Minnesota Hockey Journal

December 2018

Issue link: http://read.uberflip.com/i/1051298

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Page 27 of 31

wo years ago, Bruce Boudreau got the job in Minnesota, and then- GM Chuck Fletcher during the inter- view process raved to the veteran NHL coach about the Wild's big- gest strength, the blue line. Boudreau knew about Ryan Suter, the Wild's No. 1 defense- man and league's chief minute muncher. He knew about the big shot of Matt Dumba and the mobility of Jonas Brodin. But Fletcher told Boudreau, "Wait 'til you see how good Jared Spurgeon is." Boudreau took the job, and all summer long, everybody he spoke to echoed Fletcher's sentiments: "Wait til you see how good this kid Spurgeon is." It was Spurgeon this and Spurgeon that. Boudreau couldn't wait to get his eyes on him. And then he did. "I looked at him and he looked like he was just getting out of ele- mentary school," Boudreau said, laughing. "He was only 160 pounds or 155 pounds. And I said, 'There's no chance that this guy's this good.' And then, I found out he was." If you're a youth hockey player wanting to play at the next level but worried that growth spurt will never come, Spurgeon has one message for you: "Don't give up. Don't let anybody tell you, 'You can't do it because you're small.' You don't need to be gigantic to play in the NHL if you're smart and can skate and, most importantly, if you work hard." Spurgeon, still a baby-faced 28-year-old despite eight years of NHL experience, is 5-foot-9 and weighs that 155 pounds Boudreau was talking about. Yet, despite his stature, some folks who watch him nightly would contend that he M H J O N L I N E . C O M | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 28 How small players cannot only survive, but thrive in today's game Measuring Up by Michael Russo Russo's Rants P R E S E N T E D B Y T "I think what's happening in the game is the smaller players that are thinkers are going to continue to grow and have a chance to be really successful." -Mike Guentzel Photos / Joe Sargent, UMD Athletics, Brad Rempel/Gopher Athletics, PSU Athletics, Tim Kolehmainen, Claus Anderson/Getty Images North America may actually be the Wild's best defenseman. Just watch Spurgeon go into the corner or behind the net with a bigger forward. It's Spurgeon who usually comes out with the puck. After years and years of perfect- ing his craft, Spurgeon has figured out ways to compensate for his size. How? "I think from a young age just watching hockey, and loving it," Spurgeon said. "You go to the

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