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Potential free agent Parise gives a definite 'no' to a Rangers deal

Captain Devil wants to stay

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NEWARK, N.J. -- With free agency looming in less than three weeks, New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise has crossed the rival Rangers off his list of potential future employers.

Meeting with the media for the first time since New Jersey lost the Stanley Cup in six games to the Los Angeles Kings two days ago, the 27-year-old Parise reiterated that he would like to continue playing for the Devils and would even consider signing before free agency starts ion July if the deal is right.

Asked if he'd play for the Rangers, a team New Jersey defeated in the post-season, he was short and simple: "No."

"Don't try to get a headline out of this," Parise quipped Wednesday as the Devils cleaned out their lockers at the Prudential Center.

Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said re-signing Parise, who earned in excess of $5 million last season, would be a priority for the Eastern Conference champions.

Lamoriello also said it would be up to goaltender Martin Brodeur to decide whether he wants to return next season. If the 40-year-old is up for a 19th season, and he has indicated he is, the team will have a new contract for him.

Brodeur wants to talk to his family before deciding to return. Despite not winning the Cup for a fourth time, he said this was an unbelievable season and he was happy with the team and his own play. He jokingly said the only thing that might change his mind would be playing three rounds of par golf before July 1.

Lamoriello will be busy in the off-season on the free-agent market. In addition to Parise and Brodeur, defencemen Bryce Salvador, Peter Harrold and Mark Fayne (restricted), backup goaltender Johan Hedberg and forwards Petr Sykora, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Steve Bernier, Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter all need contracts.

Parise, called the heart of the Devils by coach Peter DeBoer, is the most important. Coming off a major knee injury that limited him to 13 games in 2010-11, he scored 31 goals in the regular season and added eight more in the post-season. He also was a penalty-killer and relentless two-way player.

Parise, who refused to discuss his upcoming free agency in the regular season, does not have a timetable for getting a new deal. He said he did not believe his agent, Wade Arnott, and Lamoriello had contract talks during the season.

Lamoriello refused to comment on talks with Parise. Arnott did not immediately answer an email from The Associated Press seeking comment on Parise's free agency.

"We're going to keep all that stuff between Lou and I, as we always have," Parise said. "I've said all along I love playing here. I've always appreciated everything that this organization has done for me. My feelings have never changed."

This is Parise's first go-around with free agency and he said he intends to listen to his agents and try to enjoy it. However, he added he will make the final decision and it all won't come down to money. It also will depend on being with a winner and getting along with a new coach and teammates if that is in the cards.

Parise often made comments during the season, as did most of his teammates, about how enjoyable an experience it was to work for DeBoer, who just finished his first season in New Jersey. That will play into the mix, as will the Devils' run to the Stanley Cup finals.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2012 C5

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