J.P. Parise (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)
J.P. Parise is remembered by many hockey fans for getting kicked out of Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series, but he was also an industrious player, both for Team Canada and in the NHL. After his career, he went on to build one of the most successful school hockey programs in the United States.
J.P. Parise will be remembered by most hockey fans for two things: Almost decapitating referee Josef Kompalla in Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series and being the father of NHL star Zach Parise.
In reality, of course, he was so much more than that. Parise, who died Wednesday night at the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer, will be remembered as an industrious NHL player who got the most out of his abilities and willed his way to an NHL career that lasted almost 900 games. More importantly, he’ll be remembered as the man who revived the hockey program at Shattuck St-Mary’s, a small prep school in Faribault, Minn., that became a hockey factory after Parise began coaching there in 1996.
As coach and later directory of hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Parise rebuilt a hockey program that was on the verge of collapse into a national powerhouse. Along the way it also produced a mother lode of NHL talent on the boys’ side and international stars on the girls’ side. In fact, Shattuck-St. Mary’s was represented in the 2014 Sochi Olympics by eight graduates - Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews for Canada and Zach Parise and Derek Stepan for USA in the men’s tournament and Amanda Kessel, Brianna Decker and Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux for USA in the women’s tournament.
Even in the Summit Series, Parise’s contribution was significant. Canadian teammate Peter Mahovlich said the fact Parise was in the lineup for the pivotal game despite the fact he was not a star NHLer is a testament to how valuable he was to the team. Parise played six of the eight games and scored two goals and two assists.
“He was a terrific player for us,” Mahovlich said. “He was a guy, like a lot of us, who were playing right to the end and playing roles that I don’t think a lot of people expected we would. But J.P. Parise was the kind of player we needed. He was a no-nonsense guy who never took a shift off. That was the way he played for us and that was the way he played in the NHL.”
In Game 8 of the Summit Series, with the Soviets leading 1-0, Parise took an interference penalty at the 4:10 mark of the first period that gave the Soviets a 4-on-3 advantage. Even though the penalty was clearly warranted, Parise was so incensed at the call that after receiving a 10-minute misconduct, came bearing down on Kompalla with his stick over his head, looking as though he would swing it. At the last second, Parise thought better of it, but still received a game misconduct.
“Thankfully, he had enough sense not to do it,” Mahovlich said. “I think we all learned a lot about ourselves in that series and I think J.P. learned about controlling his emotions. And I think that was something he was able to pass on to kids all those years later when he coached them in Minnesota.”
Parise was always an emotional player and even though his emotions got the better of him often, they were the main reason he ended up in Minnesota. Not quite able to make the cut in the Original 6 NHL, Parise and hundreds of other players got a new lease on life when the league expanded to 12 teams in 1967-68. Parise got his chance when the California Golden Seals picked him up from the Boston Bruins in the expansion draft. In one pre-season game, Parise took a penalty that resulted in the tying goal being scored against the Seals, after which Seals coach Bert Olmstead tore into him.
In a 2011 interview with The Hockey News, Parise said Olmstead called him a “frog” and said he’d ship him “right back to Quebec.”
“So me, being feisty and not understanding my place, I said, ‘F--- you. First of all, I’m not from Quebec and just because I screwed up, that gives you no (expletive) right to attack my heritage. It was stupidity at my best. The part of the brain that understands consequences was not quite developed.”
Parise thought at the time he’d be going back to Smooth Rock Falls in northern Ontario to a life at the paper mill, but ended up with the North Stars, where he forged a good NHL career. He played seven-plus seasons with the North Stars before being dealt to the New York Islanders in 1975, where he set what was then an NHL record for the fastest overtime goal when he scored 11 seconds into overtime against the New York Rangers to give the Islanders their first-ever playoff series win. He went on to score 16 points in 17 playoff games for that Islanders team, which helped set the stage for the Stanley Cup dynasty that was to follow a four years later.
Parise is just the third player from the 1972 Summit Series to die. The first was Bill Goldsworthy, Parise’s former teammate with the North Stars and one of his closest friends. Goldsworthy died of complications of AIDS in 1996. Defenseman Gary Bergman died of cancer in 2000.