When the Minnesota Wild’s shortened schedule came out bare of NHL Eastern Conference teams, former Devils star left wing Zach Parise wasn’t disappointed. He won’t have to visit Newark until next season — unless the Wild and Devils meet in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Last July, Parise bolted New Jersey, where he played his first seven seasons, and returned to his native Minnesota, accepting a 13-year, $98 million package.
“I wasn’t terribly upset to see that game get cancelled by the lockout,’’ Parise told The Post on Saturday at Xcel Center after the Wild’s overtime victory over the Predators. “But I guess you got to face the music one of these days. It will be pretty weird going back.’’
Parise figures the greeting will be nasty. The Devils stepped up financially during negotiations to retain their captain, but lost.
“Fans have their opinions,’’ Parise said. “What was most important to me is they were great to me when I was there. They were awesome. I understand they’re upset. I loved every minute of it. If I get booed when I get back there, I’ll deal with it.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. You make a decision and not dwell on what could’ve been. I never talk numbers, but it’s not as if Minnesota blew them out of the water. The Devils were right there too. But I love being here.’’
Parise got his money and got back to his home state, where his famous father, J.P. (who starred for the Islanders), attends every game. But though he has excelled with a team-leading 10 points, the Wild (5-5-1) have disappointed after a summer splurge that also landed defenseman Ryan Suter for $98 million.
“It’s still been a lot of fun to be back here,’’ Parise said. “We’re getting there, playing better.’’
Saturday night, most fans seemed decked out in green-and-red Parise jerseys, as if he were the Wild’s only player.
Ex-Devil Parise wild about Wild
New York Post | Feb 12