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The legacy of Matt Dumba and what the Wild stand to lose

Talking to reporters Monday afternoon, Dumba confronted the reality that his time in Minnesota might be over

NHL: Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues
Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) reacts after scoring against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri, on Dec. 31, 2022.
Jeff Curry / USA Today Sports

ST. PAUL -- Even if Matt Dumba wanted to go back into the game last Friday at the Xcel Energy Center, his best friend Jonas Brodin wasn’t going to let that happen.

They talked in the Minnesota Wild locker room at intermission like they always do, only this time Dumba admitted to Brodin that he didn’t feel like himself after hitting his head along the boards. At that moment, Dumba’s health was the only thing on Brodin’s mind, and he immediately sought out trainer John Worley to make sure everyone followed protocol.

When the Wild paraded out of the tunnel shortly thereafter, Dumba stayed in the back, sitting out the final 20 minutes of what might have been his last game with Minnesota. As most everyone knows by now, the Wild went on to lose Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Dallas Stars, ending their 2022-23 season.

Asked about the exchange, Dumba’s eyes started to well up with tears when he talked about Brodin looking out for him when perhaps he wasn’t.

“We’ve played some awesome hockey together,” Dumba said. “More than anything, though, he’s a true friend.”


Naturally, Brodin expressed similar feelings when talking about Dumba and the unbreakable bond they’ve formed over the past decade.

“We grew up together,” Brodin said. “He’s a good friend of mine.”

Looking at the big picture, it’s easy to see why Dumba was so emotional on Monday afternoon. With the Wild getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Stars last week, the 28-year-old defenseman is now forced to confront the reality that his time in Minnesota might be over.

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“It’s pretty crazy to look back at it and see 10 or 11 years just go by in the blink of an eye,” Dumba said. “I love Minny. I made so many friends here and put down some roots. It means a lot to me.”

It’s no secret that Wild general manager Bill Guerin will have some salary-cap constraints in the coming months, and with Dumba in need of a new contract, the Wild likely won’t be able to afford to bring him back. This is something Dumba talked openly about a few times. He tried to soak up every single moment this season because of the uncertainty regarding his future.

Realistically, even if Dumba agreed to take a significant pay cut, the Wild still might decide to move on from him. As of right now, Dumba said he hasn’t talked numbers with Guerin, adding that they had a good conversation on Monday during his exit interview.

“I really don’t know what lies ahead,” Dumba said. “I haven’t really given it too much thought. We’ll see how the chips fall. Just kind of have to play it by ear.”

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba in action against the Dallas Stars on in Game 2 of their NHL playoff series April 19 in Dallas.
Jerome Miron / USA Today Sports

As polarizing as Dumba has been for the fan base throughout his career, it’s hard to imagine the Wild without him at this point. He has become a face of the franchise since being picked in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, establishing himself as a constant on the blue line, and maybe more importantly, as an unquestioned leader in the locker room.


“He brings guys together, and he plays hard every time he steps on the ice,” veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “I think he leads the way that way. I definitely feel lucky that I got to play with him for a year and a half here. I guess we’ll see what happens this summer.”

“He’s among the more vocal guys, if not the most vocal guy, on this team,” veteran winger Ryan Reaves said. “I could see how sad he was at the end of the game thinking it might be his last game (with the Wild). You never know what happens. If I’m back, I hope to see him back.”

If this is indeed the end of the road for Dumba, the Wild will lose a good player, and Minnesota will lose an even better person. As much as Dumba has done on the ice throughout his career, he’s done even more off the ice, using his platform to make a difference at every turn.

Asked what he’s most proud of from his time in Minnesota, Dumba pointed to his involvement in the community as a whole. Whether it’s breaking down barriers internationally as a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, or creating opportunities locally with his annual Hockey Without Limits Camp, he’s done everything in his power to grow the game.

“It’s definitely not just me,” Dumba said. “It’s the whole organization here.”

Which makes it even more difficult for him to think about the possibility of moving on.

“My heart is definitely here in Minny,” Dumba said. “I want to win here.”

No matter what happens this offseason, Dumba made it clear that Minnesota will always be home, even if he’s playing somewhere else.



This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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