Independence Day was not a fun day for us Devils fans. The Devils team captain, fan favorite, and (arguably) best player walked out the door for
greener colder pastures in Minnesota. After a great seven season run for the team who drafted him, Zach Parise is a Devil no more.
Reactions to the departure have been very mixed among fans. They range from extreme anger (f%#@ him!), to stunned disappointment (I can't believe he's gone!), to detached acceptance (whatever, life goes on), to polite, forced happiness (I'm happy for him! All the best, Zach :) :) :) :)!). All of these are perfectly acceptable reactions. I've experienced all of them over the past 24 hours. But here's where I have landed after this emotional rollercoaster:
Now, it's not rage that I'm feeling. In the end, he could have chosen much worse places to leave NJ for (Pittsburgh, Philly, Detroit, etc.). He's in the Western Conference, so we won't be forced to see him more than two times a year. I don't wish ill upon him or anything like that; it's just a game, after all. I just don't like him anymore and hope the rest of his hockey career goes horribly.
Lots of people have been saying we shouldn't be mad and chiming in with reactions like "I'm happy that he gets to be with his family," "Wouldn't you want to go home too?" "He's not disloyal, he's just being loyal to his family." Bull. You know who has to be happy that he moved home to be with his family? His family. End of list. While it's his right to choose where he wants to live and work, I don't have to be happy about said choice, nor should any Devils fan.
Allow me to phrase this in the form of a clumsy metaphor: Let's say you meet a divorcee, and they have a couple kids with their ex-spouse. You fall in love, you get married, you start a life together. You think things are going well when all of a sudden, the ex comes calling to get the family back together. Your significant other leaves you and you're out on your ass. Maybe they're a happy family again, but your life is in disarray. Would you be happy about that? Should you be? There's two sides to every story and unfortunately we are the losers in this one.
Also, don't even get me started on the whole "playing with my best buddy Ryan Suter" angle. They've been texting each other about playing together all year? Oh yeah, conspiring to team up with a friend to play elsewhere just screams "I'm loyal to the organization."
The funny thing about loyalty is that it doesn't exist in a vacuum. Just because a real life decision he made is understandable in the real world, doesn't mean I can't be angry about it in the "fan" world.
Being a sports fan is inherently irrational. It's vicarious living. All of the things we say and do here have no real effect on the games, but we spend our hours watching and discussing them because, on some level, they bring us joy. While looking at things as a person who has his own life, friends, and family, I respect the decision Zach made. I can't say what I would do in his position; maybe I'd go home too. Again, as a sports fan though, he screwed me. In this little hockey world I choose to spend my time in, he left the team I love in the lurch after saying he had every intention of trying to stay in NJ. But in retrospect, it seems like he didn't want to stick around, he just didn't have the balls to admit it until July 4th, 2012.
Zach Parise brought the sports fans in us a lot of joy over the years, and for that we should always be thankful. But now he has turned his back on us, leaving to live out the rest of his hockey days in front of some other fanbase. For that, the Devils fan in me will never forgive him.