He got his wish when he inked a one-year deal on July 2, returning to the team that launched his career.
“It went so well my first two years there, and I never really wanted to leave, to be honest with you, but it’s a business at times and things happen,” Parenteau said. “I always had that feeling, personally, that I would eventually show up with the Islanders, and I’m really excited that it’s happening this year.”
Parenteau had 120 points (38G, 82A) in 161 games with the Islanders from 2010-12, his two most productive seasons in the NHL, and scored a career-high 67 points playing alongside John Tavares in 2011-12.
His road back to the Islanders would take four seasons, with three different teams, some adversity and ultimately redemption. Parenteau’s first stop after the Islanders was in Colorado, where he scored 43 points (18G, 25A) in 48 games with the Avalanche in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, his highest points-per-game (0.895) rate.
That should have settled any questions about his ability to produce without the Islanders’ captain, but injuries and a coaching change led to a tough, two-year stretch for the feisty winger.
He was limited to 55 and 56 games in the next two seasons, a trade to Montreal separating the two campaigns. Despite the Hull, Quebec native playing for fellow Quebecers Patrick Roy in Colorado and Michel Therrien in Montreal, Parenteau said things just didn’t click and he was never sure he had the complete confidence of either coach.
But after two years of setbacks, Parenteau turned things around under Mike Babcock in Toronto. He stayed healthy, playing 77 games, and scored career-high tying 20 goals to lead the Maple Leafs.
“I think when you have a good relationship with your coach, it’s really important for a player,” Parenteau said. “If you have the confidence of your coach, he puts you out there, and you’ll be successful if you have the right tools. That’s what happened last year. All the years when I had a good season, I had good relationships with my coaches.”
That includes two seasons under Islanders coach Jack Capuano.
“He’s the guy that gave my shot to play in the NHL,” Parenteau said. “I’ve always liked the guy a lot. He’s got a good personality; he’s fun to be around. I’m looking forward to work with him again, for sure.”
Nothing has been promised to Parenteau with regards to where he’ll play, or how much power play time he’ll get, but he sees his abilities on the man advantage as a plus and an area he can help the Islanders.
“I think I can bring some offensive help, some help on the power play, as well,” Parenteau said. “I’ve always been a good power play guy. That’s what I do—I try to find my teammates, try to make plays, and I can score some goals too, if you need me to.”
He added that his defensive game has improved, which should be music to Capuano’s ears, who often talks about players’ ability to play away from the puck. He credits experience and tutelage from Babcock with helping him in that regard.
“My defensive game is probably a little better than when I started in the NHL,” Parenteau said. “I’m more aware, more patient. I make better decisions without the puck. I think my game with the puck has always been my strength, but I think I’m better without it now.”
The Islanders will welcome back his fire on the ice as well. Parenteau’s never been afraid to mix things up or engage physically. In a game against the Bruins back on March 3, 2012, Zdeno Chara was draped all over Tavares for the first 40 minutes, but Chara’s focus shifted to Parenteau after a series of post-whistle clashes. With Parenteau taking the heat off Tavares, the Islanders’ captain wound up scoring the game-winning goal in the third period.
Islanders fans will also welcome back his scoring touch against the Rangers. The former Ranger draft pick played like he had something to prove vs. the blueshirts, scoring 16 points (7G, 9A) in 12 games during his time with the Islanders.
While Parenteau is looking to recapture – or continue – his strong play from his previous stint with the Islanders, some things have changed. The Islanders play out of Barclays Center, and while good friends like Tavares and Travis Hamonic remain, there’s been considerable turnover to the roster. But the Islanders as a franchise are in a better spot in his mind. The team has made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons and the expectation is to win.
“In the last three years, this has been a playoff team, so it’s a lot different than when I was there,” Parenteau said. “I’m looking forward to work with a winning team. It’s going to be awesome for me to jump in, and I’m going to try to fit in as much as I can right away.”
The bottom line, he’s healthy and happy to be back, the place he always thought he should be.