NEWARK, N.J. - Four months after undergoing surgery on his right knee, New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise has been cleared to start skating.
Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said Parise was examined by surgeons in Cleveland on Wednesday, and given the OK to skate lightly.
"This is the first time he's allowed to go on the ice and there are things he can't do," Lamoriello said. "He just can skate. He can't do anything else. So, when I say two to three weeks, that's just the minimum. It could be four weeks. It could be five weeks. I can't answer that."
Lamoriello said it will be a minimum of three weeks before Parise regains strength in his legs, and tries to start working on moves needed to play hockey. The general manager said there was a chance Parise will play again this season.
"I would think so, but to what extent I couldn't answer," Lamoriello said. "When you get to this point of any injury, the last 10 per cent, 15 per cent is the most difficult. Getting up to a certain point, you get there and then it's getting everything where it should be because you haven't been active for quite a while. When you shut your leg down and your knee down for this amount of time and you're doing other exercises, you're working different parts of your body, you've got to be very, very careful when you come back."
Lamoriello was not sure whether Parise will skate on Thursday.
"If you know Zach, I'm sure you'll realize he was pretty excited just to get on skates," Lamoriello said. "Holding him back will be another thing."
Parise, who will be a restricted free agent after this season, had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the knee on Nov. 2. He hurt his knee skating in August and played 12 games before having the surgery.
Lamoriello said whether the Devils are still in the playoff hunt will not determine whether Parise plays this season.
"You're not going to be released from physicians because there's playoffs or not playoffs," Lamoriello said. "You're going to be released if you're OK to play and you're healthy. It's as simple as that."
Parise has been the focal point of the Devils' offence the past four seasons with 31, 32, 45 and 38 goals.
In the gold-medal game against Canada in the Olympics, the U.S. Olympian scored the tying goal with 24 seconds left in regulation. Canada won on a goal by Sidney Crosby in overtime.