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Wild Grants Wish, Signs Villebrun To Contract

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Bridget Villebrun hasn't been a hockey fan her entire life, but as her father David put it, hockey came along when things got tough for her.

"It took away some of the scariness," David said.

Villebrun was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma last September. On Tuesday, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wild teamed up to help Bridget get her wish of becoming a Minnesota Wild player, signing her to a one-day contract.

"Getting the contract was a nice surprise for me," Villebrun said, standing in front of her stall in the Wild's locker room. "They actually told me that I'd be occupying Granlund's stall, so I thought that would be pretty cool."

The locker room stall belonged to her favorite player, Mikael Granlund. She was wearing a personalized "Villebrun" red Wild jersey, which was presented to her by General Manager Chuck Fletcher at a press conference following morning skate to announce her signing.

She wore the jersey plus a big smile as she stood in front of her new locker, nameplate and all, soaking in the moment, after taking in morning skate with her dad and her sister, Cass, and brother, Davis.

As she stood in front of her stall, her new teammates filed in, getting a chance to meet and chat with Villebrun before tonight's game.

That included new stall-mate Zach Parise, who noticed Villebrun wearing his familiar number 11.

"Oh, you took my number?" Parise asked. "I guess I'm out for tonight."

David said his daughter was a quick study when it came to learning the game.

"Hockey came toward the beginning of my treatment," Villebrun said. "I'd watch it with my dad a lot."

Her father said he used to play a game with her where he'd give her a player's jersey number, and Villebrun would have to guess what player it was. He said it brought he and his daughter closer.

Those players who she has watched on television became her new teammates, and a part of Villebrun's day, which will include watching warmups from the Zamboni tunnel before making her way up to a suite for the game.

"It's nice that we play a game, and it gives us the ability to touch people in their lives in a deep way," Ryan Carter said. "I don't know that other jobs get that opportunity, so it's nice that all it takes is a couple of moments to say 'hi.'"

As she was getting ready to leave the locker room, her other stall-mate, rookie Tyler Graovac snuck in to put away some gear.

"Got a new stall-mate?" Graovac asked. "You have to play well tonight; big game."

She first met Wild captain Mikko Koivu, before getting to meet Granlund.

Parise came in with Carter and Nate Prosser. The three of them were followed by Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula, and Marco Scandella.

Devan Dubnyk came out to say hello.

"I heard we signed you for a day," said the Wild's goalie. "We have a good chance to win now."

In walked Thomas Vanek and Darcy Kuemper. Jason Pominville came out to meet his new teammate and asked her if she needed a stick, before retreating to the rack to get her one, but not before making sure to sign it.

Matt Dumba was the last player to meet her in the locker room.

"[Granlund] is your favorite player?" Dumba asked. "He's mine, too."

It's all happening on a day where the Wild will host its Hockey Fights Cancer Night. With plenty of Wild apparel to normally choose from, Villebrun said she was wearing a Hockey Fights Cancer t-shirt under her jersey.

"Seeing your kid do something like that just make you happy on the inside," David said.

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