Zach Parise will hold the prestigious distinction of being captain of the United States hockey team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
USA Hockey announced the news in a press release:
Zach Parise (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Wild/University of North Dakota), who served as an alternate captain for the silver medal-winning 2010 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team, has been named captain of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team it was announced today by USA Hockey. Parise is in his second season as an alternate captain with the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild.
Unsurprisingly, the Minnesota Wild star was quite excited about the opportunity:
“I know a majority of the guys wear a letter with their own team and there are going to be plenty of guys capable of doing it,” Parise said.— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) January 31, 2014
More Parise: “I’m pretty humbled to be named the captain.” #mnwild— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) January 31, 2014
This appears to be a bit of a surprising selection considering he is only an alternate captain for his own NHL team. David Backes, Ryan Callahan and Dustin Brown were other possibilities as Team USA members who are also captains on their squads.
However, Parise was named the captain, with his Wild teammate, Ryan Suter, being selected as an alternate captain. Brown will be the other alternate captain at the Olympics.
The 29-year-old wing spent the first seven years of his career with the New Jersey Devils before moving to the Wild in 2012. This season he has 18 goals with 16 assists while helping his squad remain in contention for a playoff spot in the central division.
Head coach Dan Bylsma was happy about the selection, as he said, "Can't think of a better group, and can't think of a better captain to lead our team than Zach Parise," via Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
He also got into specifics via USA Hockey:
Bylsma - "Parise has work ethic that never quits, a determination to be hard to play against always, regardless of score or situation"— USA Hockey (@usahockey) January 31, 2014
Parise will look to replicate the leadership from 2010 captain Jamie Langenbrunner:
Parise on Jamie Langenbrunner - "He's the type of guy that's not overly vocal, but he plays hard and plays right way, leads by example."— USA Hockey (@usahockey) January 31, 2014
That squad earned a silver medal after losing to Canada in overtime at the gold medal game. This time around, the Americans will try to win the country's first gold medal in the sport since 1980.
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