NHL Free Agent Rumors: Zach Parise Is Smart to Take Time Before Deciding

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 09:  Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck against Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils during Game Five of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center on June 9, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Blue-collar captain Zach Parise has the NHL world watching. He was expected to announce his future whereabouts on Monday but, according to The Sporting News, Parise has no timetable for his decision.

Several teams are still in the hunt. NBCsports.com cited the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings as interested teams on June 30. 

For teams like the Red Wings, Wild, Devils, and Kings who are believed to also be in on Parise, the bar is set for them to dive in head first to go after the New Jersey captain.

The bar is set high because of the huge contract Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the Penguins were ready to offer the Devil captain.

Hearing don't look for huge front loaded or bonus offer from #pens but expect many years and btwn $7-8 M on #PariseWatch offer Sunday

— Rob Rossi (@RobRossi_Trib) June 30, 2012

Since June 30, things have changed again. The Chicago Blackhawks are believed to be in the hunt, and there's no mention of the Stanley Cup champion Kings anywhere. 

Sounds confusing, doesn't it? 

The Minnesota native is being pulled from all ends. Different teams have their pluses and their minuses, yet people are acting like raving lunatics as they await his decision. I can't log onto Twitter without seeing an obscene amount of Parise-directed rants and hashtags. 

I think everyone outside of Parise's direct family, his agent and his closest friends have no idea what this really does to a player. We aren't talking about a short-term, low-budget deal.

We are talking about the last major contract Parise is going to get in his entire NHL career. This is it. If he makes the wrong choice he will regret it for a very long time.

He would be a little off kilter if he didn't take his time on this one. Making an emotional decision is fine for a young star, but Parise is a veteran in the middle of his prime. He isn't going to get this chance again, and it's not like these are "dud" teams.

Parise is coveted by the upper-echelon of the NHL. He's an elite free agent in an otherwise so-so crop of available forwards. 

Some seem to think that Parise is seeking attention by making this last, and maybe he is, but he doesn't strike me as a Dwight Howard or a LeBron James. Parise has been a grounded presence on, and off, the ice for his entire career. I think he's having a tough time processing all of this.

Parise has a chance to go back home to Minnesota, show loyalty to the Devils, join Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh or shock the world by joining the Blackhawks. Every choice has an upside too it, and it's own unique pull.

He would be remiss if he didn't over-analyze this choice. He owes it too himself because he's earned it. 

It's tough to stay patient as a hungry NHL fan, but we shouldn't take it personally. Parise is making a decision that will impact the next 8-10 years of his life with one swoop of the pen.

That can't be easy.