LOS ANGELES — There have been whispers over the past couple of seasons about whether or not right wing Scott Parse would ever be able to make it to the National Hockey League.
Having been an offensive threat at every level, Parse was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the sixth round (174th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He played in four seasons with the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he was their all-time scoring leader with 79 goals with 118 assists for 197 points in 159 games. Parse led the team in scoring in each season and was named the team’s most valuable player in all four seasons.
In 2007-08, Parse played in fourteen games with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League (Kings’ primary minor league affiliate), contributing three assists. He also played in eighteen games with the Reading Royals of the ECHL, a Kings’ affiliate at the time, scoring five goals with eleven assists for sixteen points. Parse also had a brief stint late in the 2006-07 season with the Grand Rapid Griffins of the AHL that season, scoring two goals and adding five assists for seven points in ten regular season games. He also appeared in seven playoff games, scoring one goal.
Last season, the 5-11, 197-pound native of Portage, Michigan scored fifteen goals and added 24 assists for 39 points with a +6 plus/minus rating and 38 penalty minutes in 74 games with the Monarchs, earning a one-year contract from the Kings, who signed him on July 9, 2009.
But even after a good season with the Monarchs last year, Parse was not on the radar of the Kings management and coaching staff for their big club roster. To make matters worse, he failed to make an impression during the Kings’ 2009 training camp and was assigned back to Manchester on September 20, 2009, just one week after training camp began.
Apparently, that was when something clicked.
Indeed, Parse went down to Manchester and played determined hockey. An opportunity came quickly as injuries and sub-par play hit the Kings’ roster, so they came calling for Parse on October 23.
At the time of his recall, Parse was leading the Monarchs in scoring with eleven points on two goals and nine assists.
“I just went down there and worked hard,” said Parse, 25. “I had to really step up and play well in Manchester. I knew I would be one of the guys who would be looked to to be a top player there. I had a good start to the year and was happy to be called up.”
Once he donned the Kings sweater for the first time as an NHL player, Parse easily fit right in, playing on a line with center Jarret Stoll and winger Teddy Purcell. And in his first game on October 24, a 5-3 win at Phoenix, Parse was a key figure, contributing an assist for his first NHL point. He also more than held his own defensively and in physical battles.
Parse repeated that strong performance on October 25 in a 6-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, adding another big assist on a goal by Stoll.
“He made a great play last night on a goal in Phoenix and again here tonight,” said Kings head coach Terry Murray after the win over the Blue Jackets. “That was a great pass to Stoll. You have to have a special kind of talent to be able to make that kind of quick, heads-up play.”
“I think [the first two games] went pretty well,” said Parse. “It’s obviously a lot faster than the American Hockey League, but I just tried to not make mistakes and [Stoll] really helped me out through these two games. It’s been really fun. It’s a dream come true. This is the big leagues.”
Four days later, Parse put in another solid effort in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks. In that game, Parse scored the lone Kings’ goal, his first in the NHL.
“Your hockey instincts take over,” Parse said about the scoring play. “Teddy [Purcell] laid it out there really nice and I just let her go. It was special. You play your whole life to make it here. It was pretty fun.”
“Parse played well again tonight,” Murray noted. “They had a couple of opportunities last night and weren’t able to finish. I’m glad he finally found the back of the net.”
Although Parse’s goal and two assists for three points in five games is not exactly lighting up the league, he has been rather impressive, given that no one thought he would be with the big club at this point in the season, if ever.
That might include his head coach.
“Parse has been really good,” he said. “He’s surprising the heck out of me.”
“I didn’t even play him in an exhibition game. How smart am I,” Murray asked with a grin. “He’s come up here and he’s doing a great job fitting in. He’s really playing hard, heavy. He’s taken hits, he’s making hits, and, as I said, he’s playing very intelligently. I like what I’m seeing.”
“In the games he’s played, he’s done a good job. He’s been smart, he’s made plays, he’s pretty responsible without the puck. It’s good to see.”
Murray said that Parse obviously felt he had to do more to prove himself after being sent back to Manchester in September.
“He’s smart, he plays, he reads, he scans the ice, he makes good decisions,” Murray explained. “He’s always had good puck skills, we know that. You take a look at his resume through the time he came to the LA Kings as a draft pick. He’s got an outstanding resume on the offensive part of it. He was an all-star player.”
“It takes time to figure out,” Murray emphasized. “I think when [he went] back down to the minors this year after not getting that opportunity, maybe he’s thinking, ‘hey, I’ve got to prove some things to some people.’”
Parse still has a ways to go before becoming a proven NHL player. But he seems to know what he has to do to keep himself moving forward.
“Just be strong on the puck, be strong on [my] stick, be strong in battles,” said Parse. “That’s what I’m trying to do. If I get a few more games here, my confidence will build and I think I’ll keep improving.”
Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.