Wild winger Zach Parise said comments he made after the United States lost to Finland in the bronze medal game Saturday were misconstrued and not intended to criticize U.S. Olympic coach Dan Bylsma or the system of the Pittsburgh Penguins coach.
“His system didn’t have anything to do with why we didn’t win a medal,” Parise said in an e-mail Monday.
After the loss to Finland, Parise, who captained the United States, said the Americans would “forecheck with one guy” and were “passive” during two consecutive shutout losses to Canada and Finland.
Some media members interpreted those comments as Parise, upset he was returning home empty-handed, calling out Bylsma’s strategy.
“I never took a shot at Dan and I never would,” Parise said in the e-mail. “I said we were passive as a team, not playing a passive system. We seemed slow as a group that particular game [against Finland]. Dan did a great job coaching us and preparing us for all of the games, along with the other coaches. They put in a lot of work.
“He let us play and demanded us to work. He was always detailed in his approach and his meetings, and we were more than prepared from a scouting standpoint for each game.”
Parise, Finnish standout Mikael Granlund and American defenseman Ryan Suter returned to Minnesota on Sunday. The Wild gave the three players off until Wednesday, when the team is scheduled to fly to Edmonton for an afternoon practice, so they can get acclimated to the time zone.
Parise, Granlund and Suter are expected to be in the Wild’s lineup for back-to-back games Thursday and Friday in Edmonton and Vancouver.
Incidentally, Parise appeared to sustain a hand injury during the bronze-medal game (trainers were shown on TV taping one of his hands), but Parise says he is fine.
“I’m not sure what happened, but it was really hurting in that last game,” Parise said.
Winger Nino Niederreiter rejoined the Wild for Monday’s practice after returning from the Olympics. Switzerland was eliminated before the medal round, losing to Latvia 3-1 in the qualification round.
“I can’t describe what a feeling it is to be there and be part of the Olympics,” Niederreiter said. “I’ve had a couple days of rest, so it feels good to be back. Just the experience was worth so much. It was always a dream of mine to play in the Olympics.”
Niederreiter was disappointed not to go further, but Wild coach Mike Yeo said: “He represented his country very well, and I think both him and his country have better days ahead for sure. They’re both growing and he’s a big part of that program.
“I like the way that his game was an all-around game. We saw him killing penalties and doing things that he hasn’t had a chance to do here yet.”
• With Jason Zucker sidelined for the road trip because of a “minor” leg procedure, Erik Haula was recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League. Haula, who has played 25 games for Minnesota, scored five goals and five assists in seven games for Iowa during the Olympic break. “I was just trying to keep building on my confidence,” Haula said.
• The Wild also recalled Steve Kampfer to give the team six defensemen in practice. He is expected to return to Iowa on Tuesday or Wednesday.
• Defenseman Marco Scandella (sprained knee) skated on his own again Monday and might practice Tuesday.