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Wild captain Jared Spurgeon breaks Nick Schultz’s franchise record — in front of him

He has played in 744 games with the Wild, the most by a defenseman in franchise history.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Calgary Flames
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

PHILADELPHIA — As he tried to downplay his own personal successes on Thursday morning at Wells Fargo Center, Wild captain Jared Spurgeon couldn’t help but smile when a special someone walked into the room.

Not even a minute after Spurgeon lauded how much former Wild defenseman Nick Schultz meant to him early in his career, in walked the man who has long held the franchise record for most games played by a defenseman. Schultz, who retired in 2017 after a 15-year career, is now an assistant coach with the Flyers.

After the interview wrapped, Spurgeon chopped it up with Schultz for a few minutes, doing so knowing he was about to break his franchise record. A few hours later, Spurgeon officially skated in his 744th game with the Wild, moving a game in front of Schultz.

“As a kid, that’s not really what you’re thinking of,” Spurgeon said of the franchise record. “As you get older, you realize how lucky you really are. Maybe when you’re young you sort of take it for granted. It’s definitely pretty cool to look back on, all the memories.”

It’s fitting that Spurgeon rewrote the record books on a night the Wild played the Flyers. If it weren’t for a handful of guys on the other side, Spurgeon might be working a regular job by now.

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He can thank Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher for signing him to an entry-level contract on Sept. 23, 2010. He can thank Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr for helping him navigate the minors during his early days with the Wild organization. He can thank Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo for offering instruction during their time together with the now-defunct Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.

All of those men played a vital role in Spurgeon’s rise from undrafted nobody to Mikko Koivu’s successor as captain of the organization. Those connections weren’t lost on Spurgeon in the hours leading up to the milestone moment.

“Every time we have an opportunity to work with a guy like that, it’s a real treat as a coach,” said Yeo, who coached Spurgeon with the Wild, as well. “We don’t enjoy playing against him because he’s so effective in everything that he does. That said, when we’re not, I’m definitely cheering for him, because he’s that high of a character person.”

Wild coach Dean Evason echoed Yeo’s sentiments. You’d be hard-pressed to find a coach who doesn’t absolutely adore Spurgeon.

“What I learned is he’s a tremendous leader and a tremendous competitor,” Evason said. “That’s an awesome accomplishment and very well-deserved.”

The next person Spurgeon can take aim at is Koivu. Spurgeon needs 285 more games to pass Koivu for the most games played in franchise history.

Asked what keeps him motivated after more than a decade in the league, Spurgeon replied, “You want to win.”

“That’s the main thing,” Spurgeon added. “You just want to hoist that Stanley Cup. That’s what keeps me going every day.”

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Briefly

Matt Dumba (lower-body injury) and Jordan Greenway (upper-body injury) are with the Wild on the current road trip. Neither will play a game as they continue to work their way back to full strength.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA WILDHOCKEY
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