Almost two years have passed since Zach Parise signed with the Minnesota Wild, but Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is still sore about his departure and feels management could have done more to keep him in New Jersey.
"For sure," Brodeur told reporters before Thursday's game against the Wild. "When you know you have an athlete that is going to be a game-breaker, that is going to be one of the top players; rules are that free agency comes a lot younger than it used to. You have to make commitments. You look around the league, some of the young guys, like [Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven] Stamkos, they don't wait, they get them done."
Parise, who returns to New Jersey for the first time on Thursday night, signed with his hometown Wild for a 13-year, $98 million deal as an unrestricted free agent in July 2012. The deal came months after he led the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals.
"It affected our organization in a big way, losing him, and that's what the fans care about," Brodeur told reporters. "Us, we know it's part of the business. We had plenty of chances. We had two years to talk to him and try to figure out something. We waited and waited and it was too late."
Parise, drafted 17th overall by the Devils in 2003, is in his second season for the Wild. The 29-year-old is second on the team with 23 goals and 45 points. In seven seasons with the Devils, Parise scored 194 goals and 216 assists during the regular season, and he had 21 goals and 43 points in the playoffs.
He told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday that he's not sure how fans will react when he returns to Prudential Center wearing another team's sweater.
"I'm guessing some mixed reviews," Parise said. "I don't know, though. I've said it before: What's important to me is how good I was treated when I was there.
"I understand sports. Fans love their players and their teams and they don't want to see players leave, but the part I'll remember most is how good they were to me when I was there and that's what matters."