NEWARK - Kyle Okposo had a closer relationship with J.P. Parise than most current NHLers. Okposo attended Shattuck-St. Mary's High School in Minnesota, where Parise ran the school's well-known hockey program. Many future NHL players passed through the school, including Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Parise's son Zach.
J.P. Parise died on Wednesday night after a year-long battle with lung cancer.
"J.P. was a good man; I first met him when I went to Shattuck and I was 14," Okposo said. "He was a coach of mine and I developed a relationship with him over time in those years. He was someone I turned to when I needed some help, guidance or advice, and he's going to be missed."
Okposo and Zach Parise have been close friends since their days at Shattuck, working out among a group of Minnesota-based NHL players in numerous offseasons.
J.P. Parise got the ball rolling at Shattuck and had a connection with so many current stars who weren't even alive when Parise etched his name in Islanders lore with his series-winning overtime goal against the Rangers in the 1975 playoffs.
"I remember his coaching and how he got me going," Okposo said. "It made no difference if I was struggling in life or was down on myself; he always seemed to have the right things to say. He could always make me laugh, too."
Clutterbuck, Donovan out
Jack Capuano made a couple of lineup changes Friday night, putting Brian Strait in on defense for Matt Donovan and returning Josh Bailey to the lineup in place of Cal Clutterbuck, who sat out with an upper-body injury. Bailey had a goal in the Isles' 3-2 win over the Devils. Capuano is using the fact that he has a full complement of forwards to rest some banged-up players, Clutterbuck being the latest.