The Islanders' Zach Parise skates during training camp at Northwell...

The Islanders' Zach Parise skates during training camp at Northwell Health Ice Center on Sept. 23. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

ST. PAUL, Minn. — J.P. Parise is "always on all of our minds," his son Zach said last week, remembering his father nearly seven years after his death from lung cancer.

But when the younger Parise came here as an Islander on Sunday night to face the Wild, the family connection and Zach’s connection to Minnesota were on the minds of people far beyond the Parise family.

Start with the similarities in career paths, with both father and son going from long stretches in the Twin Cities – J.P. with the North Stars and Zach with the Wild – to late-career stops with the Islanders.

"There are a lot of parallels between our careers," Zach said. "I don’t think it really adds to the equation right now. It’s a little different scenario. But there are always the thoughts of him throughout the game, all the time."

J.P. scored one of the most memorable goals in Islanders history, 11 seconds into overtime of the third and deciding game of a preliminary-round series against the Rangers on April 11, 1975.

Zach so far has not made that sort of splash, entering Sunday night’s game with two assists and no goals in his nine games with the Islanders.

Then there is Zach’s personal history with the Wild, the team for which he left the Devils following the 2011-12 season to play for his hometown team, signing a 13-year, $98 million contract.

When Parise first returned to the Prudential Center, Devils fans mercilessly booed him. But the vibe was expected to be far different on Sunday night.

As Parise noted, leaving the Devils was his idea. Leaving the Wild, less so. The team bought out the last four years of his contract, and he signed a one-year, $750,000 deal with the Islanders.

Wild fans had the chance Sunday to thank him for his nine seasons and 199 goals with the team.

After a season of COVID-19 limitations, Parise said he would be happy to see the Xcel Energy Center full. "I’m excited to go play in front of them again," he said.

During that pre-homecoming interview with reporters last week, Parise said he expected a "weird" experience.

"(There will be) a lot of different feelings and emotions going in there as a visitor now, seeing all the people that you’re so familiar with and spent a lot of time with the last nine or 10 years," he said. "There are going to be a lot of different feelings throughout the day, for sure."

Parise’s wife and three children were set to be in the arena on Sunday. They have visited him on Long Island but still are based in Minnesota.

"It’s been hard," he said. "You’re just as a parent so accustomed to being with them all of the time and bringing them to their hockey and their gymnastics and their sports. So as a parent you really miss that stuff. And it’s an important time in their lives. We’re making the best of it."

Islanders defenseman Andy Greene was a teammate of Parise when the Devils reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 before losing to the Kings.

How has he changed since then? "That’s a tough one; I mean, he’s older, that’s about it," Greene said, jokingly. "Just a little bit older and a little bit mature, I guess you could say."

Greene is 39, Parise 37. Both are former Devils captains.

Parise said he is working on acclimating himself, helped by what he described as a close-knit group that has welcomed him warmly.

When a reporter asked whether he would be out for "revenge" on Sunday night, he said, "I’ve moved on, really. It’s been a long time. I love where I’m at."

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