NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 8: Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center on October 8, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Winning the Stanley Cup is what every hockey player lives to do. Just five wins away, Zach Parise is as close as he has ever been. Would it be enough to content him?
There is an old saying that opinions are like... well, a certain orifice on your body, and that they all stink. The 2012 NHL Free Agency corollary is that everyone seems to have an opinion on where Zach Parise will go or what his motivations are, and guess what?
They all stink.
There is not a single opinion available to the average Joe, nor the average reporter, that would give any real insight to what Parise is thinking about come July 1. Anyone who says they do know what he is thinking is feeding you a line, and trying to get you to read their work by using the flashy headline and throwing Parise's name in. It would be almost award worthy search engine optimization work, save that most of the people telling you where Parise will go likely couldn't spell SEO with the help of a spelling bee champion.
Some people think Parise will sign here in Minnesota, you know, because he is from Minnesota and every free agent ever from our fine state only wants to play hockey here. Some think he will sign in New York with the Rangers. Solid theory, as they have the cash and the winning tradition. They also happen to be arch rivals of the Devils, something I'm not convinced Parise is the type of guy to overlook.
Others have him signing with the Detroit Red Wings. Also a solid theory, with no really good reason to debunk it, other than that the Wings are aging, and are not the team they used to be.
Where is this taking us? Simple, Tom Powers at the St. Paul Pioneer Press would like to tell Minnesota Wild fans that they should cheer for the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup. Why? Because, in Powers' words, it increases the odds of the Wild signing Parise from ".05 percent to maybe 20 percent."
In reality, if Parise and the Devils beat the Rangers, advance to the Stanley Cup finals, the Devils win, Parise accepts the greatest trophy in all of sport from Gary Bettman, and hoists it above his now haloed head, it decreases the Wild's chance of signing the biggest free agent of the year to zero. We're talking absolute zero. Molecules-in-all-matter-have-stopped-moving level of not happening, folks.
Of course, this isn't a slight on the Wild. They would share the exact same chance of Parise signing here as the Rangers and Red Wings would have. None. Zero. Zip. Ziltch. Nada.
Captains, at least in hockey, do not win a championship and then suddenly feel their life's work is fulfilled and head home, as Powers put it, "the conquering hero." A quick search, by some good folks, shows that no captain from 1975 until today has won a Cup and then inked a deal with a new team. You know what captains, at 28 years old, want to do after winning a Stanley Cup?
Win another one.
The cut and dry of this situation, ladies and gentlemen, is that Zach Parise likely ends up back on the Devils next season. They give him a great shot at winning, they are all he has ever known, and they can find the money to pay him should they decide to do so. The Wild have as much chance as anyone else, save for the Devils, but they aren't special.
The teams with the best shot to sign him all have the money. It won't be a money issue. It will be a choice issue. He is going to go where he wants to play, and where he can win. Right now, that is New Jersey.
When you are reading anything regarding Parise, his motives, and where he is going to sign, take it all in with a huge grain of salt. Then, immediately discount anyone who thinks he is going to sign with the Nashville Predators. Sorry, Tom.