SIHR’s Behind the Boards

SIHR’s Behind the Boards


Thoughts on J. P. Parise

Greg Oliver
Posted January 11, 2015

Viewed 1219 times

There will be many others eulogizing J.P. Parise, who died January 7th of lung cancer, and rightfully so. He was a heck of a hockey player, helped develop hockey players at his post-hockey life as a coach in the NHL and the minors, and then as hockey director at Shattuck-Saint Mary's, and, well, he sired a heck of a hockey player in Zach Parise.

I watched him play a bit in the 1970s, in my formative years as a fan, and have a bunch of his hockey cards. He's associated mostly with the Boston Bruins, in whose system he came up, and the Minnesota North Stars, where he played a ton, coached and settled down. But he played with the New York Islanders and the Cleveland Barons too.

While working on Written in Blue & White: The Toronto Maple Leafs Contracts and Historical Documents from the Collection of Allan Stitt, I got the chance to give him a call and talk with him about something very few people do -- his one single game with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Long story short, J.P. was at the training camp of the Oakland Seals for their initial NHL campaign in the fall of 1967; he'd been claimed by the expansion team from the Bruins' organization. The camp was in London, Ontario.

By his own recollection, Parise played a bunch of exhibition games and was second on the team in scoring, after defenceman Kent Douglas. He expected to make the NHL for good after 21 games over two seasons with the Bruins, most of his ice time coming in the Central league with the Oklahoma City Blazers.

But he didn't count on his battles with Seals coach Bert Olmstead.

Here is Parise's take:

He was big on basic fundamentals of the game, back in those days -- stay on your wing, no rink-wide passes, and all those things. So we're in the third period, I'm on the ice, and we're leading 3-2. I've got the puck on our blueline, along the wall, and I see my right winger just exploding on the right side. So I make a rink-wide pass and sure enough it was intercepted in the middle of the ice. They guy kept coming towards me, and I nailed him and I got a penalty. I'm in the box and they score. Instead of being 4-2, it's 3-3. And Mr. Olmstead was not very pleased, he was very angry. I go back to the bench and he's pacing, "Little frickin' frog...

I said, "Fuck you. I screwed up. I'm sorry about that, but that gives you no fuckin' right to start attacking my heritage." And he never responded. The next day at 8 o'clock, I got a knock on my door -- we're staying in London at the hotel, the Holiday Inn I think -- these are things I don't forget! Details that I don't forget! Lessons in life! He was informing me I had been traded to Rochester of the American League. So, for about four, five seconds of getting things off my chest and unloading, I just screwed up my life, my career, and my NHL salary and the whole thing.

Of course J.P. hadn't screwed up his NHL career, just delayed it.

In Rochester, coach Joe Crozier was a believer.

I go to Rochester, and now I'm totally depressed. My career is over, I'm 25 years old, and it's over. He called me into his office one day. He used to call me Johnny. He says, "Johnny, if you can only get out of this frickin' funk, you're in." I had a shitty attitude. He says, "If you get out of the frickin' funk that you're in, I'll have you back in the National Hockey League by Christmas." He put me on a line with old Bronco Horvath. Bronco and I clicked, and sure enough, just after Christmas I got a call from Joe. He says, "You know what I promised you last September has happened." I said, "What?" He said, "I've traded you to Minnesota North Stars. You're to meet the team in New York today." So I went to New York and played my first game with the North Stars and I remained in the National Hockey League for 12 years. And if someone called me a "little frickin' frog" I would say "Thank you very much." ... I got that message.

In between there, though, was a single game in Toronto for the Leafs -- who were associated with the Rochester Americans at the time and were shorthanded -- on November 15, 1967.

It was so wonderful. George Armstrong was the captain at the time. I went into the Toronto Maple Leafs locker room. Those guys made me feel like I belonged and had been there for 10 years. It was unbelievable.

I felt so comfortable, and they made me feel welcomed. I think I played with Dave Keon and Jim Pappin. These pretty good wingers for a young rookie.

After interviewing him in December 2013, I sent him copies of his file that Allan Stitt had gotten at some point; most of it was from the Minnesota North Stars files. It was quite the package, and I hope it brought back a few memories for him.

Thank you for sharing a few of your lesser-known tales, J.P. Rest in peace.

Viewed 1219 times

Go to top
Archives

Celebrating a Half Century of Recognition
Posted July 02, 2018

Team Identification. Can You Help?
Posted June 23, 2018

What's new with the old NHL stats?
Posted April 01, 2018

Unidentified Hockey Team
Posted January 23, 2018

2017 Members Hockey Pool in Support of Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer
Posted September 12, 2017

Silver, Gold and “Ding”
Posted August 19, 2017

Stats Not So Golden for Seals
Posted July 15, 2017

The Inaugural Season
Posted June 15, 2017

The “First” Stanley Cup Rings?
Posted May 30, 2017

Who Really Has the Record of Most Coaching Wins for the Boston Bruins?
Posted May 16, 2017

Alfred "Ralph" Winsor
Posted May 03, 2017

Mystery Player on a Mystery Team
Posted March 27, 2017

Scarce On-ice Photo of the Philadelphia Quakers
Posted December 17, 2016

Percentage of US players in the NHL - 1920 to 2016
Posted December 04, 2016

Pre-NHL Stanley Cup Challenge List
Posted November 17, 2015

The Fickle Finger of Fate
Posted March 08, 2015

Whose Mayor's Cup — RPI's or Union's?
Posted February 15, 2015

Hyperbolic Reporting in Hockey
Posted February 01, 2015

The Curse of the Maple Leafs
Posted January 18, 2015

Thoughts on J. P. Parise
Posted January 11, 2015

Watching the 1964 Olympic Hockey Final
Posted December 21, 2014

Two Great Events in Bracebridge Hockey History
Posted December 14, 2014

Two Great Events in Bracebridge Hockey History
Posted December 14, 2014

The French Canadian Rule
Posted November 30, 2014

Wasn’t That a Party!
Posted November 16, 2014

Shep Mayer
Posted November 11, 2014

Notes on the RPI-Union Route 7 Rivalry, Halloween Weekend 2014
Posted November 09, 2014

THE PUNISHMENT SHOULD FIT THE CRIME
Posted October 19, 2014

Sweeney Schriner And The Dangers Of Back-Checking
Posted October 05, 2014

AS IT HAPPENS - 50 YEARS AGO TODAY IN HOCKEY!!
Posted September 28, 2014

The Strangest Game
Posted September 21, 2014

Who's To Blame for the Free Angent Frenzy
Posted September 07, 2014

Dogs, Cats, Cups & Cars
Posted August 10, 2014

Entering Wally's World
Posted July 27, 2014

Lament for the Blockbuster Deal
Posted July 20, 2014

One Game Wondered
Posted July 13, 2014

Conn Smythe Gets One Wrong, Sort Of
Posted July 06, 2014

Kings-Rangers Stanley Cup Final Series at a Glance: Goals and Penalties
Posted June 29, 2014

How likely is it that a series will go to seven games if the teams are evenly matched?
Posted June 22, 2014

Are the Los Angeles Kings on their Way to Becoming the First Dynastic Team of the New Millennium?
Posted June 12, 2014