to what he figures to be 90 percent hea

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MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. -- The former captain of Team USAs Olympic hockey team and the current face of the Minnesota Wild has wires connecting him to portable electronic monitoring equipment after another offseason workout at St. Thomas Ice Arena in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul.Theres good-natured banter about whether the device is actually a lie detector and who should be hooked up to the machine, Zach Parise or his visitor.There is a lightheartedness that permeates the conversation that speaks to a corner turned and rediscovered optimism borne out of loss and disappointment, and a significant amount of pain.It wasnt all that long ago that Parise could not sit on the floor to play with his ever-growing twins -- these days, 2?-year-olds Jaxson and Emelia are singing songs and speaking in small but alarmingly coherent sentences, and Jax is in the midst of potty education -- but had to lay flat to minimize the pain from a bulging disc that had gone from annoying his nerves to strangling them.Parise, newly turned 32, has gone from not being able to pull on socks or drive a car, let alone playing in a playoff game, to talking with enthusiasm about putting the disappointment of the Sochi Olympics behind him with a strong showing at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto next month -- and using that as a springboard to a successful, injury-free season with a Wild team that has struggled to meet high expectations since Parises splashy arrival in the summer of 2012.Parise shakes his head in wonder at the swift, relentless passage of time.I know, its crazy, he said.When he signed his 13-year, $98 million deal along with pal Ryan Suter on July 4, 2012, he had no way of knowing his father, former NHLer J.P. Parise, would in early 2014 be diagnosed with cancer and die a year later. He could not know that a year and a half after signing his contract, he would become a father to twins. Nor could he know that signing on to play for his hometown Wild would mean four straight playoff berths -- but that he and the team would also be forced to endure dramatic swings in levels of play and serious injuries that would most recently cost Parise an opportunity to play in the 2016 playoffs while the Wild were dispatched in the first round by the Dallas Stars.Theres been a lot of really great times and a lot of really low times, he said. Just a lot of different things have happened in life away from the rink. Again, at times its been incredible and at other times its been really, really bad.Still, there is nothing about Parise that speaks of regret. The opposite is true.Backing up to 2012, not knowing the way things were going to turn out or even knowing it, I wouldnt have done anything different, he said. I was able to get to spend more time close to my dad, which I wouldnt have gotten somewhere else. Which was a blessing. And being here and having him be around the kids, which he wouldnt have been able to do. So those things, I wouldnt trade those for the world.The Wild will begin the season with their third coach in the past year after Mike Yeo was fired midseason and interim coach John Torchetti wasnt retained after the Wilds first-round ouster. Bruce Boudreau, one of the most successful regular-season coaches of his generation, has been tapped to put the Wild on a more even arc, and Parise is already giddy with excitement at the prospect of playing for him. Early indications are that Parise will be starting on a line with Charlie Coyle and former Carolina Hurriicanes captain Eric Staal.ddddddddddddLongtime NHLer Mike Rupp played with Parise early in Parises career with the New Jersey Devils, where Parise would eventually become captain and lead the Devils to an unexpected trip to the 2012 Stanley Cup finals a few weeks before signing his long-term deal with the Wild.Rupp would then reunite with Parise in Minnesota before Rupp retired and became a national broadcast analyst.Hes probably my favorite teammate that I got to play with in my career, Rupp said. Hes got this kind of humbleness and innocence to him. Hes just hockey through and through.The joke used to be that Parise was a fourth-line grinder with first-line talent. Its a distinction that has often been made of another top player named Sidney Crosby.Rupp, who still recalls Parises ability to dislodge pucks from opponents (and teammates during practice) with a quick, rigid one-handed flick of the stick, says he feels that Parise doesnt get nearly enough credit for his two-way game and should be considered a Frank J. Selke Trophy candidate.Of course, there has been additional pressure returning home to Minnesota, but Rupp said Parise works so hard that there hardly has been room to criticize his role in the teams significant ups and downs.The way he plays every night, youre not really going to have the finger pointed at you, Rupp said.San Jose Sharks defenseman Paul Martin, like Parise, is from Minnesota and the two played against each other in college before becoming teammates with the Devils. In New Jersey, the two would ride to the rink together. Martin said he always has been struck by Parises work ethic.Hes competitive, Martin said. He wants to win no matter what it is. Hes a hard worker; always has been.Parise takes a lot of pressure on his shoulders as a leader, added Martin, who was also a member of the 2014 Team USA Olympic team in Sochi, although he was injured and did not play in back-to-back shutout losses to Canada and Finland to close out the tournament.He takes things to heart, Martin said. Hes definitely someone who cares, which you need for a team to be successful.Parise acknowledges that leaving Sochi the way Team USA did was a bitter pill to swallow. And the fact he wore the C as the teams captain made the departure even more difficult.Having been the captain of that team, of course you accept some of that responsibility, or a lot of that responsibility, he said. Your job was, one of your jobs, was to get your team ready to play. And, again, just for those two games we didnt have our best games but I think, from my standpoint, you know thats where you need a guy like myself or someone else to really make a play, to make a big play, to be like the guy weve got to get going here, and it just didnt happen.Parise eschewed surgery on his back in favor of a slower but ultimately more certain rehabilitation that has seen him return to what he figures to be 90 percent health. The strength has returned, and with it the excitement and indeed nervousness of returning to the international stage with Team USA. Beyond that is a new chapter in his journey with the Wild.I think our team has made a lot of improvements and were growing, and I think this will be a really big year for us, Parise said. Im not one of the pessimists around. Im optimistic. I like our team.No need to check the lie detector on that. 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