Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason has talked the talk when preaching accountability. He showed Wednesday he’s willing to walk the walk.
After overextending a shift late in an overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night, March 1, veteran winger Zach Parise is a healthy scratch for the first time in his Wild career. He was sitting out the Wild’s rematch with the Golden Knights in Vegas on Wednesday night.
This is clearly a message being sent to Parise, 36, after he decided not to come off the ice for an obvious line change during Monday’s game in Las Vegas. Not long after he overextended his shift, the Golden Knights netted the tying goal as Mark Stone found Max Pacioretty on the doorstep.
“It was disappointing, and I don’t agree with the decision,” Parise said of being scratched. “In my heart, I felt like I was doing the right thing.”
Asked why he overextended the shift, Parise said he was trying to get teammate Marcus Foligno a hat trick for the first time in his career. They talked about it on the bench when the Golden Knights pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury late in the game.
“I said to him, ‘If I get the puck, get up ice with me; I’m not going to shoot, I’m going to find you,’ ” Parise said. “We were out there for a little bit and Marcus had a little break and I made the decision to try to join him to help him. They ended up getting the puck and I saw him change on the backcheck. I didn’t think it’d be a good idea for me to change, too, so I stayed out there.
“Unfortunately, it was, I guess, the ultimate backfire that they ended up tying the game,” Parise added. “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.”
That’s something Parise explained to his teammates in a meeting afterward, and he said they understood his intentions.
“They are 100 percent behind me and have my back,” Parise said. “That’s what matters.”
In place of Parise, the Wild will dress Gerry Mayhew and Kyle Rau. Both players were recalled from the taxi squad; Ryan Hartman is out with a lower-body injury, creating the other open spot in the lineup.
“You’re not going to like the decision as a player a lot of the times,” Evason said. “If we can be as honest and as up front as we can, hopefully players can deal with it and use it and turn it into a positive using that emotion in the right direction going forward.”
This is only the second time in Parise’s 16-year NHL career he has missed a game as a healthy scratch. The other came on Nov. 30, 2005 when he was a rookie with the New Jersey Devils.
With only three goals and six assists, Parise has seen his playing time decrease over the past month. Still, he felt like his game was trending in the right direction, which makes the healthy scratch even more frustrating.
“It was going the right way, baby steps, and here we are right now,” Parise said. “That’s OK. I’ll be ready to go when the time is right.”