Zach Parise is firing on all cylinders at the 2004 WJC. After the first four games, he leads in scoring with 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points.
“Zach has been our leader so far,” said USA coach Mike Eaves in a visit to the Helsinki Arena January 1st. “He plays on every situation, five-on-five, power plays, penalty killing. The way he leads the group probably explains why we are 4-0 at this point,” added Eaves.
The coach of the American team is not unfamiliar with the Finnish setting. In the 1990’s, he coached Helsinki HIFK, a team of the SM LIGA whose home ice is the same where the WJC is played in Helsinki. Eaves is very enthusiastic when he is asked to talk about Parise.
“His legs are moving, he knows how to score goals and he understands the sense of the game. When you put all those three things together, you have a pretty nice whole package,” commented Eaves.
When asked to make a comparison, New Jersey Devil Scott Gomez is the name that immediately came to Eaves mind. “Both are about the same size, have a lot of skills, are fast hockey players and have the same tools.”
Eaves knows Zach’s father Jean-Paul pretty well because he was one of the assistant coaches when he played for the Minnesota North Stars. Jean-Paul was a checker and a plugger, which he recognized himself, according to Eaves. “Zach is definitively not that,” said Eaves. “He has a lot more,” specifying that it was no offense to Jean-Paul.
About Zach’s future in NHL, Eaves said that there are players about Zach’s size who have success in the NHL. “Going in the right organization and given a right chance he will have the opportunity to demonstrate he can and does deserve to play in NHL,” concluded Eaves.
Simon Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the Summit Series published in 2002. At the 2003 WJC, he collaborated for the Montreal newspaper La Presse. This year, he is collaborating with Radio-Canada.