Minnesota Wild star Zach Parise plays a rough game, but he revealed to Fox 9 just how tough this season has been… for him, his team, and fellow teammate Ryan Suter.
In September, Suter's dad, a member of the miracle on ice team in the 1980's, passed away after a sudden heart attack. Then in January, Parise lost his dad and longtime Minnesota hockey favorite J.P. Parise to cancer.
"The first half of the season was terrible," Parise said. "Really, it was. Starting with Ryan's dad passing before training camp and seeing what he was going through, then with what happened with our family… it was tough coming to the rink."
Parise said his mind "wasn't with it." Imagine trying to lead your struggling team, knowing that the men you love and who taught you the game are gone.
"I think Ryan had a very similar relationship to his dad that I did with my dad," Parise said. "When you have someone that knows how deeply and what you're going through, it's good to have someone to lean on. Ryan and I had that this year."
Fans can tell you this Wild run has been exhilarating. But for Suter and Parise, it could not have come at a better time. If you watch closely, you can see them being inspired by something much stronger than a will to win.
Parise said he's always thinking about his dad, even during the game.
"Our bond goes way beyond, but we had a special bond with hockey," he said. "After scoring, I tell him thanks."
Like any of us, they too deal with life's hurdles, but playoff hockey seems to be just what they needed at this time.
"I hope it doesn't end," Parise said. "It would be a great ending to what was a tough year for a lot of people. So we hope this thing keeps going."