First and foremost, my heartfelt condolences to the entire Parise family and all of J.P.’s friends that are hurting today. He’ll be incredibly missed and there will be a void not seeing him around the rink anymore.
Here is J.P.’s obituary on startribune.com/wild, and it’s something we have been updating throughout the day.
In a statement, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “The National Hockey League family mourns the passing and cherishes the memory of J.P. Parise. Especially in his adopted home state of Minnesota, J.P. was a consummate player, teacher and administrator in the game. The Parise name has been prominent in Minnesota hockey since the 1960s, and J.P.'s commitment and passion for the NHL lives on through his son, Zach. The NHL sends heartfelt condolences to J.P.'s family, to his friends, to the Minnesota Wild organization and to all the organizations J.P. represented with such passion.”
The Wild plans to pay a tribute to J.P. tonight before its game against the Chicago Blackhawks. I’ll be on Fox Sports North during the pregame show to talk about J.P. as well.
I’ll also be doing another Podcast at 3 p.m. live on souhanunfiltered.com with columnist Jim Souhan.
I'll provide details of J.P.'s funeral when it's released. I know the Wild would love to have the entire team there like it did for Suter. The team does have a planned day off Monday in Pittsburgh and an off-day next Wednesday in Buffalo.
Wild defenseman Ryan Suter got a text from Zach last night that his dad had passed. Suter was emotional this morning when talking about the loss of J.P. and how it’s affecting Zach.
“It’s a terrible thing to happen to a good person. Us as a team, we feel for Zach,” said Suter, before referring to the loss of his own dad, Bob, in September. “You know how hard it is having to go through that for me, so for us, I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now. He’s a good person and it’s too bad that he’s gone.”
Suter said that a week or two ago, he and Zach talked about how blessed they were that they signed in Minnesota because it allowed them to spend more time with their dads and for their dad to be able to watch them play hockey.
“We actually talked about that probably two weeks ago when he knew his dad wasn’t doing that well,” Suter said. “We said at least the good thing is that we got to be here, just think if we would have signed other places, they wouldn’t have got to come to as many games as they did get a chance to come to. We actually talked about that and looking back that’s the best thing that’s happened to me.”
Suter said it helped him “to get back here with my teammates and not have to think about what had happened. Your family members are all grieving and it’s so sad around your house, so when you come in here, it’s a nice break from that. Hopefully we can get back here soon so we can get some normalcy back.”
Some have speculated that as the day goes on, maybe Parise will want to play tonight. However, he is on non-roster status right now, so if he did want to play, the Wild would have to make a roster move by 4 p.m. The Wild does not anticipate he will play.
Right now they’re at 23 players with the callups of Jon Blum and Jordan Schroeder. John Curry was also recalled and Darcy Kuemper was placed on injured reserve with a lower body injury. Stu Bickel was placed on waivers for the purposes of sending him down to the minors.
More on this in a bit.
Some more reaction to JP:
Coach Mike Yeo talked about the experience of having JP come on his own personal father-son trip last year, something Suter arranged and GM Chuck Fletcher allowed because he had never been on one before. Thank goodness this happened because JP was too sick to go on the Wild’s father-son trip this season.
J.P. was allowed to go into the pregame meetings and the coach’s office as they planned practices, watched video and gameplanned games.
Yeo said J.P. talked about how much the game has changed, but “the camaraderie, the brotherhood,” was the same.
“The one that I remember particular is he was talking about how involved coaching was now and all the things that go into it,” Yeo said. “He was kind of joking how when he was playing, the coach would come in and say, ‘Get ahead, stay ahead and don’t tire.’ (laughing). And at the same time, there’s something great about that simplicity. So we used that line that night in LA and we won that game.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews knew J.P. Parise well from his days at Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Parise was the hockey director there at the time.
Said Toews, “It’s a tough loss for the family that I was a part of as a young kid, the Shattuck-St. Mary’s hockey family, he’s very influential to the young hockey players there and to myself and my family, it made things very easy and very comfortable for myself and my brother when we played hockey there. I think everyone knows his history and the game and what he means to hockey in Minnesota. It’s a tough loss for everybody, and our thoughts and condolences go out to Zach and his family.
“He had so many great stories and one-liners and just advice he’d give to the young guys in high school there. If you were ever going through a tough time or you weren’t playing well or you were having a tough time being away from home, he was always seem to have a way to pick you up. He had an amazing positive effect on myself and a lot of other young hockey players at Shattuck, so it meant a lot to our careers.”
Asked if he sees a lot of J.P. in Zach, Toews said, “The work ethic for sure, the personality, the love of the game, the commitment to being a part of the game and being appreciative of what it gives you. Zach always understood that. J.P. was a very selfless person, and you see that in the way Zach carries himself on and off the ice as a player. I’m sure it’s a tough time for him and his family right now.”
To more trivial things, the hockey team:
Kuemper is indeed hurt. He’s got a lower body injury, Yeo said. “I didn’t think it was much yesterday, but I think it got a little bit worse during practice. We don’t think he’ll be available for the next week or so.”
Yeo indicated it was an injury that was aggravated.
Chuck Fletcher is looking for a goalie in the trade market. Every time I have seen him today, his phone is pressed up against his ear. I wrote about that in today’s paper here and I’ll write more about it in tomorrow’s.
But right now, the cage belongs to Niklas Backstrom.
“Backy typically, the more he’s played the better he’s played,” Yeo said. “And if I know him, then I know that he’s looking at this as an opportunity. Not only for himself, but to help the team here. He’s a veteran guy. I think that composure can bode well for us, but again, as much as anything, I like that he’s going to want this opportunity and I think our guys are going to play hard in front of him.”
Vanek-Haula-Schroeder (reunion of all-Gophers line earlier this year)
D Pairs with Marco Scandella out with what Yeo thinks is a minor upper-body injury (he’s feeling better today):
Schroeder and Blum took a car service up yesterday afternoon, but Curry didn’t get the call til late and arrived at 2:30 a.m.
Blum said, “Right now, it’s not the best of times for this team. I just want to come up here and help this team win and play a simple game. It’s not the best time, but it’s always good to be in the NHL. I’ve played games here, so it’ll be good test with a run of games coming up against good teams.”
Schroeder said he wants to “bring some energy and hopefully a spark, try to be positive with chatter on the bench and make things happen out there.”
Yeo just wants the Wild to calm the heck down and stop being so depressed. He feels a cause of the problems lately is every game “we’re going out there and we’re trying to make the playoffs that game.”
Well, that’s impossible and there’s more than half a season left, he said. So he wants the team to narrow its focus, start concentrating on good starts in games (Blackhawks have given up a lot of early goals lately), carry momentum in games, get it back if they lose it and play complete 60 minutes. If they do that day in and day out, he said, bring the work ethic and a good attitude, that’s how they’ll make the playoffs.
Nate Prosser skated today, but he’s not ready to play, Yeo said.