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Wild captain Jared Spurgeon set to return from lower-body injury

He hasn’t played since a Nov. 20 contest against the Florida Panthers

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Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon (46) skates with the puck against Pittsburgh Penguins center Evan Rodrigues (9) during the first period Nov. 6, 2021, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports
USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Wild captain Jared Spurgeon was set to make his return to the lineup in Thursday’s late game against the San Jose Sharks. He has missed the previous eight after suffering a lower-body injury during a Nov. 20 contest against the Florida Panthers.

Asked about the injury itself, Spurgeon confirmed that he went back for a puck and something didn’t feel right.

“You never really know,” he said. “It was sort of wait until the next day to really figure things out. It’s shorter than it could have been, so that’s good.”

Fortunately for Spurgeon, he didn’t have to rush back; the Wild were 7-0-1 in his absence, earning points in every game he missed.

“I think it just shows the depth that we have,” Spurgeon said. “I’m just going to come back in and try to fit in with the way they’re playing right now.”

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Shaw debuts

Wild prospect Mason Shaw was set to make his NHL debut in Thursday’s game, a special moment for the 23-year-old winger that felt like it might never come.

It’s not often that a player recovers from an torn anterior cruciate ligament on three separate occasions, then goes on to play at the highest level.

“There’s been some obstacles along the way that have challenged me,” said Shaw, a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. “But I truly believe that it led me to this point for a reason. There might have been (some doubts), but I never stopped believing and here we are today.”

Unfortunately for Shaw, his parents couldn’t get to San Jose fast enough to watch his NHL debut.

He found out he was playing shortly before Thursday’s morning skate, so there wasn’t enough time for his parents to book a flight from Wainwright, Alberta. Plus, certain COVID-19 protocols make it tough to cross the Canadian border at the drop of a hat.

“I sent my parents a text as soon as I found out,” Shaw said. “I know they’ll be watching, for sure.”

Dumba out

While the Wild got some reinforcements on the blue line in the form of Spurgeon, defenseman Matt Dumba was expected to miss Thursday’s game due to an illness.

“It’s not COVID protocol,” coach Dean Evason said, “but he’s under the weather.”

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Any time a player wakes up feeling sick these days, there’s more stress associated with it than in the past. Is it simply the common cold? Or is it COVID?

“No question,” Evason said. “Everyone’s scared to death to get it. You don’t want it, right? You don’t want to miss time.”

Gaudreau update

Speaking of missing time, winger Freddy Gaudreau hasn’t played since entering COVID protocol before a Nov. 30 contest against the Arizona Coyotes.

Though he’s not currently on the West Coast road trip, Evason hinted that Gaudreau could join the team at some point over the weekend. The Wild play the Kings in Los Angeles on Saturday, and the Golden Knights Sunday in Las Vegas.

“I can’t say when because we’re not sure when he comes out if everything is right,” Evason said. “All of that gets done first. But we’re hoping that he’ll be here.”

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