The Wild made the kind of lineup change Wednesday that sends a jolt. A move that shows the organization isn't messing around. A "whoa" moment.
Zach Parise watched Wednesday's game as a healthy scratch for the first time in his nine seasons with the Wild.
The easy thing in dissecting this bold decision would be to focus on one shift. Monday night in Vegas, Parise refused to get off the ice in a display that was either too casual or overtly selfish in the final minute of regulation that played a pivotal part in the Wild losing in overtime.
Parise told reporters Wednesday that he overextended his shift because he was trying to help teammate Marcus Foligno get a hat trick, and that he didn't agree with coach Dean Evason's subsequent decision to scratch him.
The reason he stayed on the ice doesn't matter. Only the action. Parise cost his team in a big moment. And so what if he doesn't agree with the decision?
In deliberating how to proceed, Evason didn't just throw his hands up and say, "Well, that was dumb, but I can't do anything about it because he's Zach Parise." He didn't fume in silence, then keep Parise in the lineup since he's a highly compensated veteran who was hailed as an organizational savior when he arrived in 2012.
No, instead, Evason made a resounding, forceful statement by removing Parise from the lineup as punishment. His message was not hard to decipher. Nobody — not Parise or anyone else — is above being held accountable by this new regime.
Good for Evason. And good for General Manager Bill Guerin, who presumably had input.
Their decision isn't about one shift, though. It runs deeper than that. It's about establishing a new culture, a new way of doing business. A new Wild.
Seeing Parise benched certainly was jarring considering his stature and salary, but it really shouldn't be all that surprising. This isn't his team anymore, if that distinction has even applied in recent years.
Guerin's personnel decisions since taking charge of the operation have made clear that he's not beholden to any player in establishing a new direction. He purged veterans from the roster who held important roles for years, thus creating a new core as his foundation.
He tried to trade Parise last season, but a deal fell apart. When Guerin and Evason went to name a new captain before this season, they did not pick Parise or Ryan Suter (or apparently consult with them), which tells you how management feels about their ability to rally a locker room. Both remained alternate captains.
Parise and Suter breathed life into a listless organization and made the Wild relevant when they signed matching 13-year, $98 million contracts. The playoffs became an annual destination with them leading the way. Their impact has been substantial.
But that next step — the Wild advancing as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender — never materialized, making an organizational reboot necessary.
Parise and Suter can remain assets on a winning team, but this isn't 2012 anymore. They are not entitled to specific roles or unlimited ice time. They are no longer the most important players on the team.
Evason and Guerin are trying to establish expectations for their young core — Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala and Jordan Greenway and prospects not yet here. What message would that send if Parise's gaffe and season-long struggles were ignored because he's a veteran with a big contract?
It will be interesting to see how Parise responds once he returns to the lineup. He has not played well this season. Maybe this will ignite him. Or maybe this becomes a precursor to more trade talks.
In a conversation before the season, Guerin told me that he never wants to hear, "Well, we've always done that here," when making decisions. The old way no longer matters.
Benching a player as important as Parise has been to the organization provides more proof of this regime's willingness to shake things up and hold every single person accountable.