Two days after the death of his father, J.P., Wild winger Zach Parise was back with his teammates for a Friday practice at Xcel Energy Center. Afterward, he said plans to play in Saturday's game against Nashville and will accompany the Wild on a three-game road trip that begins Sunday.
J.P. Parise died Wednesday night of lung cancer at age 73. Zach missed the Wild's past two games, Tuesday against San Jose and Thursday against Chicago, to remain at his side. Friday, Zach joked that his dad "probably would have been mad'' that he stayed away from the rink, and he said it was important to his healing to return.
Zach said the timing isn't ideal for a road trip to Chicago, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, but his brother Jordan will be at home with his mother, Donna.
"Not only the last few days, but the last month has been really hard,'' Parise said. "Last night, I was watching the game, and finally my wife told me, 'You have to go to the rink. You have to go and practice and get away and try and get back into the groove of things.'
"You can sit at home and sulk. But I know my dad probably would have been mad at me for skipping the San Jose game, and he probably would have been mad at me for not playing last night, too. So it was important for me to get back.''
Parise said his family has been wrapped in support from the hockey community inside and outside Minnesota. It has been "amazing'' and "incredible,'' he said, to hear about the impact J.P. Parise had on so many people.
When asked whether there would be a public memorial, Parise said the family is planning a funeral for next Friday, Jan. 16.
In other news Friday: Coach Mike Yeo said goalie Darcy Kuemper won't play in at least the next three games. Kuemper is sidelined by a lower-body injury, and neither he nor defenseman Marco Scandella (upper body) has been cleared to practice. Kuemper will definitely sit out against Nashville on Saturday, Chicago on Sunday and Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Scandella is day-to-day, so he could be back sooner.
The Wild also reassigned defenseman Stu Bickel to Iowa on Friday.
With Parise returning, Yeo said he would not split the Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville line. He will do some other shuffling to get Parise back in. "The last couple games, that line has been too good to break up,'' Yeo said. "We'll see if Zach coming in can strengthen one of the other lines and we can keep that line going the same. We would be a better team for that.''
The Wild held a short, businesslike, 30-minute practice Friday after Thursday's 4-2 loss to Chicago, a game that Yeo said looked good on film.
"That was arguably one of the best games we've played in the past couple of months, in terms of the way the game is supposed to look, how we were pressuring the puck, how we were creating turnovers and taking away time and space,'' he said. "It will be a good challenge to see if we can bring that again tomorrow.
"We've got a little bit of a condensed schedule, with three games in four days here. When we're playing our best game, it takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of effort. But that was the thing I was most pleased with (Thursday). The effort looked the way it's supposed to. That said, we didn’t win, and I talked about it yesterday. We need wins right now. But the wins will come if we keep bringing the right work ethic, the right attitude every day."