Zach Parise said Monday he has been given “the green light” to make his season debut in the Wild’s game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.
The veteran winger was limited in training camp as he attempted to rest a back injury that had caused him to miss the 2016 playoffs. When that did not help, Parise elected to undergo microdiscectomy surgery in late October to repair a herniated disk and alleviate the corresponding pain and weakness.
“I’m really excited, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while,” said Parise, who had 19 goals and 42 points in 69 games last season. “It’s been a lot of work, but I’m glad to get a chance to play tomorrow.”
Parise is in the sixth season of a 13-year, $98-million free-agent contract he signed in July 2012. Parise has the ability to give the Wild a boost, if he is effective in his return. Minnesota, which was shutout 3-0 on Saturday in Nashville, has 43 points in 39 games and is one point behind Anaheim for the second and last wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Parise reportedly was paired with center Charlie Coyle and winger Chris Stewart on the Wild’s third line at Monday’s practice.
Parise’s return comes less than a week after he played in an American League Hockey game with Iowa to give his back a test. “(That) was really good for me and conditioning wise I felt really good today,” he said. “There was a lot of skating in the practice, so I feel ready.”
Despite the fact the 33-year-old Parise is about to begin his 13th season and is known for his willingness to grind things out in the corners and in front of the net, he said he was never concerned that his career might be in jeopardy.
“I was never worried that I wouldn’t be playing again,” Parise said. “I was very comfortable that I would be playing again and playing again this year. From the people I had spoken with that had had the surgery as well, guys that had played, I was comfortable and confident that everything was going to be fine.”