GRAND FORKS - Zach Parise is Captain America.
The former UND star will wear the 'C' on his jersey as captain of the U.S. Olympic team, the organization announced Friday afternoon.
"You're looking for players and people who embody who you are and how you want to play," Team USA coach Dan Bylsma said. "I can't think of a better captain than Zach Parise to lead our team."
Parise, who currently plays for the Minnesota Wild, served as an alternate captain with the American team during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The U.S. won silver.
This time, it's his turn to wear the 'C.'
Parise will be the second UND player to wear the 'C' at the Olympics. Bill Reichart served as co-captain with Herb Brooks in 1964.
Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown and Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will serve as the alternate captains for Team USA.
Former UND standout Jonathan Toews will serve as an alternate captain for Team Canada.
Parise said he received the call a few days ago from U.S. general manager David Poile as he was having lunch in Newport Beach, Calif., during the team's day off.
"I was pretty thrilled the other day to get that call from coach Bylsma," Parise said. "I am lucky enough to join a pretty elite list of players who have been captains of USA.
"It's a special thing to be named captain of any team. When it's a national team, an Olympic team, it's even more special."
Bylsma said the Americans had plenty of candidates including New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and St. Louis Blues captain David Backes. But Parise was the logical fit.
"Every time we played against Zach Parise, there has been a work ethic, a never quit, a determination, an abrasiveness about being hard to play against," Bylsma said. "It's every time. . . every time, regardless of the score and situation our teams might be in. That's what you see and that's what you get every time I've ever coached against Zach Parise. You flip on the television and you see it every game he plays. That's exactly how we want our team to play."
Parise led Team USA in both goals (four) and points (eight) at the 2010 Vancouver Games, scoring an extra-attacker, game-tying goal against Canada in the final to send it to overtime. Sidney Crosby eventually won it for the Canadians.
Jamie Langenbrunner, a former teammate of Parise's in New Jersey, was the U.S. captain in Vancouver.
Why Parise this time?
"We think we're a hard team to play against," Bylsma said. "We have a blue-collar mentality. Zach embodies that. Zach is that. He is that as a player. He is that as a person. That's why Zach Parise."
Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald