Wild captain Jared Spurgeon is nominee for Masterton Trophy
More than a decade later, it’s still hard to believe that Spurgeon almost didn’t make it to the NHL.
More than a decade later, it’s still hard to believe that Jared Spurgeon almost didn’t make it to the NHL.
Nowadays, the 32-year-old defenseman is the captain of the Minnesota Wild, having played more games than every player in franchise history except Mikko Koivu. Way back in September 2010, though, Spurgeon was a 20-year-old kid reeling after going unsigned by the New York Islanders.
“I don’t think I was pouting like I was done; I was more angry because I felt I had a pretty good junior career,” said Spurgeon, who had 51 points in 54 games during his final season in juniors with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. “I felt that I could prove myself. Just wanted an opportunity.”
That’s exactly what he got after his agent Eustace King convinced the Wild to give Spurgeon a shot. He turned heads at training camp and signed an entry-level contract with the Minnesota franchise on Sep. 23, 2010.
A couple of months later, on his 21st birthday, Spurgeon made his NHL debut with the Wild during a road game against the Calgary Flames.
The rest is history. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Spurgeon has gone on to play 771 games with the Wild, and counting.
He has become a cornerstone of the franchise in the process, and on Monday morning, the Twin Cities chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Spurgeon as its nominee for the Masterton Trophy. The award goes annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport.
If anyone on the Wild roster exemplifies those qualities, it’s Spurgeon. His dedication has been on display over the past decade as he has established himself as a star at the highest level.
“It definitely goes by fast,” Spurgeon said. “I still look back to the first game. Every time we walk into Calgary to play them, I remember my first game and remember wondering if (I was) going to get another one after that.”
He did. In fact, after being called up to the NHL the first time, Spurgeon never saw the minors again, outside of a playoff run with the the now-defunct Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League during the 2010-11 season.
Asked about his journey as a whole, Spurgeon pointed to the various people who helped him get to this point.
“You’re never going to do it alone,” he said. “There’s been a lot of people that helped along the way.”
That said, Spurgeon himself deserves credit for persevering after being dealt a bad hand more than a decade ago. He has accomplished so much since then. Now the only thing left to do is win a Stanley Cup.
“The organization has been great to me,” Spurgeon said. “There’s one thing missing that I want to bring back to them for showing that faith.”