It's easy for fans to still be mad at old No. 9, even an entire year since he left. The fact is, there are some who will never forgive Zach Parise for going back to his home state of Minnesota to play with the Wild.
It was almost as bad as breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend for some. He was a sensational player who brought tenacity, skill and scoring ability to this team like none other before.
Well, it's been long enough since the break-up right? Let's take a look at some of Zach's best moments as a New Jersey Devil.
October 5, 2005 - Sidney Crosby's and Zach's first game and the first game after the lockout
Opening night of 2005 was the first ever regular season game for Sidney Crosby. For all of the hoopla surrounding him, it was also the beginning of the Penguins ascension right? Well, not on that night. Sid the Kid was out-dueled by another young player in his first-ever game. Parise had a power play goal and an assist on the power play to help New Jersey to a 5-1 win.
There was always a sort of rivalry between Parise and Crosby. Sid was the one everybody talked about, but Zach was putting up good numbers as well. The Devils had the Penguins number towards the end of Zach's tenure in NJ and that was definitely part of his doing.
February 26, 2009 - Zach scores a gorgeous goal in Martin Brodeur's return from injury
In terms of the goal itself, this might be my personal favorite goal by Parise. This game was important, because it was Martin Brodeur's first game after missing a large chunk of the season due to injury. Brodeur himself was excellent, but the offense put on a show as well. Zach's goal in the third period helped to cement the 4-0 win over the Avalanche, after his nifty move beat Andrew Raycroft. He muscled past a defender to get to the net and finished with a sensational move.
January 9, 2010- Zach's overtime winner against the Montreal Canadiens
A broken stick, a broken play and an overtime winner for No. 9. With the game tied 1-1 in overtime, Parise broke his stick in the defensive zone and the Canadians almost scored to put it away. After Parise retreated to the bench to fetch a new twig, he saw an opening and was calling for the puck in the neutral zone. The pass got there and Zach corralled it to score a gorgeous goal and give the Devils the win. That was the kind of play we were treated to from time to time, a great effort that began with a heads-up play and with a flash, the game was over and the Devils had won.
February 28, 2010 - Olympic gold medal game
I still believe that this was the most entertaining game I've ever watched. Star players on both sides of the ice and an incredible game for the gold medal against Canada. Whether you're American, Canadian, or just a fan of hockey, this was about as close to a picture-perfect hockey game as you can get. When Zach banged home a rebound with 24 seconds left in the third period, the entire country began to embrace the game of hockey. People who don't ever watch this wonderful game were watching. Hell, even Ranger fans had to root for Zach at that juncture. Sure, we know how the game ended, (thanks for ruining it, Sid) but this was a moment where Devils fans were so proud of not only their country, but of Zach Parise. It made it that much sweeter when he scored, being that it was a Devil who did it.
Shootouts- pretty much any time over his Devils career
Zach was a master of the shootout. In fact, I'd say that if there is any area where this team misses him, it's in the shootout. He was spectacular, mainly due to the fact that he wasn't a guy with just one move. He'd switch it up with ease. Whether it was a nice forehand to backhand shelf, or a deke that left the goalie scrambling, he was a huge reason why the Devils were so good in the shootout in 2011-2012, which ultimately led to their playoff positioning as so.
When the Devils skate against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday, i'm sure there will be plenty of Devils fans who cringe every time he touches the puck. Though it's totally valid to have some hatred for Parise, lets also remember how much he did for this club. You hate him, because you loved him so much here in New Jersey. I'm certainly not advocating that anyone should root for him, but just remember the magical moments he gave this team.
As I mentioned before, think of Zach as an old girlfriend/boyfriend. Sure, it stings for a while, but years later, when you're content with what you currently have, you can remember the great moments.
For No. 9 in red, there were many of those.