MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – J.P. Parise, a Minnesota North Stars standout who also played for Canada in a landmark series against the Soviet Union in 1972, has died of lung cancer. He was 73.
Parise died Wednesday night at his home in suburban Prior Lake, the Parise family said in a statement. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago and was in hospice care.
“We appreciate the outpouring of support we have received from family, friends and the entire hockey community during this difficult time,” the family said in Thursday’s statement. “J.P. was a great husband, father and grandpa and will be greatly missed by all of us.”
Parise was a major figure in Minnesota hockey, spending most of his career with the North Stars. He had 594 points in 890 games from 1965-79 with the North Stars, Boston, Toronto, the New York Islanders and the Cleveland Barons. He made two All-Star teams while with the North Stars. Parise’s son, Zach, now stars for the Minnesota Wild.
After retirement, he spent nine seasons as a North Stars assistant coach and later ran the hockey program at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minnesota.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement calling Parise “a consummate player, teacher and administrator in the game.”
In Canada, the native of Smooth Rock Falls, Ontario, is remembered for being part of Team Canada during the Summit Series of 1972. The eight-game series pitted Canada’s best against the Soviet Union — the hockey world’s superpowers — at a time when the Cold War was still on.
Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith told Canadian Press that the 1972 team helped grow the game in Canada.
“I think that group of 1972 players contributed greatly to both things: the interest in international hockey and the significance of any Canada-Russia game but also for the development of coaches at the grassroots level,” Smith told CP.
In an interview last year with the Star Tribune, Parise was philosophical about his cancer.
“That’s life,” he said. “If someone was to tell you today that you’re going to be going at 77, 78, you’d say, ‘Boy, that’s not bad.’ I never think of this shortening my life, this shortening anything I’m going to do. I’m still going to travel, I’m still going to watch hockey.”
Over the weekend, Zach Parise talked about the impending loss of his father with the Star Tribune.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life,” he told the newspaper. “You try and find that separation, you try to come here and be around the guys and not think about it, and Yeozie (coach Mike Yeo) has been really good and the team’s been really good giving me the day off, saying basically, ‘Just show up for games.’ They’ve been really supportive about it, but the hard part about it is you try to go to the rink and forget about stuff, but the hard part is . this was kind of our thing.”
“Hockey was our thing,” Parise added, fighting back tears. “Him coming to every game or watching every game and talking to him after every game and talking hockey, that’s not there anymore.”
Funeral arrangements were pending.
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