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Zach Parise Joined Avalanche To Do What He Couldn’t With Islanders

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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Zach Parise was back in New York and back in the NHL on Monday night, but not with the New York Islanders.

After Parise officially joined the Colorado Avalanche last week, he made his debut as a member of the team in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

“I thought he had a good night,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. “Involved right away, has a couple shots, a couple opportunities, hard-working guy. Did his job on the checking side of it. I thought he was involved. For playing his first game in a long time, I thought it was a pretty good game from him.”

Parise accrued 11:25 of ice time in the game and put up three shots on goal while skating on Colorado’s third line. With the veteran winger now on board, the Avalanche have the experience and depth necessary to make another run at a Stanley Cup as a heavy favorite in the Western Conference.

“Well, that is [the hope], no question,” Bednar said. “Our top guys, I’m sure they’re somewhere around 22 minutes, which is my goal for those guys, especially when you’ve got to play back-to-back. There are going to be nights where we have to lean on those guys heavily to get some points, but for me, I thought the other three lines did a nice job tonight with both their checking details and helping us out a little bit on the offensive side of it. Goals were tough to come by.”

Chasing the Stanley Cup is why Parise is back playing in the NHL at age 39. A championship has eluded him throughout his 19-year NHL career, and he believes playing in Colorado provides him the best chance to finally win one.

“Just from watching and playing against this group for a long time, it’s no secret how good they are,” Parise told Ryan Boulding of NHL.com. “This being my last go at it, nothing’s guaranteed, but I want to put myself in a spot where you have a good chance. That’s all you ask for, so to me, that was the biggest draw.”

Fans of the Islanders and the team itself hoped that Parise would choose to come back to the organization after spending the last two seasons on Long Island, where he revitalized his career.

Parise himself said at his end-of-season media availability with the Islanders last May that if he did decide to return, “it’d be here or nowhere.”

However, with the Islanders having struggled to keep pace in the race for the playoffs, a reunion never made much sense for Parise in the twilight of his career.

“I’m sure if we had won eight of the games that we probably could have this year and were 15, 16 points, 10 points even, ahead of where we’re at today, I’m sure he’d be in blue and orange,” Mathew Barzal said to Newsday prior to the All-Star break. “He knows his time is ticking, and Colorado is a front-runner for winning the Cup. I wish that we had done a better job to allow him to come here.”

With the Islanders having already played their two games against Colorado this season, they won’t run into Parise unless they and the Avalanche meet in the Stanley Cup Final.

In the meantime, all the Islanders can do is wish their former teammate the best and hope he finally accomplishes what he was never able to do with them.

Evan Rawal of Colorado Hockey Now contributed to this report. 

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