On the street, you’d probably never guess Jared Spurgeon
is an NHL defenseman. The 5-9, 185-pound Edmonton native has battled critics and naysayers throughout his hockey career. Despite his size, Spurgeon signed an NHL deal with the Minnesota Wild this off-season and rapidly climbed his way up the depth chart with consistent, smart play.
The 21-year-old sat down with Wild.com and talked about life after juniors, making a quiet impression and getting comfortable with the guys.Wild.com: For a guy like you, that’s worked hard, fought and struggled to beat the critics and make it to the NHL, what’s it like finally getting there?Spurgeon:
Once you get here, it’s obviously a bit overwhelming the first little bit here. It’s a dream come true getting to play here. After a while, you get more comfortable with the guys and team systems and then you just feel a part of the team. So now I’m just trying to do my best to help the team win.Wild.com: So you’ve gotten more comfortable with the guys. Have you starting forming some bonds and friendships?Spurgeon:
Yeah, definitely. The first little bit, you’re sort of quiet, just listening and trying to learn the stuff but then after a month or two you sort of get to know the guys from being on the road as well, so you obviously build friendships and then after that they continue to grow.
Wild.com: Does that mostly come in the locker room or traveling or all of the above?Spurgeon:
Lots of traveling. You spend a lot of time together whether it’s dinners or breakfasts. You’re pretty much here together the entire day and then when you’re sleeping pretty much, because you’re rooming with the guys, so you get to know them that way as well and on the plane. Travel helps a lot.Wild.com: Is that more important for a young guy like yourself, whereas many others may have families, houses and all that?Spurgeon:
I guess everyone’s older once you get up here. It’s a bit different than junior when you’re still in school and everything like that. This is your job so lots of those guys have been around for a while, they’ve been in the same position that I was in at this point; they know that at the start you’re sort of more of the shy type and then you start to bond friendships.Wild.com: Any defensemen that have specifically taken you under their wing? Or any that you pay real close attention to when they’re playing?Spurgeon:
They’ve all been great, whether it’s just teaching you little things but obviously you just watch in practice and games and just try and pick up little things from each player because they’re all great defensemen. If you can implement a little bit of their game into yours as well, it makes you that much better.Wild.com: Have you been doing that throughout your career?Spurgeon:
Yeah, definitely. I grew up watching guys like Dan Boyle and Brian Rafalski – the smaller defensemen. I try to pattern my game after them through juniors and coming up here as well.Wild.com: What’s it like playing against them now?Spurgeon:
The first time you play against them, you’re sort of in awe. But after warm-ups, I sort of calm down and get into the game and that sort of goes away. When I look back on it this summer it will be something to remember.Wild.com: Anything you miss from juniors?Spurgeon:
There are some long bus rides. As much as they suck at the time, they’re lots of fun to get to bond with the guys, whether it’s just practical jokes or something like that. Obviously when you’re in juniors, you want to get out of it to come here, but when you look back on it, it was a lot of fun.