Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Parise Predicament

By Jason Klau

When July 1, 2012 comes around, the hockey world will be watching out for one player. 

Zach Parise. 

Since he was drafted 17th overall in 2003, in what was perhaps the best first round of picks in NHL Draft history, Parise has been a part of the Devils organization. On a team that boasts stars like Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias, Parise has brought something special to the Devils franchise since his rookie year in 2005-2006.

With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, Parise, who was declared captain on Oct. 16, 2011, has avoided discussing extensions with the NJ hockey franchise, which is currently dealing with financial crisis and impending bankruptcy issues. And with Kovalchuk locked in to a deal for the rest of his career (10 years, $100M), the Devils will in all likelihood not be able to pay Zach Parise what he is worth (ZP is making $6M this year, a number that will surely rise this offseason), leaving Parise to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Many times, in this sort of situation, there is pressure to trade a player before you lose him for nothing - to at least get some kind of fair value back for the loss of such an impact player. This is the thought process that saw the Atlanta Thrashers move Kovalchuk to New Jersey a couple of years ago.

What makes the Parise predicament different from the Kovalchuk quandary is how the Devils have played this season.

Although sitting fourth in the Atlantic Division, the Devils have managed to claw their way up the conference ranks, exiting the All-Star break with a realistic chance of making the playoffs, locked in a three-way tie in points for 7th place in the East with Florida and Toronto.

It is clearly a tough call. Do you keep Parise for a possible playoff run? Or do you make sure to get assets in return? Well according to sources from the NY Post, General Manager Lou Lamoreillo is telling the league that Parise is not for sale.

As tough as it is to lose a player for nothing, sticking with Parise is the right call.

The Devils are poised to make a run in the playoffs this year. And while they certainly won't be favored to win a cup, stranger things have happened.

The best way to deal with economic strife in sports is to win games. 

If Lou Lamoriello traded Parise, he says to the fans, and to any potential fans they are trying to attract, that the Devils are not interested in winning. That the organization is not truly committed to getting through these tough times, and that the money being spent on tickets is for, well, nothing.

Unless you want to pay $35.00 a night to watch Vinny the Zamboni Jabroni.

Zach Parise has given his heart and soul to the Devils franchise, and it should be recognized. He has not made a public scene about his contract situation and has still played hard every night. He deserves one more shot at the cup with the team that drafted him. Lou Lamoriello is a knowledgeable GM. He has been the architect of one of the most consistently successful hockey teams in the league. Keeping Parise, if only for a half of a season more, is the right call for the New Jersey Devils.

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