J.P. Parise dies at 73, leaves remarkable hockey legacy

J.P. Parise dies at 73, leaves remarkable hockey legacy

Jean-Paul “J.P.” Parise was an NHL player for 890 games with five different teams. He was a standout for his country in Canada’s 1972 Summit Series win over the Soviets. He was the director of one of the most prestigious hockey schools in the world.

For Minnesota Wild star Zach Parise, he was simply “dad.”

J.P. Parise, 73, died on Wednesday night after a year-long battle with lung cancer. Zach Parise had left the Wild to be with his family in his father’s last days.

Parise was born on Dec. 11, 1941 in Smooth Rock Falls, Ontario. He played in Niagara and Kingston during his early 20s before heading to Minnesota to play for the Minneapolis Bruins, a farm team for the Boston Bruins. After two years, he debuted with the NHL club in the 1965-66 season as a 24-year-old winger, playing with them until he was claimed by the California Golden Seals in the 1967 expansion draft.

The Seals dealt him to Toronto in Oct. 1967, but the Maple Leafs flipped him to the Minnesota North Stars two months later in a seven-player deal. It was there that Parise shined: 588 games played with 396 points.

He was a North Star when Parise suited up for Canada in the ’72 Summit Series, and it was a memorable series for him, although at one point quite infamously.

Game 8 of the series, the finale, was marred in controversy, as both the Soviets and Canadians argued over which officiating crew should work the game. Early in the game, Canada was given a couple of questionable minor calls. Then Parise was mistakenly called for interference. And he disagreed with it.

He banged his stick in anger, and was given a misconduct. He then lost his mind, skating over to referee Josef Kompalla with his stick in the air, looking like he was going to decapitate him. He was then given a match penalty.

As he recalled in a NY Times interview: 

Q.There was also a penalty against the Soviets, so the Soviets were skating four on three.

A.So they were regrouping and the one guy went back to his own zone, and I was waiting for him at the blue line and I went out to hit him, and the official, Joe, comes to me and says “2 minutes interference.”I says, “He was carrying the puck.” And he says, “You got 10.”I said, “If I got 10, you better not be calling any more 10s because you’re going to die right here.”

Q.What was that you said?

A.Nothing. [Laughs]

Q.Is that really what you said or thought?

A.Well, he was German, so I don’t know if he understood. I said, “I’m going to kill you” or something like that. Not very nice.

Q.You raised your stick right at his head.

A.Showed tremendous control of my emotions by not dropping my stick. [Laughs.]

It was a turning point in the game as far as the officiating went, and Canada eventually won the game and the series.

His NHL career saw him play for the New York Islanders, the Cleveland Barons and the North Stars again before retiring at 37 in 1979.

His post-playing days saw him become an assistant coach with the North Stars for several season, but more notable was his time as coach and hockey director of Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, Minn., a prestigious hockey school that produced Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and his son Zach, among others.

“He's a great man, and he has such a great attitude,” Crosby said of Parise, via the Tribune Review. “He's always positive, always upbeat.”

J.P. Parise’s legacy lives on in Zach Parise, who learned his father was sick after captaining the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi. They two were close, his father his hockey idol. As the Star Tribune reported, the two spent a lot of time together after Parise signed with the Wild:

In April after Chuck Fletcher found out J.P. was diagnosed with cancer, the Wild general manager gave “Jeep” his own father-son trip. He traveled on the Wild’s charter to games at Arizona, Los Angeles and Chicago.

In Arizona, Zach Parise scored twice, including his 239th goal to pass his father’s career goal total. Afterward, the two took a joyous picture from the bench.

“This might be hard to understand, but because I know he watches every game, from now on it’s just really important for me to play my best with him watching,” Parise said in September. “That sounds weird. I don’t want to say this is motivation. But it puts what’s important and what’s not in perspective and honestly this has changed our lives.

“I can’t wait for the season to start because he loves coming to games so much. Everything about the game, the way I play, he has taught me everything. Every kid’s dad is their role model, but it goes beyond that with him. It’s so much more. The life lessons he taught me have been unbelievable.”

And what a life it was. Condolences to the Parise family on their loss.