Every now and then, Mark Parrish will be sitting around with his Wild fanatic buddies when the topic circles to what General Manager Chuck Fletcher should do to bring the team to the next level.
“Everybody’s got the right player that Chuck needs to sign to bring the Cup here. They’ll be talking about the cap space needed, and inevitably one of them will go, ‘Hey, we still paying you?’ ” Parrish laughed.
Well, not anymore. The last paycheck from Parrish’s buyout six years ago has cleared.
“It comes with sort of a relief and sort of a tear in my eye,” said Parrish, the former Bloomington Jefferson and St. Cloud State star and 12-year NHLer. “I am relieved to hopefully not get any more random buyout comments.”
Parrish signed a five-year, $13.25 million with his hometown Wild in 2006. Two years later, after scoring 35 goals and 69 points in 142 games, Parrish was blindsided when then-GM Doug Risebrough bought him out of the final three years of the deal. Two-thirds could be spread over double the length of the remaining contract, so for the past six years, Parrish received a little more than $927,000 per year — a total of a little less than $5.6 million.
“Given the choice, it would have never happened,” Parrish said. “I would have loved to finish off my playing time here and gone out the way 99.9 percent of all players would like. But the reality of it is, for the majority of us, it just doesn’t happen. A lot of times it’s just kind of abrupt. It stung.”
“That being said,” Parrish said, with a big laugh, “it was nice to have a little, how shall I say it, severance package.”
Parrish, 37, is the TV analyst for St. Cloud State men’s hockey home games and has returned to school. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Parrish drives from Plymouth to St. Cloud for class.
“Got my Intro to Psychology done. Somehow after 18 years, all my credits carried over. I don’t know how,” Parrish said. “Even the adviser I got assigned to, he was just dumbfounded.”
Parrish added with a chuckle, “I’m amazed my ‘Orientation to Camping’ credits held on for 18 years. That really was a class.”
Parrish comes from a family of educators, and he is interested in coaching and sports psychology.
“Every coach I’ve ever had made the joke that they’re part psychologist, so I just noted it,” he said. “It’s been a blast being part of St. Cloud again.”
Asked what he thinks Fletcher should do with the suddenly freed-up $927,778 in cap space, Parrish joked: “Defense. Definitely defense.”
Juggling Granlund, Haula
Coach Mike Yeo said if Mikael Granlund can return for Game 1 of the Colorado playoff series, he will take his spot back as No. 2 center. That means Erik Haula (seven points in his past seven games) would move to the third or fourth line.
“I think that Haulzy deserves an awful lot of credit,” Yeo said. “But when it comes to Granny, we’ll see how practice goes this week, but we are talking about a guy who led our team when Mikko [Koivu] went down playing against No. 1 D pairings and No. 1 centermen. You look at what he did in the Olympics playing against the best players in the world … this is a pretty good player.”
Rocky Mountain high
The Wild changed its practice schedule so that players can practice in Denver on Wednesday and get accustomed to the altitude.
“It’s a tough place to play with the altitude if you get caught out there, kind of like Pross did,” joked defenseman Ryan Suter, a reference to Nate Prosser being recorded with the second-longest shift length of the NHL season Thursday against St. Louis (4 minutes, 47 seconds).
That shift by Prosser technically wasn’t in succession. It included a goal against, a penalty, T.J. Oshie’s injury and a TV timeout.
“Still, I got back to the bench, and was like, I need a few shifts off to relax. My lungs burned,” Prosser said, smiling.
Suter, who led the NHL by averaging 29 minutes, 24 seconds per game, logged 2,411 minutes, 54 seconds of ice time this season, the most in the NHL since the Rangers’ Brian Leetch did 2,449:19 in 1998-99.
• The local TV schedule for the Wild’s opening round of the playoffs should be announced Tuesday.