By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week, the Wild will show the nation why Minnesota is the state of hockey at the NHL Winter Classic. But the Wild will be without a key player, captain Jared Spurgeon.

While he’s recovering from an injury, he continues to lead his team off the ice.

READ MORE: NHL Winter Classic: Justin Morneau’s Backyard Hockey Game Tradition

WCCO’s special correspondent Carly Zucker sat down with the team captain about his team’s success and hosting this marquee game. Here are some excerpts from their conversation:


Carly Zucker: As Wild fans — and the whole team as a whole — it seems like it is re-energized this year, that you guys are having fun. You guys really are enjoying each other. Talk about what it’s like in the locker room — like take us to the appropriate side of the locker room that we can talk about. The word culture is used a lot, but tell us what it’s like for you guys in the locker room.

Jared Spurgeon: I think it has to do a lot to with the fans being back in the building for us, this excitement of that everyday and normal schedule. But just being able to do stuff outside of the rink together is huge.

Zucker: You’ve had some time now as the captain of the Minnesota Wild, what has your experience been like so far?

Spurgeon: A lot of learning stuff behind the scenes, that’s for sure. A lot of things you don’t realize that you have to make the decisions on. And sometimes you’re the Debbie Downer telling the guys we can’t go out after a game or something like that. But it’s been good. There’s so many leaders in that room you can lean on and a lot of great people. So it’s not just myself and there’s a whole team effort.

Zucker: What is it like to raise your family here as a Minnesota Wild player, but just as a community member?

Spurgeon: Yeah, the city is awesome. I think everywhere around you have all options, whether it’s for the kids to do something, there’s something you can find every day. People here are so genuine and nice that you can get along with anyone and they’re very respectful. So we can’t say enough about how much we love the city. And we’re here more than we are back in Canada, so we call this home now.

Zucker: The Winter Classic is going to be cold, but it’s going to be fun. It’s finally happening. It was postponed; that was such a bummer. But you did a tour I’m sure of the facility already, out at Target Field. What was it like when you got there? And after all of this time you finally saw it unfolding right before your eyes.

Spurgeon: Yeah, it looks great. I was in there. And it wasn’t as cold as it’s supposed to be and it was freezing. So I hope the bodies in there help, but just the way they put it on with all the little things from the rinks behind the rink for the youth hockey to play games and stuff like that. It’s pretty cool and it’ll be great memories for them. And I think with being a baseball stadium, it’s a lot closer to compared to the football stadium we had in the past, so the people/crowd feels closer, so that’s pretty cool too. And I think there’s always something special about walking out of a dugout. They have the little skatey path to get to the rink. That’s pretty special, too. So they have a lot of stuff up their sleeves that I’m sure we don’t even know about until day-of, but it’s gonna be nice.