I've not often come out and said this about many players that have come through the New Jersey Devils organization. Martin Brodeur. Scott Stevens. Scott Niedermayer. Ken Daneyko. John Madden. For a team that's been around since 1982, that's not that many.
But I would definitely put Zach Parise on that list. It's not just because Parise is a talented player. It's because he might be the hardest working Devil since Pat Conacher. I mean that kid has no fear of going into corners, taking on much larger players and often coming out with the puck. He's got speed, moves and talent, but the hard work is, to me, what makes him so special. There are plenty of players out there with a lot of skill (i.e. Viktor Kozlov, Stephane Richer types) but they never become what they can be because the work ethic on the ice just isn't there.
In a lot of ways, Parise is like a much more talented version of John Madden. By that I mean, no one works harder in hockey than Madden. Parise is all that but you can tell that he doesn't take any of those talents for granted. I'm also always really impressed at how Parise bounces back up so quickly after he takes a pounding.
Ultimately, I want Lou Lamoriello to sign Parise to a Alexei Yashin-type of contract. Seriously. I don't think I would've ever said that about anyone ever. But Parise is that kind of player. He can teach other guys with talent that hard work combined with whatever talent you have can make you something ridiculously special. Get it done, Lou. Don't take a chance of ever losing Parise. Ever. Please.