It was completely serendipitous, but somehow fitting that on the night Anders Lee passed Mark Parrish in the Isles record books, he had to pass him on the ice.
That was how it unfolded when Lee scored his second goal of the night on Sunday, the 119th of his Islanders career, tying him for 21st on the team's all-time list. Parrish was between the benches as an analyst for MSG, so when Lee skated by the bench for the customary high fives, Parrish - a friend and mentor to Lee - threw out a fist bump, congratulating him on the feat.
"It was a special moment, the poetic timing to have it happen while I was there," Parrish, who scored 118 goals over five seasons with the Islanders, said. "It was pretty cool and it couldn't happen to a better kid - a kid I was a fan of before I got to know him. Then I got to know how great of a guy he is and became a bigger fan. It was certainly a memory I'll have for a long time."
Parrish said the fist bump was unplanned. It was a genuine moment because Parrish was genuinely happy for Lee.
"I couldn't help myself, I saw that he was the first one leading the way and I kind of saw him looking out of the corner of his eye with a smirk and I jumped in on one of the little things I missed about the game," Parrish said Monday. "It was pretty cool, I was really excited. I've been living vicariously through him as it is.
Lee and Parrish have formed a relationship off the ice over the past few years, built on a shared home - Parrish is from Bloomington, MN, a 15-minute drive from Lee's hometown of Edina, MN - and a shared style of play. Long before Lee parked himself in front of the net looking for deflections and rebounds, Parrish did the same for the Islanders.
"I saw so many similarities in the way he played and the way I like to play the game," Parrish said. "It was fun to almost pick his brain because I realized we were on the same wavelength."
Video: Practice Update 3/19: Anders Lee 35th Goal
Lee grew up watching Parrish, albeit after his Isles career when the veteran returned home to play for the Minnesota Wild. Little did Lee know, Parrish had kept tabs on him when he was a high school star in Minnesota. A couple of summers ago, Lee's agent thought it would be good for them to meet, so he set up a lunch for the two to talk shop in the Twin Cities.
"Parry is one of the best out there," Lee said. "I sat down with him a couple summers ago and just went over a lot of stuff, his career and how he played the net front. I took from him as much as I could and he's been a huge supporter."
Lee said he absorbed whatever lessons he could from Parrish. There's not too many people that can relate to battling in front of the net while pucks wiz by.
"It's not just standing there and hoping it hits your stick, there's a lot more to it and understanding the play and situation," Lee said. "It's a lot of timing, it's a lot of understanding the play developing in front of you. You're gaining position with guys in front and understanding where your stick needs to be and where theirs is. Just that communication of understanding all the ins and outs of going to the net front. You have your back to the goalie and where's he leaning. There's a lot of things. We just went over it, it was a great conversation."
Parrish said when he first saw how big and strong Lee is, he knew Lee was destined to become an impact player.
Lee established a new single-season career high of 35 goals after his two tallies on Sunday and has posted back-to-back 30-goal seasons. Since the start of last season, Lee is tied for fifth in the NHL in goals.
"He's had a great year, a great season. Around the net I don't know if there is anybody better," Head Coach Doug Weight said. "His hand-eye, his ability to create room and initiate contact and be able to get those pucks in the net. Thirty-five goals is tough to do in this league so it's good for him."
Lee needs two goals to tie Duane Sutter (121) for 20th on the team's all-time list and he'll undoubtedly get there. From there, he'll continue his ascent above Parrish, but the former Islander was grateful to share a moment with a good hockey player and a good friend.
"My kids were watching and got a pretty big kick out of it, so those are the little things that stick with you more than anything, more than the exact number," Parrish said. "It's the little highlights, those snippets that really stick with you. I don't know if he'll remember it, but I know my family will."