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Wild's Parise undergoes back surgery, back in 8 to 10 weeks

Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise is interviewed in the team locker room at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Scott Takushi / St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL -- After weeks of trying to resolve back issues on his own, Wild winger Zach Parise had surgery on Tuesday morning to remove a herniated disk, the team announced in a 34-word press release.

Parise, 33, is expected to miss another 8 to 10 weeks, according to the team, meaning he won’t return until sometime shortly after Christmas at the earliest.

This is the same injury that kept Parise out of the 2016 NHL playoffs, raising concern that problems could persist for the rest of his career. He still has eight years left on the 13-year, $98 million contract he signed with the Wild on July 4, 2012.

“I’m glad he made a decision,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “After today, hopefully there won’t be any more questions about it.”

Boudreau clearly has grown frustrated talking about Parise over the past few weeks. He has deferred to the doctors time and again when asked about it, and did so again after Tuesday’s morning skate.

“I know very little about that,” Boudreau said. “I’ll let all the doctors handle it.”

Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher addressed reporters before Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks at Xcel Energy Center and said there’s no reason to think Parise won’t return to full strength.

“The doctors say he’ll be fine and he’ll come back and he’ll play,” Fletcher said. “There are several other players in the NHL that have had this surgery and played. Lots of people in life have had this surgery. ... Everyone’s been able to get back to normal. Again, there’s no guarantees. We are pretty confident that he’ll be in a good place in a few weeks.”

As far as the recovery process is concerned, Fletcher said Parise has to take it easy for a couple weeks and can start biking at the two-week mark. After that he can start skating somewhere around the six-week mark with the goal of returning shortly after that.

“Every situation is different,” Fletcher said. “As we get into it, we’ll be able to reevaluate the time frame.”

Parise aggravated his back a few days before training camp and practiced off and on with the team over the next couple of weeks. He was made available to the media for comment just once during training camp, and later claimed that his injury troubles had nothing to do with his back.

After being cleared for full contact a couple weeks ago, Parise appeared on track to make his season debut before suffering a setback during last Monday’s practice. He left the ice after about 20 minutes following a session of intense one-on-one drills.

Parise has been in a lot of pain since then and ultimately made the decision to get surgery after consulting with a number of people.

“It just made sense in a lot of different ways for him to just get this done now,” Fletcher said. “You can’t take surgery lightly, especially surgery in that area of the body. He thought long and hard about it and took some time last week to think it through and speak to a lot of specialists and ultimately I think he feels comfortable with the decision he made.”

Parise’s teammates were disappointed by the news, though the seem confident he will return to full strength.

“It’s obviously tough,” winger Jason Zucker said. “You never want to have to go through any of that as it is, and having to do it at this point in the season is obviously tough. You know, with the way he works, he’ll be back, and he’ll be back stronger than ever. We are excited for that day when he can come back and join us.”

Parise could end up on long-term injured reserve when Charlie Coyle returns from a broken right fibula. That would allow the Wild to continue to spend over the salary cap to call players up from their minor-league team in Iowa until Parise returns.

Aside from that, there aren’t really many things the Wild can do except wait for Parise to get healthy.

“I give him credit,” Fletcher said. “He did what he could to avoid surgery and rehab and get back and play. At the end of the day, I think what happened today will allow him to feel better quicker and give him a really good chance to get back on the ice.”