Shortly after ex-Devils captain Zach Parise inked a 13-year, $98 million deal with the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello spoke with the media about what the future has in store.
Or, more specifically, what it doesn’t.
“You don’t replace a Zach Parise. You just don’t do that,” Lamoriello said. “So we will have to make some adjustments and make some transactions if possible. But we will not turn our heads and not go forward with reference to getting this team to where we feel it should be every year.”
Lamoriello likened the departure to Scott Niedermayer leaving the Devils after the 2003-04 season. Like Parise, Niedermayer was New Jersey’s captain at the time and regarded to be one of the prizes of free agency (he eventually signed in Anaheim, despite the Devils offering to make him the highest-paid player on the team.)
That said, money wasn’t an issue when it came to Parise’s offer.
“Yes, our offer was competitive. We did not, at any time, have a phone call that we needed to change it or that it had to go up. It was competitive,” the GM said. “There was never a talk about money after our initial meeting in Toronto, where we made our offer. The response was the money we offered would not be the issue.
“We did not get a return call saying the number had to go up. The decision, from what Zach told me, was based upon going home and playing with someone he grew up with. Going home was the real focus.”
Parise told Lamoriello if he didn’t “go home” to play in Minnesota, he would’ve stayed in New Jersey.
Small consolation for the general manager left to fill what’s considered an unfillable void.
“He was our captain. He was our leader, a prototype player,” Lamoriello said. “It’s a loss. That’s an understatement.”