Penguins star Crosby’s thoughts with Parise family
ST. PAUL, Minn. — It might be tough to tell given his torrid start to the season, but Sidney Crosby is human.
Which means that he, like everyone else, was saddened to learn that J.P. Parise — a Minnesota hockey legend and current Wild player Zach Parise’s dad — had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer earlier this year during the Sochi Olympics.
Crosby remembers the elder Parise as the hockey director at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn., a prep school where Crosby played and won a national championship in 2002-03.
Though it’s been months since Parise’s diagnosis, the story has gained considerable steam since being made public at the end of September.
“He’s a great man, and he has such a great attitude,” Crosby said of Parise. “He’s always positive, always upbeat. With a mindset like that, you feel like he’s a guy who can overcome it.”
Crosby became close with the Parise family while at Shattuck-St. Mary’s. If the hockey team was off during a given weekend, Parise and his wife, Donna, would invite Crosby over for dinner.
“They both were really good to me,” Crosby said.
Parise played six seasons and parts of two others with Minnesota. He was named to the NHL All-Star Game twice and had 27 goals and 75 points in 1972-73.
Crosby’s said his favorite Parise memory remains hearing him tell stories about the 1972 Summit Series against Russia, where Parise played six of eight games for Team Canada against Russia.
Parise even played on a line with Phil Esposito in the Summit Series, totaling two goals and two assists.
“As a Canadian kid and knowing the history with that series, he just had so many stories all the time,” Crosby said. “He played for so long. I always found that to be pretty fun, to listen to him talk and tell stories about that.”
Parise, 72, has faced his diagnosis head-on. In the story chronicling Zach Parise’s emotional struggle of concentrating on hockey while his father undergoes chemotherapy, J.P. Parise rattled off a few gems to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“At the end of the day, I am still alive,” Parise said. “I am still alive, and tomorrow I will still be alive. I am not dying tomorrow. How long this will last, I don’t know. It depends on my attitude, it depends on nature, it depends on how I attack it.”
Parise’s reaction to his diagnosis doesn’t come as a surprise to the Penguins captain.
Crosby wasn’t sure whether J.P. Parise would make an appearance at Tuesday’s game, although the elder Parise has insisted that he would keep attending hockey games.
He was hopeful, though, to look up in the stands and see J.P. Parise, someone he has looked up to from a metaphorical standpoint for years.
“It’s definitely difficult,” Crosby said. “But if there’s anybody who has the right mentality and the attitude that you need coming through something like that, it’s him.”