Is Parise the Obvious Choice to be Devils Next Captain?

By Steve Palumbo

In a recent New York Post article, Mark Everson proclaims, “The (New Jersey) Devils must make Zach Parise captain.” Normally I could care less what the Post or Everson has to say but when it comes to this particular subject they had my attention. And as tough as this is for me to admit, for once I have to agree. There I said it, now let me explain why.

In his article Everson writes, “The sole argument against (Parise’s) coronation is that he is on a one-year contract and might leave, making him a one-year captain. So what?” Normally I can’t stand to read what (N)Everson writes but he sums up my feelings exactly.

Parise’s leadership on and off the ice combined with his star potential make him an obvious choice to fill the void once filled by players like Langenbrunner, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Kirk Muller. However, the Devils were unable to secure a multi-year extension with Parise and as a result he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season. Quite frankly bypassing Parise over a little contract snafu is a poor excuse to exclude a player of his character.

Devils new head coach Pete DeBoer has to ignore the contract status and name the 26-year-old as captain. Thus putting his stamp on the team while solidifying the Devils desire to retain their prized winger long term. Handing Parise the “C” could be that olive branch both sides have needed during contract negotiations. In other words it’s a bona fide way for the Devils to show arguably the best player ever to wear the red and black they believe in his abilities and are committed to him as the face of the franchise in the post-Brodeur era.

There really is no other way to go about this; Parise must be the teams ninth captain. Especially after Patrik Elias, my first choice and the clubs all-time scoring leader, reiterated during the first couple days of training camp that he’s “been there, done that,” and has no desire to be a captain again. Also, as Everson pointed out, handing the responsibility to Ilya Kovalchuk would feel more like a consolation prize because he’s clearly not the teams first choice.

Since the Devils traded former Captain Jamie Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars in early January the captaincy has remained vacant. Coach DeBoer made it clear that he intends to have a captain in place prior to opening night and Parise has to be the guy. Is it really too much for me to ask to end all the shenanigans and dramatic build up and just name Zach the guy?

Let me know what you think. Is it Parise or bust for the Devils or will DeBoer choose somebody else?

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