When he’s been healthy enough to do so, Zach Parise has participated in every one of the Minnesota Wild’s games this season. That couldn’t have been easy for him while his father and retired NHL all-star J.P. battled Stage 4 lung cancer. J.P. decided that he would discontinue his chemotherapy and his condition has worsened over the past few weeks.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life,” Zach Parise told the Star Tribune. “You try and find that separation, you try to come here and be around the guys and not think about it, and Yeozie [coach Mike Yeo] has been really good and the team’s been really good giving me the day off [Thursday], saying basically, ‘Just show up for games.’
“They’ve been really supportive about it, but the hard part about it is you try to go to the rink and forget about stuff, but the hard part is … this was kind of our thing.”
Hockey was something shared between the two of them. J.P. Parise would come to his son’s games and they would talk after the contest.
“That’s not there anymore. So, so … it’s been tough,” Zach said.
He tries to cope with seeing what his father is going through and what it’s doing to his mother, but he doesn’t feel like he’s succeeding.
“He doesn’t deserve it,” he said of his father.
Amid all of this, the Wild have been struggling and Parise has recently beaten himself up over his performance despite the fact that he has a team-leading 30 points in 32 contests. Yeo doesn’t agree with Parise’s harsh assessment of his own play and the coach hopes the Wild will be able to turn their season around soon so that the team’s play can be a positive in Parise’s life during a time when he needs them.