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Devils Q&A with Zach Parise

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Zach Parise led the Devils last season with 82 points (38g, 44a).
A true competitor, Zach Parise swings for the fences no matter which sport he’s playing. And proving he's more than just a rink rat, the Devils' All-Star left wing slugged two pitches off the wall at Target Field on Wednesday, when he took batting practice with the Minnesota Twins.

“It was unbelievable,” said Parise, who was joined by a group that included his brother Jordan, Islanders forward Kyle Okposo, and Sabres forward Drew Stafford. “It was great and that new stadium is sick. Really cool, we had a good time.”

Back from the ballpark, Parise took the time to answer the fans for our second installment of Devils Q&A. Questions ranged from his offseason training regimen to the impact that his father – former NHLer J.P. Parise – has had on his hockey career.

With all the new additions that management has made this season, are you more excited for this season, and are expectations high?
Sparta, N.J.

ZP: I think everybody’s expectations are high with some of the guys we’ve got. We improved our team and everybody’s looking forward to coming back and starting again. That’s quite a few postseasons in a row that we’ve been pretty disappointing, so we’re all looking forward, and we’re excited to get back and start playing again.

How will the team adjust and mesh for the upcoming season?
Williamstown, N.J.

ZP: I guess, like you do every season, you have guys that you’re familiar with and new guys that you’ve inserted into different roles. You have Jason Arnott and the new defensemen, Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov, but it’s just like every season, you have to mesh. You don’t have a choice if you want to do well. But we’ve never really had a problem with meshing as a team. We’ve always had good guys off the ice, so that’s never been a problem.

What type of workouts or training do you do during the summer to prepare for the upcoming season?
Toms River, N.J.

ZP: I got a new trainer this year and we do a lot of different things. We lift weights Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Tuesday, Thursday we do all speed, agility and conditioning. This year it’s been a lot different because I’ve done more conditioning than I’ve ever done, so it’s a different type of workout. But it’s been fun, it’s been really good and I’m kind of anxious to see how it’ll translate over to the ice.

Parise (r.) and Jamie Langenbrunner (15) celebrate the tying goal.
What was going through your mind when you scored the game-tying goal in the gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver?
Ancaster, Ontario

It was just one of those things that you can’t believe happened. Your instincts take over and you forget, almost like you blackout, I guess. I’ve seen it on film and there’s certain things you remember when you’re playing, but after it went in, I think I was just too excited and too happy that I don’t remember what exactly was going through my mind. Certainly excited that we had a chance to win a gold medal after that goal. 

Who do you admire in today's NHL?
Long Branch, N.J.

Sidney Crosby’s tough not to admire. I think he’s a great player, and he’s consistent. He’s always on top of the scoring list, and he’s always getting the tightest checking. There’s not a lot of room for him out there, but he always seems to end up on the scoresheet making plays and helping his team win.

In what ways has your dad's NHL success influenced and shaped you as a hockey player?
Livingston, N.J.

You learn from him what it takes to get there, and how hard it is not only to get there, but stay there and be productive. When you have someone that did it and went through it all, he’s able to tell you what to expect and help you through when times get times get tough. Having been there, he’s able to make sure you don’t get too worked up. He’s able to teach you things that you can’t learn everywhere. My dad always said to me he knows when I know I’ve played a bad game, and he knows that I don’t want to hear about playing a bad game because I know it. I think sometimes you run across where parents kind of give it to their kids if they don’t play very well. I don’t think that’s a productive way to do it. It burns the kids out and they don’t enjoy it anymore.

If you could play hockey with or against any retired hockey player, who would it be and why?
Syosset, N.Y.

I’d like to play with or against my dad; I think that’d be pretty fun. I love the way Joe Sakic played. From what I hear he was an unbelievable leader and just a great player and a great person. I think he would be my choice.

How did your time in Albany (AHL) help your game in the NHL?
Schenectady, N.Y.

