When the excitement had passed and the last congratulatory handshake was made, J.P. Parise took his son to dinner Wednesday night in downtown Vancouver.
It was a chance for Team USA forward Zach Parise
, one of the team's stars with 5 points in four games in Vancouver, to finally kick back and talk shop with the man who steered him on the road to becoming an Olympian. And while dad was certainly proud with the way Zach came through with 2 goals in a quarterfinal-round victory over Switzerland, he knew it wasn't something that would dominate their conversation that evening.
"Now's not the time to start coaching, so I just encourage," J.P. Parise told NHL.com. "He's just on top of the world right now and excited about being here. It's amazing because his dream was not to get goals, but to get a gold medal. He's not overwhelmed with the situation here, but he is living a dream. As his father, I just tell him to keep it up; but we rarely go through the details once a game ends."
The elder Parise is in Vancouver, either watching live or sitting in his hotel room scouting the other countries. He's also taken in the ice dancing and claims it's a fascinating event to see live. He is enjoying his time in the Canadian city and is glad to see Team USA performing so well.
"I think the guys are doing everything they can to win the hockey game," he said. "They're blocking and limiting the open shots. The middle part in the defensive zone is covered and most of the shots are coming from the point or along the wall."
He also feels several players have yet to play to their potential in these Games.
"The nice thing, for me, is that I don't think all the American players have reached their peak," Parise said. "There are some players who maybe aren't used to playing in the role they're playing in and are maybe second-guessing themselves. But hopefully, they'll find it over the next few games and say, 'I am a good player no matter what my role.' "
J.P. Parise pointed to defenseman Brian Rafalski and forwards Ryan Kesler, Ryan Callahan and Chris Drury as players who have really been playing to their level and, as a result, have given the United States an added push.
J.P. Parise, who played 14 NHL seasons with Boston, Toronto, Minnesota, the New York Islanders and Cleveland, also has some international experience as a checking specialist for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series. But he realizes "checking specialist" was not the role envisioned for his son at the 2010 Vancouver Games. The younger Parise, who has scored 30 or more goals the last three seasons with the New Jersey Devils, is there as a goal-scorer.
"Zach likes to make contributions and he likes to score goals, as all the good forwards do," he said. "It's kind of the way all good players judge themselves. As long as the team is winning, that's fine. But if the team is struggling, he wants to make sure he's scoring those goals to lead the team to a win. He takes more responsibility for that and fortunately, it turned out (on Wednesday).
Parise's first two goals of the tournament gave Team USA a 2-0 victory over the Swiss.
"Here's the thing, you can talk about being a team guy and all, but at the end of the day, the individual skills have to come through and you can't be dependant on other people all the time," Parise said. "Zach knows the team is depending on him, to a large degree, but there are other guys on this team who have played so well and accepted their role, whether it's scoring goals, setting up goals or blocking shots. I look at this team's penalty-killing with Drury and Callahan and what they go through -- they'll do anything to win hockey games."
Team USA will play 2006 silver medalist Finland on Friday in the semifinals at 3 p.m. ET at Canada Hockey Place. No game is easy, particularly at this stage in the tournament.
"If we're lucky enough, maybe we'll see the Canadians again in the gold-medal game," Parise said. "Team Canada has so much depth and I think, not unlike the American team, some of those guys have accepted their role and they have great players. I think in the first couple of games, I don't know if they were a great team. But after they made those line changes, how could they not eventually hit their stride with that skill.
"The U.S. doesn't have the depth that maybe the Canadian team has, but the guys are playing within their limitations and not making too many mistakes and Ryan Miller is standing tall."Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer