EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — The New York Islanders’ wait for Zach Parise is over — and he’s opted for the Rocky Mountains instead of the L.I.E.
The veteran winger signed a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night after a summer and a half-season mulling over his options for a potential comeback for a 19th NHL campaign.
Parise spent the previous two seasons with the Islanders, lauding and apperciating the organization to the point where he said following the 2022-23 season that his home for the 2023-24 season “would be here or nowhere. That’s how I feel like that’d be. I can’t say for sure but I feel like it would be up to me and my decision.”
But the Islanders’ slow and inconsistent start to this season didn’t make it such a cut-and-dry decision for Parise. After all, he’s 39 years old and still chasing an elusive Stanley Cup title while the Islanders are sitting outside a playoff spot upon the All-Star break.
The Avalanche are one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, sitting atop the Central Division and No. 2 in the Western Conference.
“We would’ve loved to have him come here, but he has to make a decision for himself,” Mathew Barzal, who described Parise as one of his favorite teammates ever, said. “I’m sure if we had won eight of the games that we probably could’ve this year and we were 15, 16, even 10 points ahead of where we were at today, I’m sure he would’ve been in blue and orange but he has to make a decision for himself.
“He knows his time is ticking and Colorado is a front-runner to win the Cup, so I wish that we had done a better job to allow him to come here.”
Both Barzal and Brock Nelson, now Parise’s former teammates, would periodically check in on the forward, who scored 21 goals and was an invaluable piece of New York last season both in his innumerous roles on the ice and his leadership off it.
“It’s exciting for him. We definitely would’ve loved to have him back here,” Nelson said. “He’s a great guy for this group. He’s a veteran guy who deserves to win and has a great chance of doing that in Colorado. We wish him the best.
“Are we disappointed that he didn’t come back here? Yeah, kind of. It is what it is. He wants to win and he’s an ultimate competitor. The fact that he’s able to continue on and have that chance, you hope to see him do well.”