For most of his career in hockey, J.P Parise was an underrated player who took pride in the aspects of the game that had less to do with the score sheet and everything to do with digging pucks out of the corners. He was a smallish winger who made up for his shortness with a deceptive strength that he channeled, in its full force, onto the bodies of his opponents as he consistently out-dueled them for loose pucks.
Parise first gained fame with the Niagara Falls Flyers of the OHA in 1961-62. Under the strict and disciplined guise of coach Hap Emms, he learned to play the NHL way, up and down his wing in solid, two-way fashion.
During those days, the robust winger entertained little hope of cracking the NHL's tiny echelon of players at the top. Nonetheless, he remained steadfastly committed to his game of bulling, pushing, forcing mistakes, and outworking his opponents.
Parise turned pro in 1962 and embarked on a lengthy stint on the fringe of the NHL. Over the six seasons that followed, he picked up a handful of games with the Bruins and Leafs, but otherwise spent most of his time in the EPHL, CHL, and AHL.
While toiling with the Rochester Americans in December 1967, the big-league doors swung wide open as his rights were secured by the Minnesota North Stars. In Minneapolis, Parise found the perfect venue for his defensively sound, two-way game. He became known as the four-wheeled drive of the Stars' attack. He joined Jude Drouin and Bill Goldsworthy on a line that brought credibility to the club's attack up front.
Over the next seven-and-a-half years, Parise hustled as a popular but unsung type who carried his pick, shovel and lunch pail to work each night to dig for pucks and to score clutch goals from time to time.
His working-class anonymity quickly dissolved, however, when he was selected as a checking specialist for Team Canada during the Summit Series of 1972. He joined Wayne Cashman and Phil Esposito as the designated corner man assigned to feed pucks to goal-crease resident Esposito.
Parise remained in the thick of the battle right up until the fourth minute of the eighth game. At that time, he laid a check on Russian forward Alexander Maltsev. Maltsev had just passed the puck a split second before Parise made contact. The referee called Parise for an interference penalty. The winger was incensed with the call and used harsh language to reinforce his point. A 10-minute misconduct followed that raised Parise's ire to a full-flamed conflagration. He raised his stick up to shoulder height, skated towards the referee and made a believable swing that appeared en route to decapitate the started official who must have been momentarily absorbed in his final prayers. Parise, however, still in control of his intentions, stopped the stick just inches shy of the referee's quivering head. The gesture brought on Parise's expulsion from the game. He felt badly for having lost his cool, but speculates that his actions put enough fear into the officials that from that point until the Canadians completed the series, there were no more questionable calls made against Team Canada.
In 1975, Parise was traded to the New York Islanders where he played his usual game of hustle and dig for about three seasons before winding his career down with brief stints in Cleveland and again in Minnesota.
He hung up his bladed for keeps in 1979, to work as the Stars' assistant coach for a number of years.