One of the most fun things about Olympic hockey is having a fling with players whom I either don't see that often or players I do see but am now seeing in a different way. In the former group would go guys like Ryan Kesler and Bobby Ryan. In the latter group would go, above anyone else, Zach Parise. I've seen Parise play plenty of times of course, and I'm more than familiar with him thanks to being buddies with Devils fans Pookie and Schnookie of Interchangeable Parts. If you'd asked me three weeks ago how good Parise was, I would have said very good. But I don't know, he was still a total revelation to me. Above all else, I'm amazed at how hard he plays. He plays hard every single second of every single shift and I'm sure he'd take double the amount of shifts it was up to him.
I'm not sure what exactly it was about Zach Parise that made me think of Derek Roy. It could be that they're both pretty small in stature. It could be that they both wear number 9. But watching Parise made me think of Roy and let's just say Roy comes up pretty darn short (short! ha!) in that comparison.
More than almost any other player on the roster right now, I wanted Roy to be good. I really thought that of the core forwards (Roy, Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad, Thomas Vanek), he was going to be the heart of the team, the little spark plug that kept everyone going. I cut him a lot of slack even when other people were really starting to come down on him because I really, really felt he was going to be something special. I was excited we had him locked up, and I was even more excited we had him locked up at the price we did.
But he is so freaking lazy. I'm reluctant to criticize guys for not playing hard because I think it's easy for us to say that from the outside, but I'm sorry, he does not play hard. I think I've mentioned this before, but at one of the last game Kates and I were at, there was a brief fifteen seconds or so when Roy suddenly zipped across the ice. Those fifteen seconds were so noticeable because he hadn't hit that gear before in the game and he didn't hit that gear again the rest of the night. If he'd skate as hard as he did in that fifteen seconds for sixty minutes, we'd have Zach Parise because he has the talent. Instead we have well, Derek Roy.
Every second I spent watching Parise play like medals were going to be awarded at the end of his shift, I could feel myself getting more and more infuriated with Roy. Gaustad, Pominville, and Vanek all have their weaknesses, and maybe some of them aren't going to turn out to be what we thought they might be, but I really don't have an issue with their effort. I think they want to be the best they can, and I think it genuinely bothers them when they aren't. I think Roy is perfectly content to be pretty good at hockey and that's so frustrating because I think he could be very good at hockey, some nights maybe even great at hockey. I've said before, mostly in jest, that I'd like to punch Roy in the face, but I'm positive that had he walked through my living room during a U.S. hockey game, I would have tackled him to the ground and beat him to a pulp. How frustrating to watch a guy who could be one thing settle for being something else, something lesser. Why in the world would you want to be Derek Roy when you could be Zach Parise? Derek Roy's a punk ass bitch and Zach Parise is totally awesome!
I kid you not, last night I had a dream about Parise. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor, given two weeks to live, and hooked up to a respirator. But he still suited up for the Devils and he still busted his ass. Clearly even my subconscious is being eaten alive by this. For a long time I would have included Roy on the list of Sabres untouchables. Now he's the guy I hope is traded most. Preferably for Zach Parise. Hey, like I said, they're both small, they both wear number 9. I'll bet the Devils wouldn't even notice.