BRAD SCHLOSSMAN: Wild fans embrace Parise
ST. PAUL -- Marian Gaborik is the only superstar the Minnesota Wild
have ever had on its roster.
Yet because of his constant injuries and his apparent lack of interest
in playing for the organization, fans never were able to fully embrace Gaborik.
The enigmatic right winger from Slovakia ditched the Wild for the New
York Rangers three-and-a-half years ago, and it's clear that fans in
St. Paul don't miss him. That's because the Wild introduced a new
superstar this weekend -- and this one has been much easier for fans to
Former UND standout Zach Parise made his Minnesota debut with games on
Saturday and Sunday in the Xcel Energy Center, leading his team to a
On Sunday, Parise scored the only goal of the game to give the Wild a
1-0 victory over the Dallas Stars. He has three points in two games
since signing his 13-year, $98 million deal in the offseason.
"Even if somebody else scored that goal tonight," Minnesota coach Mike
Yeo said, "we're still getting great return on that investment.
What can you say? The work ethic is unbelievable. It's so many things.
We're putting those guys (Parise's line) against their top offensive
line. They got the one goal. That's the great thing about lines like
that. If they don't score, they're still really good."
There are many factors that make Parise easy for fans to love.
First off, he's a native Minnesotan. Born in the Twin Cities, the left
winger played down the road at Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep School.
Then, he played college hockey in front of many Wild fans while at UND
and in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Unlike Gaborik, who didn't want to play for the Wild, Parise chose to
return home during the offseason, despite the fact that other teams
reportedly offered more money.
Fans also enjoy players who aren't afraid to mix it up or get their
nose dirty and Parise's game is anything but perimeter. Parise, who
scored his goal on a one-timer from the point, said as much after
"I usually don't score goals like that from that far out," he admitted.
Parise's goals usually come from the top of the crease, where he had
two Grade A chances later in the game.
He's also a reliable defensive player. Parise played more on the
penalty kill than any other Wild forward on Sunday night. He led Wild
forwards with three blocked shots and he even threw two hits.
He received a huge ovation when he was announced as the game's No. 2
star. When asked after the game whether he ever plays 90 percent,
Parise answered: "I've played in this league long enough to know what
works for me . . . When I'm not moving my feet, I don't play as well.
I've learned that's the way I have to play."
And that's why Wild fans finally have a superstar they can fully embrace.
Brad Elliot Schlossman is a sports writer and has a column for the Grand Forks Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org