Zach Parise‘s departure from the New Jersey Devils seems almost like an afterthought at this point.
After Parise decided to join the Minnesota Wild over the Devils and a slew of other contending teams, the Devils had to deal with numerous issues, the latest being the defection of Kovalchuk to the KHL, the signing of longtime rival Jaromir Jagr, and today’s resigning of Adam Henrique.
Parise was in the clear. Devils fans have too much hate to go around at this point.
Then Parise had to open his mouth about the Kovalchuk situation. In one fell swoop, he reminded everyone of the pain that he caused and that he was the one who started the chain. Even if his quotes were positive and sympathetic towards the organization, it just opens that door once again.
It is like when an ex tells you that they “hope you’re doing okay”. We as fans take our sports relationships as if they were real relationships. We get personally hurt when the team loses a player to free agency. We get mad at the ownership when we feel like they made a wrong move for the “family”.
Parise spoke with Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports writer Greg Wyshynski, an avid Devils fan. I don’t know what he was trying to say with his comments, but it just lit the fire under this fan base once again.
Devils fans weren’t mad that Parise left the team. We have had marquee free agents go to other teams in the division. Bobby Holik and Scott Gomez were beloved when they were here, and they both signed big free agent contracts with the New York Rangers.
We welcomed Holik back years later as if he never wore a red, white and blue sweater. The notion of Gomez making one last go at it in a Devils uniform came through the fans’ minds without putrid hate. The problem most people had was that news came out suggesting Parise had made a decision with Ryan Suter as to where he was going during the playoffs — the same playoffs where the Devils were trying to win their first Stanley Cup in nearly a decade.
Wounds heal when you don’t pick at them. I am not going to be naive and think most fans haven’t circled Thursday, March 20 on their calendars. I just feel the hate for Kovalchuk rose above the hate for Parise before the comments. Now that he reminded the fan base what he did, the wound feels like it is fresh once again.