1:45 pm – Ever since July 30, when the Minnesota Wild bought out the final three years of his contract, Mark Parrish heard it all from friends and advisors:
“Be patient. In a league where scoring’s at a premium, you’ll have your pick of teams.”
“Whatever you do, don’t sign a deal in Europe when you know an NHL deal is bound to come up.”
“The last thing you need to do is go back to the minors. Even if it means sitting out camp, wait for the right deal from an NHL team.”
So Parrish, the 31-year old former Islander, waited – until he practically lost his mind.
“You know me, I can’t sit still for very long,” Parrish told Point Blank this afternoon. “I was getting all this advice, all well-meaning advice, but it didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t getting any offers. There have been some days when I was just going nuts not being able to play hockey…anywhere.
“But look, it wasn’t like I was feeling sorry for myself. I was just frustrated. There are a lot of pretty good players with NHL resumes who are having trouble getting back in. Who am I to act like I was owed anything”?
Parrish’s 25-game contract is with Bridgeport of the AHL, so the Islanders do not owe him anything, nor have they made him any promises about an NHL job. What they have done is given an old friend, an honest worker and accessible personality his first time here, the chance to get back on his feet. It could be with the Islanders. It could be with any of 30 NHL teams.
“It was funny. I looked at a few options and decided Bridgeport was the best opportunity,” Parrish said today. “I spoke with Garth Snow. He said, ‘Why don’t you take a night and sleep on it.’? I tell ya, there wasn’t any sleeping that night. I just want to get back to playing hockey. We called him the next morning and said, ‘Let’s do this’ and ‘Thanks.’
“I know the organization. It’s where I had some of my best years. Ownership was great to me and I left on really friendly terms with the team. The fans were tremendous to me. (Sound Tigers coach) Jack Capuano is direct and fair. I know Cappy from when he was an assistant with the Islanders. He knows I’m going to be a good teammate to all of his prospects in Bridgeport.
“It got to the point where I was so tired of hearing ‘You don’t have to do this’ and ‘You don’t have to do that’ to get back into the NHL. I’m a hockey player. I’m dying to play hockey. And now I get to do it with an organization that always treated me and my family first-class. I’m really grateful.”
12:55 pm – Scott Gordon on whether news like the Mark Parrish AHL tryout deal (see below) has any effect on the Islanders’ stated vision to rebuild:
“The younger players always have to earn it, they have to deserve it, they have to perform,” said Gordon. “The onus is on the younger players to make sure no one takes their job.
“If everything is equal, we’re better served with the younger player. There’s more room for growth and development. We’re not going to trade an apple for an apple.”
12:38 pm – Former Islanders right wing Mark Parrish has agreed to a tryout contract with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. The Sound Tigers are the Islanders’ top minor league affiliate.
Parrish, whose deal is for a 25-game tryout, is expected to start practicing with Bridgeport next Tuesday after passing a physical. A friend of Parrish’s told Point Blank that he’s “ecstatic” to have the opportunity in an organization where “he loved to play and today still has a strong relationship with Garth Snow and many of the players.”
Prior to this season, the popular ex-Isle was bought out of his long-term deal with his home-state Minnesota Wild. According to a source, he considered offers in Europe before deciding to re-boot his NHL career with some time in the AHL.
At this point it would be inaccurate to consider Parrish an Islander-in-waiting. This is a veteran player with close ties to the organization who needed a place to play, and the Islanders were happy to provide it. As a 25-gamer with Bridgeport, Parrish can still sign later on with any franchise that wants him at the NHL level.