Parise Named Devils' Captain

By Mark Everson The Devils put their house in the best order they could.

Nevertheless, they have yet to acquire a major center to fill the hole left by Travis Zajac's surgery, and failed to give someone such as Alexei Yashin a look. But they have made the right decisions with the not inconsiderable pieces they have.

Coach Pete DeBoer yesterday named Zach Parise captain, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias alternates. They signed Petr Sykora. They kept Brad Mills and Adam Henrique up front and Adam Larsson on defense. And they still have center Rod Pelley and defenseman Mark Fraser, each having cleared waivers, with defenseman Anton Stralman on hand as an unsigned, one-man taxi squad.

DeBoer took the high road in picking Parise, who could leave next summer as an unrestricted free agent. If the Devils want Parise to be their long-term captain, they had to give him the job now, or fail to show him the commitment they want him to show them.

"I'm assuming these guys are going to be here for a long time," DeBoer said. "Otherwise, I think you're compromising yourself."

Asked if being chosen captain encourages him to remain with New Jersey, Parise did not dither.

"Yes," he said. "I don't know how many times I have to say it. I like it here, and I want to stay here."

Parise, 27, becomes the ninth captain in team history, succeeding Jamie Langenbrunner. Both Elias (Devils) and Kovalchuk (Thrashers) have served as captains, so he will have experienced help in the locker room.

"Playing the game the right way and leading by example," Parise said would be his style. "It's not necessarily always vocal. When you feel things need to be said, then there's a time and a place for that. It's easy to lead and easy to be a captain when everyone is winning and things are good and everyone is having a good time.

"But it's important when things aren't great, to maintain that level, not let your game change and still lead by example on the ice."

Sykora accepted general manager Lou Lamoriello's low-ball offer of $650,000, and did not allow that indignity dim his smile.

"I'm emotionally drained today," said Sykora, who received the No. 15 uniform left vacant by the trade of David Steckel to Toronto Tuesday. "The last couple of days, I didn't get much sleep. When you don't get the offer, you never know what's going to happen.

"It was a long shot before I got here. But I believed."


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