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With milestone reached, Parise now set to become Wild in numbers

Veteran forward has skated in 502 games for each of his two NHL clubs

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- Zach Parise is one of the most celebrated players in Minnesota history. 

But when he suits up and takes the ice for the 1,005th NHL game of his career Wednesday night in Vancouver, Parise will become uniquely Wild. 

That game will mark his 503rd in a Wild uniform, which will make a small bit of personal history for the veteran forward. When it happens, he will have played more games in the Forest Green and Iron Range Red than he had for the New Jersey Devils, the team that drafted him 17th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft.

When Parise skated in his 1,000th NHL game last week in Dallas, 502 had come in a Devils uniform and 498 had come with the Wild ... a rare, nearly perfect split. 

How rare is that nearly identical 50/50 divide? It is believed that Parise's career marks the closest thing to an even split for any of the now 348 players to eclipse the milestone. 

Video: Zach Parise mic'd for NHL game 1000

"It definitely feels like I've been here longer," Parise said. "Someone told me [Sunday] that it was 502-502 and I didn't know that. I honestly didn't know I had played 498 here [to reach 1,000], that was news to me. But to have it be a 50/50 split, that's pretty neat." 

With good health, Parise would have reached the 1,000-game plateau much sooner. When he left the Devils following the 2011-12 season, Parise was regarded as one of the most durable players in the game. 

In his first five seasons in the League, Parise missed a grand total of just three games. 

That luck ran out in year six, when a knee injury ended his 2010-11 season after just 13 games. He returned the following year, his final one in New Jersey, to play in all 82 games for a third time. 

Naturally, as Parise has gotten older and the continued wear and tear of his grinding, physical style has taken its toll, it has taken him longer to match the 502 games he played in New Jersey. 

A back injury that cost him half a season in 2017-18 and a lockout, which wiped out nearly half of the 2012-13 campaign, have been the main culprits.

He reached 502 games with the Devils in essentially six full seasons plus 13 games in another. Parise, in the midst of his eighth season in Minnesota, played in 502 with the Wild on Sunday. 

Video: Candid with Carts on 1000 NHL games for Parise

"I've missed a lot here," Parise said. "Between the lockout and some seasons where I've only played 60, 65 games, I think the numbers might be a little skewed."

Earlier this season, Ryan Suter -- Parise's July 4, 2012 partner in crime -- himself played in more games with Minnesota than that of the Nashville Predators, the team that drafted him, also in 2003.

While Suter celebrated his 1,000th NHL game early last season, his came with a much more defined split of games. His first 542 came in Nashville, while his following 458 with Minnesota.

Still, that divide marks about the closest thing to an even split as Parise's. That number has since beefed up to 588 with the Wild, and Suter, should he play in 20 more games this season, will cross 1,150 for his career. 

An emotional celebration

The Wild celebrated Parise's accomplishment with a pre-game, on-ice ceremony Sunday. Parise received the traditional 1,000th game crystal and the silver stick. He also was gifted a vacation and a utility vehicle.

But perhaps the most touching moment of the night came during the video tribute, one which featured his mom, Donna, his wife, Alisha, his three children, as well as several current and former teammates. 

Near the end, the booming voice of J.P. Parise echoed throughout the arena, a video feature recorded, from the looks of the video quality, 15 or 20 years ago. 

Video: Parise 1000 NHL games Celebration

J.P., the legendary former North Star, passed away in January of 2015 after a battle with lung cancer. 

"Pretty proud dad," the video clip of J.P. begins. "He's accomplished some really good stuff and he's going to be successful in life because he understands that caring for people will only bring him success."

Parise said he had never seen the clip before and it caught him off guard to hear and see his dad in the tribute. As the short snippet concluded, Zach was seen wiping away a couple of tears from his eyes.

"I did not that expect that," Parise said, still clearly moved by it a day later. "I don't really know what to say about it. It was awesome."

On a lighter note, Parise said even his buddies that were in attendance, ones that played with Zach and for J.P. at Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault, were stunned into silence.

"They said they were laughing during some of the things they saw on the video and then they see him, the guys that had played for him ... they said that once he came on, it just got silent," Parise said. "I think it was just one of those moments, where it was just like holy [crap]. It was just awesome."

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