It's been nearly two years since Zach Parise skated in a New Jersey Devils uniform. The last time was in June 11, 2012, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings, to be exact.
Parise scored a goal in the game to help New Jersey extend the series, but days later the Kings won the Cup. 23 days after that, Parise signed a 13-year, $98 million deal with the Minnesota Wild. He hasn't played in New Jersey since, but that all changes tonight when he leads the Wild against his former team at the Prudential Center.
Parise said he'll be fine if the New Jersey fans boo him.
“I’m expecting it,” he said, according to NorthJersey.com. “It’s fine. They’re passionate about their team and it’s understandable. I guess if they wouldn’t even care to acknowledge that I was back, that would be a little different.”
Parise spent seven years in New Jersey (2005-2012). He led the Devils to the playoffs six times while scoring 502 points. He's happy with his life in Minnesota, but leaving the city he called home for so long wasn't easy.
"It was brutal," he told NHL.com. "It's a fun process, don't get me wrong, but it's tough. It's a life-changing thing, and you want to make sure you're making the right decision, and you're really analyzing it from all different angles. Going through it, I think, was very tough because I like to consider myself a loyal person, and to leave an organization, leave people that had treated me so well for such a long time was a very tough thing to do."
This isn't just a trip down memory lane for Parise, it's a huge game for the Wild as they continue their push for the playoffs. Minnesota currently sits in seventh in the Western Conference.