In this week's edition of Bruce Bites, Wild.com's Dan Myers sits down with Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to talk about Jared Spurgeon, the Minnesota Blue Ox and holiday traditions:
Dan Myers: You're without Jared Spurgeon here for a couple of weeks. I know you talk a lot about how special of a player he is, but why do you think he goes so unnoticed when it comes to national recognition?
Bruce Boudreau: He's underrated because he doesn't put up the numbers and he's in Minnesota. If he was in Toronto, or Montreal, or New York, he wouldn't be underrated. We don't get that national exposure that some of those teams do. He's not a guy who's going to get you 55 or 60 or 70 points like Erik Karlsson, but he's going to defend the bejeebers out of everyone and compete and he pays attention to every little detail. He's a coach's dream.
DM: Do you think playing with a guy like Ryan Suter has helped his game? Obviously, he's not the biggest guy, but like Suter, he seems to be able to use angles and his skating to always get to pucks first, and he's able to go into places to retrieve pucks.
BB: I'm sure Sutes has helped him along the way, but there's a lot of suff that Spurge has been born with. When I'm saying something, he's focused right on you. When you only need to tell him something once, and he goes and does it the right way. Those little things, and the compete aspect of it. When you're smaller like he is, he's had to overcome so many things just to get to the level of hockey he's at now. It's quite incredible.
DM: It was about a year ago that the Wild began its 12-game winning streak. This is a different team, but do you think finding some success on this trip could offer you a similar spring board to kickstart your season?
BB: It could be a launching pad, but 12-game win streaks don't come around every day. There's teams that haven't had a 10-game winning streak in 20 years. So to think that just because it's this time of year that something is going to happen is [crazy]. Plus, I think San Jose and Los Angeles are both better than they were last year and Anaheim is always a tough out.
DM: Obviously, you can't hope for a 12-game winning streak. As you said, they don't happen very often. So is it more of needing a 10 wins in 13 games-type stretch?
BB: You know what, if we got through this week unscathed, then all of the sudden you start looking for loftier things, because you're at home for a few games next week.
DM: You have ventured into hockey ownership this season with the Minnesota Blue Ox. How much fun has it been to be able to go to the rink on an off evening and watch you son play like any regular hockey dad?
BB: That's been the fun. I've seen six games now and I haven't see six games of [son] Brady's in any two years you can put together. Or my other sons, for that matter, I didn't have that luxury. So to be able to sit down and watch him has been pretty cool. And to be able to go in and talk to the players, not as an owner, but they know who I am, has been cool. And for them to have the success that they're having is way beyond what I thought would happen. It's been a real fun year out there, to see the work [wife] Crystal has put into it, and the way Brady has, on and off the ice, to promote that team, has really been great.
DM: It's the holiday season. I know your family is spread all over North America, but do you have any traditions you look forward to this time of year?
BB: I usually have at least one of my kids spend Christmas with me, and this year Andy is coming down. He's coming with us on the mentor's trip (in two weeks) and I think that's going to be tremendous. Then he's going to come spend Christmas at home with me, so that's great. It's too bad, Ben's job (assistant coach with the ECHL's Fort Wayne Komets) takes him where he is and that's what hockey coaches do, but at the same time, during the five-day break [in January], I'll go see him.