Zach Parise returned to practice with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday for the first time since playing against the New York Rangers on Dec. 22. Parise, who skated on his own Tuesday, reportedly was diagnosed with a fractured foot and has been on injured reserve since Dec. 28.
Parise has missed 11 straight games and there remains no timetable for his return. He wore a yellow non-contact jersey Wednesday.
"It felt pretty good," Parise told the Wild website. "It was nice to play a little bit. I mean, [Tuesday] we didn't do too much, just kind of touched the puck a little bit and a couple of tight turns, things like that. Today was a better test to see how it felt. It was OK. It felt good."
Parise's injury dates to Nov. 25, when he injured his foot blocking a shot in a game against the St. Louis Blues. The team initially thought he would be out for as long as three weeks, but he missed one game and returned Nov. 29 against the Colorado Avalanche.
However, Parise struggled in the next 12 games, scoring four goals awith a minus-6 rating. A follow-up MRI after the game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden reportedly showed the stress fracture in his foot.
"A couple times I kind of found myself off-balance, I guess sometimes favoring the other foot," Parise said after the optional practice. "But after a while when I got comfortable using it, then it felt pretty good. Off the quick starts and stuff like that it felt much better than it did a month ago, or however long ago, when I was playing. So that's a good sign."
The good news is Parise was able to be at home for the birth of his twins, Emelia and Jaxson, on Jan. 8. The Wild were traveling that day between Phoenix and Los Angeles, but instead Parise was able to be by his wife Alisha's side.
"Who knows, we would have been on the plane out to L.A. or in Phoenix and trying to scramble to get back," Parise said. "If there is any good thing or any positive thing it's that I've been able to be at home, help out Alisha and be around the kids, the babies. It's been good from that point. Luckily I wasn't out there. I wouldn't have wanted to miss that."
Parise said he has a hard time leaving the house these days because he wants to be home all the time.
"It's been awesome," Parise said. "Really, it's been the greatest thing ever. I couldn't be happier. It's 10 times better than the way people describe it."
Wild captain Mikko Koivu was seen at the arena, but there is no timetable for his return from right-ankle surgery that has kept him out of the lineup for the past five games.
"I know that he's motivated to get back," coach Mike Yeo said. "So, yeah, it is encouraging."
Minnesota goalie Josh Harding was at practice Wednesday and is getting closer to returning to the lineup. Yeo would not announce the starting goalie for a home game Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers.
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