Zach Parise tried to avoid surgery for the past two months, believing he would be in the Wild lineup at any moment.
But after being able to practice only sparingly because of leg pain and weakness caused by a herniated disk in his back, the 33-year-old winger decided to have surgery that will likely sideline him until early 2018.
Parise underwent microdiscectomy surgery Tuesday morning and is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks. The surgery relieved pressure on a nerve that caused leg pain and weakness.
Parise, who played through the back issue last season, said on Oct. 10 he suffered a setback about two weeks before training camp. He occasionally participated in practices but never addressed the injury directly.
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Parise had been in acute pain and did everything he could to avoid surgery. He noted that the surgery is fairly common; Fletcher’s wife has had it, and so have other NHL players who returned to play.
With no offseason to allow his back to heal on its own, Fletcher said, Parise consulted with doctors, family members and players who have had the surgery, then decided to do it now.
“Statistically, the doctors say he’ll be fine, he’ll come back and play,’’ Fletcher said. “There are no guarantees. But we’re pretty confident he’ll be in a good place in a few weeks.’’
Parise has eight years remaining on the 13-year, $98 million contract he signed in 2012. Fletcher said he isn’t concerned about Parise’s long-term health, nor is he planning to make any trades.
“We’re fortunate that we have good depth,’’ he said. “I think we’re comfortable in the spot we’re at. It’s a good group.’’
For coach Bruce Boudreau, who fielded Parise-related questions on a daily basis since the team started training camp in mid-September, the surgery provided closure.
“I know very little, quite frankly, about that,” Boudreau said Tuesday. “I’ll let all the doctors handle it. But I’m glad he made a decision. After today, hopefully there won’t be any questions about it.”
Parise suffered the back injury in January 2016, and ended up missing the playoffs that season. He returned to the Wild lineup last year and had 19 goals in 69 games.
In his career, Parise has played 830 games and has 318 goals and 343 assists. He was captain of the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi in 2014.
“It’s obviously tough,” said Wild forward Jason Zucker. “You never want to have to go through any of that as it is. And having to do it at this point in the season is obviously tough. With the way he works, he’ll be back, and he’ll be back stronger than ever.’’
The Wild is also missing winger Charlie Coyle, out until December because of a broken leg, and Nino Niederreiter, sidelined because of a sprained ankle.