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Parise progressing from season-ending sternum injury

Forward was at United Heroes League event on Monday in Prior Lake

by Dan Myers @DanMyers /

PRIOR LAKE -- After a couple of crazy offseasons, Wild forward Zach Parise is looking forward to one where the veteran can simply get back to business.

Last summer, it was a back injury sustained late that eventually required a microdicectomy operation that cost him half of the regular season.

The year before that, it was a condensed schedule off an original back injury and preparation for the World Cup of Hockey.

While a fractured sternum ended his season prematurely in the spring, Parise expects to be back to 100 percent in plenty of time as his summer training ramps up.

One thing that hasn't caused him any problems is his back. Parise admitted it was perhaps the root cause of a slow start for him once he returned last January; he scored just three goals in his first 24 games after coming back from surgery.

But Parise caught fire in March, scoring 10 goals during the month and 12 goals over the final 18 games of the regular season.

Parise was arguably Minnesota's best player during his brief playoff run, scoring one goal in all three games he played in before sustaining his sternum injury at the end of Game 3 of the Wild's series against the Winnipeg Jets.

"It never really felt awful," Parise said. "Bad timing. It was frustrating, it was unexpected. I was in shock when I got the news. It's a long healing thing, but that's just the way it goes."

Video: Summer update with Zach Parise

He didn't participate in the United Heroes League Camo Classic golf event at The Legends on Monday, but was there in support of a charity that has been close to his heart since he first joined forces with it several years ago.

"I think they've done a great job. You can see how far the group has gone over the last little while, how much more support it's getting," Parise said. "It's catching on. It's great to see. Us in the hockey community, you want to be able to see the kids play and at the same time, you have these families that have their parents serving for our country. Any small type of things we can give back to them, it goes a long way."

More than two dozen current and former NHLers played in the tournament on Monday, helping to raise money for the United Heroes League, a non-profit 501c3 that helps military kids stay active in sports while their parents are serving the country.

Formerly known as 'Defending the Blue Line,' the charity has grown in recent years and changed its name to United Heroes League. The organization now assists children in all sports. It has a strong loyalty among hockey players because they have been associated with it for many years.

"It's great to see," Parise said. "When I first got involved, it was just hockey. Now you see the traction that it's gained and with the other sports, and you see athletes from all the different sports getting in. It's a great cause."


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