ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Zach Parise was enjoying a smooth summer of training, eager for a rebound following a trying season, when he experienced a frustrating setback a couple of weeks before training camp began.
“It just kind of came out of nowhere,” Parise said. “I was really surprised.”
Finally, after the roller coaster of rehabilitation and too many solo skates for his liking, Parise has rejoined the Wild for practice. He completed the entire workout Monday, including some grueling sprint drills at the end. This time, he hoped, for good. After skating with the team a few times last month, his undisclosed problem would flare up again, forcing him to take a break from the ice.
Parise stayed in Minnesota while the Wild lost twice on the road last week to start the 2017-18 schedule, in regulation at Detroit and in a shootout at Carolina. They don’t play again until Thursday at Chicago, with the home opener looming Saturday against Columbus. Neither Parise nor coach Bruce Boudreau would commit to a target date for game action.
“He’s going to be the one, with the trainers and the doctors, going to be saying, ‘Hey, I’m ready to play,'” Boudreau said. “Not me.”
The 33-year-old left wing expressed a desire to continue being cautious with the next step.
“I like to feel good going into the season and not being worried about an injury,” Parise said.
According to multiple reports last month, Parise was hampered by back trouble. He said Monday, however, that his injury was not to his back. He declined to be specific when asked further about the ailment.
“It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s always tough,” he said, adding: “You want to make sure you’re getting back to feeling normal and able to do things that you know you’re capable of doing and should be able to do, and I think that was just holding me back a little bit.”
Parise, who missed the Wild’s playoff series after the 2015-16 season because of a back injury, had 19 goals and 23 assists in 69 games in 2016-17, his lowest goals and points total in a non-lockout schedule since his rookie year with New Jersey. The last time he played a full season was the 48-game slate in 2012-13 after the lockout. Last year, most of his time missed was due to illness, not injury, but he was one of the few Wild forwards who didn’t have a productive regular season in the team’s first year under Boudreau.
Still, he remains an integral part of the offense.
“It totally was nice to see him out there,” right wing Charlie Coyle said. “He’s been part of our team. Everyone knows that.”
Missing from the ice Monday was right wing Mikael Granlund, who played in the season opener but missed the second game because of a groin injury. Boudreau said he believes the absence will be short term.
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