill on top of that.”
Competing for recruits
Richard Pitino and the Gophers basketball team received verbal commitments from Zach Lofton, Bakary Konate and Gaston Diedhiou this week.
But Diedhiou and Konate come from schools where teammates also signed with Division I programs. At Diedhiou’s school, the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands in Spain, he had teammates sign with Maryland, Pittsburgh and Louisville. Konate’s school, Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kan., had players sign with Michigan State, Arizona and San Diego. So the question will be: Did Pitino get the best player from either school?
Diedhiou, a 6-9 center, might be a project and not ready to contribute as a freshman. Lofton, a 6-4 guard transfer from Illinois State who was suspended for the final three games of the season for undisclosed reasons, attended St. Bernard’s for two years and then, when the school closed, he transferred to Columbia Heights and became the leading scorer. The 6-11 Konate also had offers from Tulane, Mississippi and Louisville.
All three players have until late May to sign their national letters of intent. None has enrolled at Minnesota as yet.
Meanwhile, Richard Pitino and his wife, Jill, are celebrating the birth of a baby boy named Jack, a new brother for their daughter, Ava.
• Vikings season ticket sales for their first year at TCF Bank Stadium are going well, with just over 70 percent renewed. The Vikings expect that number to reach the low-to-mid 80s. The team also has sold over 1,000 new season ticket packages. … Meanwhile, the TCF Bank Stadium turf is torn up while new turf with heating coils underneath is being installed. The word is the project will be completed by early June so the Vikings will be able to occasionally practice there before the season starts.
• What will retiring Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman’s role be as a team consultant? “We talked a little bit about it,” said Flip Saunders, Wolves president of basketball operations. “One, Rick’s been in the league a long time. He has a great understanding of the players in the league and I think we’ll use him a lot as a sounding board. Whether you talk to him about players, whether you talk to him about when he’s watching games. Just little things he can do to help out our team. I think it’s one of those things that’s going to evolve. Anyone that has the knowledge Rick has, we’re going to utilize him, there’s no question, as much as we can, but still give him the freedom that he wants.”
• Pitcher Reggie Meyer of Totino-Grace signed early with the Gophers baseball team. His older brother, Ben, is a junior pitcher with the Gophers. Their father, Bob Meyer, played for the Gophers in 1982, John Anderson’s first year as head coach.
• One negative about future Gophers hockey schedules is that they won’t play North Dakota for two years.
• Twins pitching prospect Alex Meyer pitched his best game of the year for Class AAA Rochester on Wednesday, striking out 11 batters in 6⅔ innings while allowing only three hits and no runs in a no-decision. Meyer has now allowed two earned runs or fewer in three of his four starts.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com