Off COVID-19 list, Minnesota Wild F Zach Parise to return Wednesday

Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild looks for an opening against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period at Ball Arena on February 24, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. ((Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Wild host the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center, and they expect one of their veteran leaders back on the ice.

Forward Zach Parise was recently removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol List, and coach Dean Evason said Tuesday he’s expected to play Wednesday night. The Wild held an optional skate on Tuesday after a 5-4 loss to the Avalanche Monday night. It was the first time fans could see hockey in-person at Xcel Energy Center since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020.

The Wild had a capacity crowd of 3,000, the current maximum under Minnesota state guidelines.

Parise was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list on March 24, and had to sit out 10 days as a result. Earlier this season, the Wild had to postpone six games due to COVID-19 outbreak within the team, though Parise was not among the players put on the list at that time.

The Wild is looking forward to adding skill and leadership back on the ice, after having a 12-game home win streak snapped. Minnesota is No. 3 in the Honda West behind the Vegas Golden Knights and Avalanche.

"Veteran leadership obviously that we need in situations like this, when you play against teams like this. All the help we can get leadership-wise, not only on the ice but in the room, we obviously will welcome," Evason said.

It’s been a frustrating season on the stat sheet for Parise, who has just 12 points and only three goals in 29 games.