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Parise: Still pretty good in career-worst year

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Parise: Arguably the face of the franchise, almost certainly the most recognizable player on the team, and one of the higher-paid players on roster, if my memory serves.

You read that right: this was the lowest point total Zach has scored in a full season since his rookie year.

This was your worst year in a Minnesota uniform. True, you earned more points than your first season, but that was lockout-shorted, and you were on pace to have your best season ever that year. This is the fewest points (in all situations) you've earned since 2011 when you only played 13 games, or your rookie year.

Your time on ice was identical (per game) to previous seasons, your points/60 was similar to the past, so what was the difference? Why the low point total? It's a mystery. True you played only 70 games, but two years ago you played 67 and scored more than this year. Last season you played only 74, but scored nearly 10 more points. Your sh% was a little low, but not horrendous, and still over the league average. Your shot rate was similar. So why the drop in production?

The answer is likely found in your teammates. Your on-ice sh% was the lowest it's ever been in your career, a measly 6.2. Now, some of that may be that you didn't create the high-danger chances you normally did, but it more likely is just who you were with. Jason Pominville posted a miserable 5% sh%, and Mikael Granlund's wasn't much better. Those were the two you spent by far the most time with, playing almost 100 more minutes with Granny than with any other center. The same is true of Pommer: you played 100 more minutes with him than any other RW (Coyle comes in second at 321 to Pom's 452). The next RW listed is David Jones at 24 minutes.

The other major cause? Almost certainly injury. You took a hard hit from noted jerk-face James Neal that caused you to miss some time. You missed a few games at the end of the season due to a dislocated velociraptor (or a similar back injury).

Offseason Homework

It's very simple: get healthy. When you're healthy and 100%, this team is way better. When you're playing hurt, it's pretty obvious to anyone watching. If you play through injury at your age, you're liable to end your career. Not that your bones are disintegrating but.... well they might be. And it's important to remember that if you retire early, you cripple the Wild even more than if you simply played injured.

The other piece of this is to hang out with some of the young guys. Crash a bar (carefully, your back remember) with Dumba. Kick some soccer balls (from your power scooter) with Nino. Make little kids smile with Charlie. There is a rift in the locker room, and it's on you and the other veterans to heal it. If we have another season like this, with an obvious breakdown in the locker room, that stops being the coaches' fault and starts being yours.

In the end, you're the man. You're a good hockey player who had a down year. But now you need to get healthy and turn it around both for yourself and your team.