Wild's Parrish enduring a rocky return

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 4, 2006 - 10:38 PM

So far, Mark Parrish's Minnesota homecoming hasn't gone as planned. Goals, minutes and coach Jacques Lemaire's approval have been hard to come by for the NHL veteran.

Two months into the first season of Mark Parrish's tenure with his hometown Wild, it's clear the veteran winger is not in Jacques Lemaire's good graces.

Look no further than the six-time 20-goal scorer's ice time, which ranks behind 255 NHL forwards.

But Saturday night, Parrish managed to enter the coach's doghouse by actually scoring a goal.

In a bang-bang play minutes after Parrish set up Mikko Koivu for the go-ahead goal, Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco kicked out Parrish's goalmouth one-timer with a quick left pad.

However, replays later showed that what first looked like an extraordinary save by Turco actually would have been awarded a Parrish goal if the video goal judge had properly reviewed the play at the next stoppage.

Two NHL officials admitted as much in separate e-mails to the Star Tribune -- the Wild ultimately surrendered the tying goal and lost in a shootout.

But after Monday's practice, Lemaire cast the blame squarely on Parrish.

"He's the guy that I felt should have fought for that," Lemaire said. "Usually when you shoot the puck, you've got a hell of an idea it's going in or not. ... After the [game], I saw the replay, I said, 'How can you not know that there's a possibility that it went in?' ... As a shooter -- not if you get an elbow on your nose and you're missing two teeth -- but if you get nothing and nobody's around and you shoot, you should see where the puck goes."

Parrish said Monday that when the rebound flew past him, he was first concerned about retreating on defense.

"It happened so quick, but after the play, I went to the ref, 'Are you sure that didn't go in?' And he told me, 'They'll call down if it did.' What else can I do?" Parrish said. "To me, I made my point. I'm not a guy who will kick and scream. ... I have to put my trust in the refs and the NHL that the right call will be upheld.

"We have to move on. It's too late to worry about it now. To me, I should be focusing on [tonight's opponent] Chicago and not three days ago."

Big things were expected from Parrish, 29, a Bloomington native and former Jefferson High School and St. Cloud State star, when he signed a five-year, $13.25 million contract on the first day of free agency. But he has five goals in 26 games.

Of course, his average ice time of 13 minutes, 20 seconds a game ranks 256th among forwards and 457th overall. In last year's 29-goal season with the Islanders and Kings, Parrish averaged 18:32 a game. He always has been a streaky goal scorer, but it's hard to get on one of his signature streaks when he's sitting on the bench.

In three of the past nine games, even though the Wild is without injured scorers Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra, Parrish has played less than 10 minutes. Against Montreal, he played six. Saturday, Parrish logged 1:30 of ice time in the first period and 4:44 through two before seeing lots of ice during a strong third period.

"He needs to be more aggressive around the net," assistant coach Mario Tremblay said. "That's his game. That's when he's at his best. He needs to want the puck. He needs to make plays. It's OK to be around the net, but Jacques wants more intensity.

"When [he's benched], when he's put back in, it puts the intensity back in his game. You see it right away. This is what he has to do all the time on a consistent basis."

Tremblay said Parrish must "push harder" in practice after games in which his ice time is limited. Parrish said: "I just have to keep working and do whatever I can to prove myself. If I play better and work harder, the more ice time I'll get."

But he's clearly concerned. Parrish met with his agent, Brian Lawton, last week. They plan to meet again this weekend "to sit and discuss things from our end," Lawton said.

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