LAS VEGAS – Zach Parise has missed games before in his nine seasons with the Wild, sitting out with injury, illness and after his father, J.P., died in 2015.
But on Wednesday, he was watching for a brand-new reason.
The Wild made Parise a healthy scratch for the first time because of his play, a botched shift in the 5-4 overtime loss to the Golden Knights on Monday that amplified a rough season for the 36-year-old winger.
"It was disappointing, and I don't agree with the decision," Parise said. "In my heart, I felt like I was doing the right thing."
In the waning seconds of the third period in Monday's game, Parise was on the ice with winger Marcus Foligno, and told Foligno ahead of time he would feed Foligno for a shot at an empty net so Foligno could get his first career hat trick.
But the shot never came, and Foligno went for a line change. Parise didn't. And after a pass in the Wild's zone got tipped by Parise's stick, Mark Stone scooped up the bouncing puck and set up Alex Tuch for the game-tying goal with 42 seconds to go.
"I didn't think it'd be a good idea for me to change, too," said Parise, whose shift ended up being 1 minute, 33 seconds. "So I stayed out there. And unfortunately, it was the ultimate backfire that they ended up tying the game. But I know in my heart I had the best of intentions to help Marcus try to get the hat trick, and unfortunately it ended the way it did and here we are.
"But after our meeting, I talked to the team about it [Tuesday] and they are 100 percent behind me and have my back and that's what matters."
Coach Dean Evason said lineup decisions are made by the organization and he communicated the news to Parise in a one-on-one meeting. Evason described the change as a hard call to make, regardless of the player.
"We're taking the livelihood away from them," Evason said. "We're taking away what they love to do and play the game."
Parise felt his game was trending in the right direction; he snapped a nine-game goalless drought Feb. 24 at Colorado.
Overall, though, his season has been uneven; Parise has only three goals and six assists for nine points through 19 games and hasn't been around the puck as much. He's on pace for 130 shots this season, which would be his fewest since an injury-ravaged 2017-18 when he had only 119 through 42 games. Parise has eclipsed at least 150 in all but three of his previous 15 NHL seasons.
"It was just a slow start," Parise said. "Just a stretch where I wasn't getting a lot of looks. It's been a struggle for all the guys on the power play where the top guys get points and goals. That aside, we're winning games and that's been fun. Just where we are in the standings and how well we're playing, I think that trumps how frustrating it's been individually."
Not only was Parise the first forward on the ice Wednesday ahead of the team's pregame skate, but he also stayed out late to work on his game. He vowed to be ready to return and said he'd "forget and move on" from the healthy scratch.
The Wild hopes Parise can turn the situation into a positive.
"Sometimes you need a little tweak to get it going," Evason said. "We're hoping clearly that this is the tweak, and right or wrong, we've made the decision and we're going to live with it. But do we expect Zach Parise to be a huge part of our hockey club? Of course. And there's no question that our organization believes that, and I can take it a step further. There's no question our team believes that."
Forward Ryan Hartman missed the game Wednesday because of a lower-body injury.
To replace him and Parise in the lineup, the Wild recalled forwards Gerald Mayhew and Kyle Rau from the taxi squad.
The Wild also moved center Marcus Johansson (upper body) to injured reserve.