I would say you learn the tough schedule, the 80 games, and the competition’s obviously better than at the college level. When I was there [2004-05] most teams had three, four NHL regulars because of the lockout so it made the league a little bit better.

What is your favorite memory of being in Grand Forks and playing at the University of North Dakota?
Grand Forks, N.D.

Playing in that building [Ralph Engelstad Arena] is pretty awesome. It’s a great building to play in. Number one would be when we won the [2004 WCHA] championship at home, so it was pretty cool skating around with the rink with the MacNaughton Cup when we won it. But then, we ended up playing in Minneapolis at the XCel Center in the Final Five championship and I think there were 21,000 people there when we played against the University of Minnesota. The college atmosphere is crazy. The crowd and everything is so much fun. We ended up losing 5-4, but it was an unbelievable game to play in. 

Last season, when you scored the spin-o-rama goal against the Blue Jackets, were you planning on doing something like that or did it just happen?
Carteret, N.J.

It just happens. There’s times in games where you don’t have time to think, you don’t have time to analyze anything. It just happened to work out like that. The pass came kind of behind me, so I had to spin to get it and I figured that [Steve] Mason would be thinking that I was just going to take a quick backhand. I held on to it for a second longer. That’s all just reaction and instincts.

Did you think, 'Wow this is gonna be on the highlight reel for sure?'

All the guys were saying it was. I was pretty excited about it because I don’t always get the opportunity to get the pretty goals very often.

How do you have such an explosive backhand shot? Tips? Pointers?
Little Ferry, N.J.

I just practice it. I would say it’s just quick. I’m able to lift it quickly. It probably wouldn’t break wet toilet paper but it’s quick and it can get up under the crossbar quickly.

What was your favorite team as a kid?
Ajax, Ontario

The North Stars. I didn’t really have a favorite team after they moved. I always loved the North Stars and it was tough to switch. It took me a couple years, but once I got over that, I really liked Colorado.

Favorite North Star?

ZP: Either Mike Modano or Neal Broten [former Devil and 1995 Stanley Cup champion]. Either one of those guys; they were awesome to watch.

What is your favorite TV show?
Short Hills, N.J.

It was Lost until that ended. They did a good job of making you want to watch it the next week or next episode. It was just entertaining. By the last couple of seasons there were so many questions that you wanted answered that you had to keep watching. It was something you looked forward to watching. The finale was amazing... and confusing. I’m still not sure what happened [laughs], but it was crazy, I thought. I just started watching the first few episodes of Rescue Me and I like that a lot, so I’m going to keep watching that one.

Who is your favorite cartoon character?
Somerset, N.J.

Randy Marsh from South Park, I think he’s hilarious.

Travis Zajac
Who is the funniest Devil in the locker room?

Andy Greene is really funny… I think Travis Zajac is funny, but I think I’m one of the few guys that hears him talk. I’d say those two guys. 

What is your favorite food?

I eat so much pasta it’s amazing that I don’t get sick of it. But my favorite is probably tacos, chicken tacos. It’s amazing, with the ground chicken, sour cream and peppers. It’s awesome.

If we put your iPod on shuffle, what would we find ourselves listening to?
Dumont, N.J.

You’d find everything right now: I’ve got Pearl Jam, Eminem, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Metallica. I think George Strait is my favorite; I don’t think I ever get sick of listening to him. “Troubadour” is great, “Run” is unbelievable.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Princeton, N.J.

Probably that I’ve bungee jumped before. I was visiting a buddy of mine in Colorado, I don’t know how many years ago, I had to be around 12 – I was really young. I’m terrified of heights, but we went bungee jumping. I do not like flying, either.  

What drives you to just skate so hard whether you are on the puck or not?
Manalapan, N.J.

I enjoy doing it. I find that that’s the way I need to play and what I need to do to score and be effective on the ice. Different guys have different niches, and I feel that’s mine and that’s when I’m productive, when I’m skating.

Keep visiting the Devils official site this summer for more Q&A sessions with your favorite players!

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