CHICAGO – Standing in the corridor of the visiting NBA locker room inside United Center before the Wild’s game against the Blackhawks on Sunday night, Zach Parise talked about how hard it is to be away from his mom, brother and other family members.
Less than four days after the death of his dad, J.P., Parise is along for the Wild’s three-game road trip. However, as torturous as it is be gone from Minnesota, he said it has been made easier because of the support he has received from the Wild.
“It’s tough to be away from family,” Parise said. “At the same time, you have your two different support groups. You have your team and you have your family, but it’s hard to be away.
“But these guys have been awesome. A lot of hugs when I first got back. Guys have been really good. It’s not something they want to bring up, but a lot of the guys have been, ‘Hey, if you want to talk about it, we’re here.’ That means a lot.”
A celebration of J.P. Parise’s life will be at the Colonial Church of Edina at 3 p.m. Friday. Visitation begins at 1 p.m. Parise and the rest of the Wild will return from Buffalo in the wee hours of Friday morning and the entire team plans to attend the service.
J.P. Parise’s paid obituary in Sunday’s Star Tribune was addressed “Dear Dad” from Jordan and Zach Parise. It noted how the family “watched you put together the fight of your life, but the burden was too great for one person to bear. You will be forever missed and never forgotten.
“As young boys, the simplest tickle, beard rub, and wrestling match ensured us that we were never alone. With mom, a daily hug and kiss confirmed that it was going to be another great day. You knew that it was the simple things in life that mattered most. As time went on and we became men, we began to recognize the astounding impact that you had on other people.”
One of the most aggravating things about watching the Wild during its seven-week skid has been horrible execution on odd-man rushes. The Wild does a terrific job transitioning after forcing turnovers, but multiple times per game, the Wild won’t even register a shot on goal off a 2-on-1 or 3-on-2.
In Saturday’s loss to Nashville, Thomas Vanek, signed to score goals, tried to pass to Parise on a breakaway. The pass didn’t connect and the Predators countered the other way.
“I think we probably all know why he passed to Zach in that situation,” coach Mike Yeo said Sunday. “I think he wanted Zach to score in a meaningful game.”
But Yeo said, “It’s a problem. It’s a problem because we’re almost being too selfless. Some of that is we care about our teammates, we’re trying to set them up. But we have to understand that we have to shoot in those situations. I think we do lose momentum from those situations. It’s a little bit frustrating, demoralizing on the bench when you see a situation where you’ve got an opportunity to have a really good scoring chance and then we pass to somebody and then we don’t even get a shot on net.”
Lineup in flux
Yeo scratched winger Jordan Schroeder, who had seven shots two games prior against the Blackhawks, and defenseman Justin Falk on Sunday. Winger Justin Fontaine drew back in, as well as defenseman Jon Blum.
“That’s what happens when you’re losing games,” Yeo said. “You’re trying to find all solutions. We’ve done a lot more tinkering with our lineup lately than we would like to do.”