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Wild Veteran Cullen Counting His Remaining Seasons Carefully

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(credit: CBS) Mike Max
Mike Max returned to WCCO-TV as a sports reporter and anchor in Apr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For NHL veterans, the lockout is making the reality of a 2012-13 season quite cloudy.

For now, the Minnesota Wild are at Ridder Arena growing tired of working out with each other.

“It’s been real hard,” Zach Parise said. “This is a time of year you would expect to be 10 to 15 games into the season. It’s cold out, and it’s hockey weather.”

There’s no question that the NHL lockout affects everyone, but it’s the veterans who have the shorter window when it comes to making up for financial losses.

Minnesota-native Matt Cullen, 36, is well aware of a finite career.

Contracts become more difficult to come by, and the game he loves has a shelf life.

“As you get later on in your career, you appreciate each year more and more, and know you’re not guaranteed another year,” Cullen said.

But he’s also a student of the game, and the center understands there was a time when older players did something for him.

“Guys were in the same position I was 10 years ago, when I was a younger guy in the league,” Cullen said. “And you have to do what’s best for the group.”

So he prepares for what he hopes will be a green light for one more season, with the goal of playing many more.

“I’ll probably play as long as they let me,” he said. “I have a lot of fun here, and playing at home makes me feel young again.”

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