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Parise Returns to Practice with Team

Alternate captain missed first week of training camp with back soreness

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- After a week filled with uncertainty and questions, the Wild got some good news on Friday as forward Zach Parise skated with the team for the first time during training camp.

Parise missed the first full week of team activities and the first two preseason games with a sore back, but had resumed skating on his own over the past few days in an effort to ramp up his activity.

Following Minnesota's 1-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, coach Bruce Boudreau indicated Parise would practice on Friday. Sure enough, there he was, skating in a green jersey during the day's second session, apparently no worse for the wear.

"It was fun, it was nice to get on the ice with a group of guys and get into some type of game drills and game scenarios, so it was a good step," Parise said. "It felt good. There were some times out there, it's different when you're skating on your own, skating and doing scripted drills and you kind of brace yourself for knowing where you're going and what direction you're going, and when you get out there it's the neutral zone, with 10 guys in the neutral zone, it's so chaotic you've got to just react. I think it was a good step for me to be able to do that. And hopefully it keeps getting better and better."

Video: Zach Parise Returns to Practice

Parise first injured his back at the end of the 2015-16 season during a game against the San Jose Sharks. He missed the entirety of the postseason that year but skated in the World Cup of Hockey for Team USA last fall and played in 69 games for the Wild last season.

"It was frustrating after having what I felt like was a great summer of training and skating. To have something come in a couple weeks before camp, it's not ideal. But, again, that's just where it is right now," Parise said. "All I can do right now is get myself better and keep rehabbing and keep strengthening and go from there."

Boudreau said while he'd love to have Parise back at some point in the preseason, it's certainly not going to happen this weekend when the Wild plays back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche.

"In a perfect world, of course we'd like him to play but we don't want him to play until he's ready to play. That's for sure. And none of that is my call," Boudreau said. "As a coach, you're sitting there going, 'OK great, if we get Zach Parise back, I'm a really happy man.' But that's the trainer's call and the doctor's call. We'll make sure it's done right and when he comes back, he'll be ready to play."

Beginning Tuesday, the Wild plays every other day through Sept. 30, the team's final preseason tuneup against the Dallas Stars. The regular season opens the following Thursday, Oct. 5, in Detroit.

"I would love to [play in the preseason], but I don't want to put a timetable on anything. In a perfect world, I would be playing. But we've got to get there first," Parise said. "I'm not going to put a timetable on anything, but I'd love to be playing in the opening game in Detroit."

Roster moves

After the club's second practice session on Friday, the Wild assigned a number of players to Iowa of the American Hockey League, including defensemen Gustav Bouramman, Dylan Labbe and Hunter Warner, as well as forwards Adam Gilmour, Pavel Jenys, Chase Lang, Mario Lucia, Gerald Mayhew and Dante Salituro, and goaltender Adam Vay.

Defenseman Zach Palmquist, a former Minnesota State standout, was placed on waivers. If he clears, he'll be assigned to Iowa on Saturday.

The Wild also removed forwards Mason Shaw and Jack Walker from its training camp roster. Shaw (knee) and Walker (shoulder) are each injured and aren't on NHL contracts.

The series of moves leaves the Wild with 40 players on its camp roster heading into the weekend.

Veterans return

After sending a lineup with several minor leaguers to Winnipeg, the Wild added a couple more veterans to its group for the game on Thursday. That number will increase again for Saturday as Boudreau confirmed Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal and Devan Dubnyk will be among the veteran players he expects in the lineup on Saturday.

All four players would be making their preseason debuts.

"It's their first game; we want to get their feet wet," Boudreau said. "I don't expect them to be at their same level they are in the middle of January, but at the same time, it's important to play people that don't like you."

Boudreau debuts as owner

The Wild's bench boss has established himself as one of the top hockey coaches in the world but will make his in-person debut as an owner on Friday night when his Minnesota Blue Ox open their home schedule.

Tweet from @mnwild: Bruce Boudreau wants to see YOU at the @mnblueoxhockey game tonight. Spurgeon & Ennis will be there too ���

Boudreau and his wife, Crystal, purchased a share of the U.S. Premier Hockey League junior team over the summer and on Friday, the 2-0 Blue Ox will celebrate Wild Night when they play the Minnesota Moose at Coon Rapids Ice Center, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.

Wild players Jared Spurgeon and Tyler Ennis will be there signing autographs and there will be ticket giveaways and prizes for fans who attend.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's exciting for the kids, I think. It might be the only game I see all year, but it's going to be fun going there and seeing what kind of atmosphere it is in that arena. I hope it's great," Boudreau said. "My wife and the general manager, [and] coach [Jay Witta] have done all the work and they deserve all the credit. I want to see the culmination of what they've worked all summer."

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