Clearly Zach Parise is just as excited as we are! The 25 year old Minnesota native has had an impressive career thus far, but no one that knows him is surprised by his success. Parise has hockey in his blood; his father J.P. spent 12 seasons in the NHL and represented his nation in the '72 Summit Series. His love for his country was definitely passed down to Zach (although when it comes time to pull on the sweaters of their nation, one is rocking the maple leaf and the other is rocking the red, white and blue):
"I always told Zach that after a series, standing on the blue line, hearing your national anthem ... there's nothing more exciting, more captivatingthan that. And then in Slovakia in 2002, when he scored the winning goal with 58 seconds left [in the world under-18 tournament], he was standing on the blue line and freely sobbing. I was with my wife in the stands. I turned to her and said, 'See?'"
That pride was showcased once again during the 2010 Winter Olympics when Parise full out hustled every second of every shift in an effort to bring a medal back to the United states. Anyone watching the gold medal game remembers this moment:
Despite being described as "an oatmeal cookie: not a big splurge but solid," Parise has captivated audiences, on both the national and international stage, since he broke into the league in 2005, racking up 331 points in 405 regular season games. His unparalleled work ethic can be a bit of a problem when the final buzzer sounds:
"It can be tough to separate hockey from my life away from the rink. I take games pretty seriously, and I take losses pretty hard. If I'm not playing well, I guess I'm not the best person to be around. The most important thing is to forget about a game once it's done – whether it was a good game or a bad game – and start focusing on the next one. Sometimes that can be a challenge."
Despite being "all business", Parise enjoys fishing and reading in his spare time. He likes all kinds of music (everything from country to rock to techno) and even creates unique playlists for each game, depending on how things have been going. But above all else he seems to really enjoy spending time with his teammates, especially when it comes time to pull practical jokes (something about a 6 foot mannequin in a brand new car?). Parise is also committed to community events including New Jersey's public libraries; he's part of an advertising campaign that encourages people to "score with reading".
So enjoy this unique combination of heart, skill, work ethic, hockey bloodlines and oh of course good looks!