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Longtime NHL forward J.P. Parise dies at 73

by John Kreiser

J.P. Parise, an NHL forward for parts of 17 seasons and the father of Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, died Wednesday. He was 73.

"After a brave battle with lung cancer, J.P. Parise passed away peacefully at home Wednesday night with his family by his side," the Parise family said in a statement released on the Wild website. "We appreciate the outpouring of support we have received from family, friends and the entire hockey community during this difficult time. J.P. was a great husband, father and grandpa and will be greatly missed by all of us."

Parise was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in January 2014 and was hospitalized for a month in the fall because of the effects of chemotherapy. He later stopped the chemotherapy and his condition deteriorated.

"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with in my life," Zach Parise told Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune in early January. "It's hard to watch. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with in my life. Hockey was our thing. Him coming to every game or watching every game and talking to him after every game and talking hockey, that's not there anymore.

"I don't know how else to put it; it's been brutal. It's been brutal for my mom. You go and see him and you see how he is and the pain that he's going through, there's no escaping it, there's no dodging it."

Zach Parise did not play against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 6 to be with his father. He won't be in the lineup Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time, according to the family.

Commissioner Gary Bettman issued the following statement on J.P. Parise:

"The National Hockey League family mourns the passing and cherishes the memory of J.P. Parise. Especially in his adopted home state of Minnesota, J.P. was a consummate player, teacher and administrator in the game. The Parise name has been prominent in Minnesota hockey since the 1960s, and J.P.'s commitment and passion for the NHL lives on through his son, Zach. The NHL sends heartfelt condolences to J.P.'s family, to his friends, to the Minnesota Wild organization and to all the organizations J.P. represented with such passion."

Jean-Paul Parise was born Dec. 11, 1941 in Smooth Rock Falls, Ontario, and his NHL career began when he played three games for the Boston Bruins in 1965-66. After being claimed by the Oakland Seals in the 1967 expansion draft, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs four months later. The Maple Leafs traded him to the first-year Minnesota North Stars on Dec. 23, 1967 and he found a home with the expansion team and developed a reputation as one of the NHL's best two-way forwards, a rugged player who could make offensive contributions.

Parise set career bests with 24 goals and 72 points in 1969-70, then topped those figures with 27 goals and 75 points in 1972-73. He was named to the NHL All-Star Game in each of those seasons.

Parise played for Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. He appeared in six of the eight games, scoring twice and assisting on two goals with a team-high 28 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct in Game 8.

Parise turned 33 during the 1974-75 season, and his offensive numbers were down. The North Stars traded him to the New York Islanders in January 1975 for forwards Ernest Hicke and Doug Rombough. Parise brought a veteran presence and his still-considerable skills to the young Islanders, helping the third-year franchise make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time.

He scored their first series-winning goal 11 seconds into overtime in Game 3 of the preliminary-round series against the New York Rangers, a goal that general manager Bill Torrey later called the most important in Islanders history. They advanced to Game 7 of the semifinals, with Parise contributing eight goals and 16 points in 17 games.

He scored 22 goals for the Islanders in 1975-76 and 25 in '76-77 while also contributing solid defensive play. Halfway through the 1977-78 season, the Islanders traded Parise to the Cleveland Barons with defenseman Jean Potvin for forwards Wayne Merrick and Darcy Regier.

The Barons were merged with the North Stars in the summer of 1978, and Parise was captain in 1978-79, his final season. He retired with 238 goals and 594 points in 890 regular-season games and had 27 goals and 58 points in 86 playoff games.

Parise spent several years with the North Stars organization, mostly as an assistant coach, before stepping away from the NHL and becoming hockey director at Shattuck-St. Mary's, a prep school in Faribault, Minn.

Zach Parise, chosen by the New Jersey Devils in the first round (No. 17) of the 2003 NHL Draft, played there, as did Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Crosby, a native of Nova Scotia, was a frequent dinner guest of the Parise family during his time at Shattuck-St. Mary's.

"He's a great man, and he has such a great attitude," Crosby told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in November. "He's always positive, always upbeat. With a mindset like that, you feel like he's a guy who can overcome it."

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