Coach Bruce Boudreau had a variety of reasons why it was good Zach Parise was back skating with the Wild during his recovery from back surgery.
"When you’re not around the team, you lose your mind," Boudreau said. "There’s only so much you can do at home. Your wife wants to kill you, by the way, from experience. So to get around the guys is great for them. It’s great for the team to have them. You know, some teams didn’t like to have guys that were injured anywhere near the guys. Zach’s a great teammate and leader, so we like him to be around us."
Parise, not yet cleared for full contact, said "there's still quite a bit of ways to go," in terms of his comeback. The 33-year-old winger had microdiscectomy surgery on Oct. 24 after missing most of training camp and all of the beginning of the season. His initial recovery time was eight to 10 weeks.
"I think the next point is getting contact," Parise said, speaking after practice Friday at Xcel Energy Center for the last time until doctors clear him to play. "Along with that, it's more building up the endurance and the conditioning part of it. You add in the physical element, and that's a whole different side of conditioning that I think people don't really understand how hard that part is, just adding that part of the game. That's the next point that we'll get to. Hopefully, that'll be maybe on the trip or right after the trip."
The Wild embark on a four-game road trip starting Sunday, after facing Edmonton at home 1 p.m. Saturday. Parise said he is looking forward to more team time now that he's nearing full strength.
And physically, it's been pretty easy, too.
"There hasn't been any uncomfortable moments," Parise said. "There hasn't been any scary things that have happened. It's all been good. I think I've come a long way since the first time I was on the ice. It's kind of almost baby steps. Just a little over a week-and-a-half, I think it's been really good progress.
"There were times, especially right away, that I was kind of expecting to get a shot of pain, and it didn't happen. That's a good thing," Parise said. "Again, as you get more and more comfortable on the ice with those things, you feel like you can evolve more, you get more excited to do more things. Again, that's kind of the progress of the recovery. It was slow at first, but I still understand that I can't rush it."
The team has been on a pretty decent roll recently without him, currently sitting in the wild card spot at 17-11-3, but Parise said having him back around is maybe just a good change of pace.
"I guess it's fun to throw a different face into the mix," he said. "And for me personally, to be in the room and be a part of the inside jokes and internal jabs back and forth. That's a fun part of our sport.
"It's nice to be back in the room."
Everyone skated Friday at Xcel Energy Center minus goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who is still out with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who could possibly return from his groin injury this weekend, participated in full.
Here were the lines:
Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund
Jason Zucker, Eric Staal, Zack Mitchell
Joel Erikkson Ek/Marcus Foligno, Matt Cullen, Charlie Coyle
Tyler Ennis, Daniel Winnik, Chris Stewart