HF’s Interview with Zach Parise

By Oliver Janz

Hockey’s Future: There’s a big hype about you after scoring so many points and playing as impressive as you did. What do you think about it and how do you handle it?

Zach Parise: I don’t reflect on the point production too much unless I am in a big slump and I don’t find the media or any of the hype to phase me in any way. I felt a little pressure at the beginning of the season, but everything fell into place.


HF:
According to yourself, the main reason why you chose the University of North Dakota was the Head Coach of the Fighting Sioux, Dean Blais. What’s so special with him and what can you say about your relationship to him after the first months?


ZP:
Coach Blais is an incredible motivator. He makes you want to play your best and he makes you excited to come to the rink and go to practice. Our relationship has been great. We can always joke around with him and he is a players’ coach.


HF:
Was it a big change from the Midget AAA level to the NCAA level?


ZP:
The guys are obviously a lot bigger and it is more physical. The pace is faster, but it doesn’t take long to adjust.


HF:
And how was the change from the Prep School of Shattuck-St. Mary’s to the University of North Dakota?


ZP:
It was different. I am used to the small school atmosphere and this is obviously a big change for me.


HF:
Did you know a player / a student at UND before?


ZP:
Jesse Bull played when they won the NCAA’s in ’97


HF:
Your team is currently one of the best teams in the NCAA. Which goal is more important for you: Winning the Rookie of the Year Award or reaching the Frozen Four Tournament?


ZP:
Obviously reaching the frozen four is the team goal. The team success is the most important and with team success there is individual success.


HF:
Four years at the University of North Dakota are “normal”, but Ryan Miller also said hello to the pro business after three years. Is college also a year-by-year decision for you?


ZP:
I think, when the time comes if I have the opportunity to leave it is a year by year decision, depending on what the team that drafts me needs in their line-up.


HF:
Regarding your high number of points you scored so far: You scored many points against average teams and you aren’t the best scorer of your team in conference games. Can one say you know how to score against those average teams due to your time at Shattuck St. Mary’s and are now learning to score against top teams?


ZP:
I think the below average teams still aren’t easy to score against. Nothing is easy at this level. The conference games are tougher and it took me a game to adjust. But after you catch on and realize what you can and cannot do, it is a matter of going to the basics and doing what I have always done to score.


HF:
You still have three college seasons to go after this season – how far is Paul Kariya’s record from 1993 (100 points) away?


ZP:
That is a pretty impressive number. Hopefully, my numbers will increase each season and I have good enough line mates to make anything happen.


HF:
After ranked by the CSB on position one among the College players, you shouldn’t have many weaknesses. But, are there some things you have to work on or you ever had problems with?


ZP:
I have done a lot of work on my skating. I went to a skating school in Minneapolis this summer to tweak a couple of things because you can never be a good enough skater.


HF:
Your favourite player (Joe Sakic) is playing for Colorado, your favourite team is Detroit. However, you seem to be one of the first picks in the upcoming draft. What would you think if the announcer says: “… the Nashville Predators chose Zach Parise” ?


ZP:
I will be thrilled with whatever happens at the Draft. You can’t choose who you want to play for and it is going to be very exciting. It doesn’t bother me which team selects me.


HF:
Your father JP played 13 seasons in the NHL for Minnesota and the NY Islanders. He’s also working for Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Is it helpful to have a dad with this experience and background or was it sometimes harder for you?


ZP:
It was always a benefit to have him supporting my brother (Jordan) and me. He brings a huge amount of knowledge to me and helps me with whatever I need to work on. He helps every aspect of my game.


HF:
Did you ever play against your father in the past. If so, who won and did you checked him?


ZP:
We played a little 1 on 1 here and there and some 3 post. I’d say it was pretty even for the most part. He usually was the one hitting me.


HF:
You tried some other sports before you decide to play hockey regular. Such as tennis or baseball as well as golf. Why did you chose hockey, was it due to your “hockey based” family?


ZP:
I think it was in my blood. We were born with it in our genes and we excelled in it. Both my brother and I loved to play it all the time.


HF:
While playing for Shattuck-St. Mary’s, your opponents always looked on two players. You – and the other one was Tyler Hirsch. Are you still in contact with him ?


ZP:
Yeah, Tyler and I have been best friends for years. It was neat playing against him for the Gophers. He is a riot.


HF:
You are a two time MVP of the Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament, you scored a lot of points at Shattuck-St.Mary’s, you are leading the WCHA in scoring. With those achievements: do you feel as a star player, as a high talented prospect or what’s the best description for you at the moment?


ZP:
I wouldn’t call myself a star player. I just enjoy playing the game and I work hard every time I step on the ice.


HF:
You asked a friend to record a message over your school answering machine to deceive callers into thinking they have the wrong number. Do you have still time to relax a bit besides all that hockey and hype?


ZP:
Yeah, we have time to just relax. The media and hype has died down since the rush at the beginning of the year. I think it was because I was a fresh face in the WCHA. I don’t even think of all the media.


HF:
Music star Robbie Williams said some years ago, he only made the music stuff to be loved by more girls. So, how many girls of the UND Campus are in love with Zach Parise?


ZP:
I don’t know of any right now. I don’t think they’d tell me if they did anyway.


HF:
Which guy should have been the topscorer of the Under-20 Tournament: Alexander Ovechkin or Zach Parise?


ZP:
If it were my choice, I think you know the answer


HF:
And after answering about a million of questions from reporters during the last week: Which question did you like most?


ZP:
Some lady asked me why I didn’t score on a particular goalie. I said you can’t score all the time but I couldn’t believe she asked it!


HF:
Thanks for answering these questions and all the best for your future.