In my previous blog post (posted 1/7/2015), I stated it had been announced that J.P. Parise had made the decision to stop chemotherapy treatments and had been receiving hospice care.
I knew this sad update was going to have to be made...eventually.
The Minnesota Hockey community lost a great member when J.P. Parise passed away Wednesday night after a year-long bout with Stage 4 lung cancer at his home in Prior Lake with his wife and kids by his side. Mr. Parise was 73-years-old.
Even though J.P. was born in Canada and was a member of Team Canada when they faced off against the Soviet Union in the Summit Series in 1972 (in which he played in six of eight games), J.P. started to make a name for himself in Minnesota Hockey when he played for his first Minnesota team—the Minneapolis Bruins (of the old Central Professional Hockey League) back in 1964.
|J.P. Parise, #11 for the Minnesota North Stars|
After playing with games with both the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, J.P. returned to the Twin Cities when he was traded from the Leafs to the Minnesota North Stars in December of 1967. J.P. was an NHL All Star during his first stint with the North Stars, having made the All Star teams in 1970 and 1973. His second stint with the North Stars came in 1978, when the Cleveland Barons merged with the North Stars. J.P. retired from the NHL after the 1978-79 season. He played in 890 NHL games during his career and scored 238 goals, along with appearing in 86 play-off games. After his playing days were over, J.P. still remained with the North Stars as an assistant coach from 1980-84 and 1985-88. He was the head coach of the Salt Lake Golden Eagles (an affiliate minor league team of the North Stars) for the 1984-85 season.
Tom Reid had this to say about his close friend and former North Stars teammate:
"J.P. was probably one of the best cornermen in the game,” Reid said. “When he went in the corner, he was going to come out with the puck. But he was a very honest hockey player. No cheap shots out there" (startribune.com, 1/9/2015)
|Zach and his dad in his dad's office at Shattuck-St. Mary's|
Photo Coutesy of Carlos Gonzalez (@CarlosGphoto on twitter)
J.P. later moved on to being the coach and hockey director at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, MN. His son, (current Minnesota Wild star forward) Zach, played there--along with current NHL players Jack Johnson, Sidney Crosby (who was a frequent dinner guest of the Parises), Jonathan Toews, and Kyle Okposo.
Sidney Crosby had this to say about J.P., "As a Canadian kid and knowing the history with that series, he (JP) just had so many stories all the time…He played for so long. I always found that to be pretty fun, to listen to him talk and tell stories about that.” Crosby also stated that during his time at Shattuck-St. Mary's that JP and his wife, Donna, were "both really good to me." (Jason Mackey, triblive.com, 11/4/2014).
Later on, J.P. would go on to serve on the Board of Directors and the Board of Legends for Defending the Blue Line (an organization that Zach is a big supporter of).
|J.P Parise being announced to the crowd|
Last January, J.P. was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. It wasn't publicly announced until this past September. Right before the Olympic Break, J.P. did the "Let's Play Hockey" call, (video is here).
Zach stated this to the Star Tribune's Michael Russo in an article about him and his dad,
“I can’t wait for the season to start because he loves coming to games so much. Everything about the game, the way I play, he has taught me everything. Every kid’s dad is their role model, but it goes beyond that with him. It’s so much more. The life lessons he taught me have been unbelievable.” (Michael Russo, startribune.com 9/28/2014).
|Zach and J.P. last March in Arizona (courtesy of startribune.com)|
When Zach signed with the Minnesota Wild back in 2012 (along with good friend and now-current teammate Ryan Suter), he based his decision on "going home" (Zach grew up here in the Twin Cities).
In Michael Russo's article I had previously mentioned (Parise family embraces life's good moments during tough times, startribune.com 9/28/2014), Zach had mentioned that he told Ryan (Suter) about the news he had recently received. As a result of Ryan talking with (Wild GM) Chuck Fletcher, J.P. joined Zach and the rest of the Minnesota Wild on a road trip to Arizona, Los Angeles, and Chicago ( a raod trip in which they went 2-0-1). It was at the game in Phoenix where J.P. witnessed Zach scoring his career 239th goal, surpassing J.P.'s career total.
Besides, son Zach, J.P. Parise is survived by his wife (Donna), two other sons (Marc and Jordan), daughter (Colette), and six grandchildren.
Josh Cooper had this to say in an article on sports.yahoo.com about Zach and Ryan's decision to both sign here back in 2012 (Ryan's dad, 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team member Bob Suter, died suddenly in September 2014 in Madison of a heart attack):
“Now it’s clear both made the right choice… And the proximity of both parents to their children to see their kids play before they died made their 2012 decision seem so much clearer, especially with 2015’s 20/20 hindsight.
“I’m so happy I got to be closer the two years prior,” Suter said to Puck Daddy in early December. “He came to a lot more games and we were able to spend a lot more time together since he was closer. In that regard it worked out great.””
For Zach (and for Ryan), the past two years being with the Minnesota Wild has to be absolutely priceless to be able to be close to family. There is no monetary value that can be placed on that at all.
Yesterday, after it was announced about J.P.'s passing, I was on twitter (my personal twitter account, not the @stickshappen account), and I saw this tweet that sums it up best:
The Minnesota Wild had a tribute for J.P. prior to the start of their game with Chicago on Thursday night. The video that was played can be seen here.
While I was writing this article, I also was thinking about the recent passing of well-known ESPN SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott (he passed away on Sunday morning after a seven-year battle with cancer) and what he said at the ESPY awards back in July when he was honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance award:
"You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live."
Even though I never knew or met J.P., from what I have read, Stuart Scott's statement can definitely apply to J.P.
My condolences go out to Zach and the Parise Family.
Josh Cooper's article can be read here.
Link to the Star Tribune article from 9/29/2014 is here.