WHL ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: JARED SPURGEONNov 03, 2011 - 04:13 MDT
Written By: Watts, Jesse
Jared Spurgeon spent five years patrolling the blue line for the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs. Now, the 21-year-old from Edmonton, AB, is earning his stripes in the NHL in his second season with the Minnesota Wild.
Chosen in the 10th round, 188th overall, by the Chiefs in the 2004 WHL Bantam Draft, Spurgeon played 266 regular-season games in Spokane from 2005-10, scoring 37 goals and 133 assists for 170 points. He added another two goals and 14 points over 40 post-season games, and helped the Chiefs capture the WHL Championship and the MasterCard Memorial Cup in 2008.
A smaller rearguard, standing only 5’9”, Spurgeon has relied on his keen hockey sense, excellent skating ability and his intelligence to become a solid two-way defender who has the ability to generate offence from the point.
His skill set and smarts earned him a promotion to the NHL in his first season as a professional last year, as he wound up playing 53 games for the Wild as a rookie in 2010-11, notching four goals and 12 points. He also helped the Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, advance all the way to the Calder Cup final following the end of Minnesota’s season.
Now, Spurgeon is aiming to establish a bigger role for himself in his second season in the NHL with the Wild. Yet, he always remembers fondly his time in the WHL with the Chiefs, and credits his five seasons in the WHL with helping him get to where he is today.
CATCHING UP WITH…JARED SPURGEON
On life in the National Hockey League…
“It’s pretty fun, playing up here. Obviously, you have your ups and downs, whether it’s injuries or bad games, but it’s mostly been uphill for me. I’m always working to get better and more comfortable here. It’s a huge jump from junior to professional hockey. There is a big difference in the strength and skill of the guys you’re playing with and against. But, you also see a lot of guys who are coming out of the CHL, so you see a lot of familiar faces. I think I was well-prepared for the NHL after playing in the WHL.”
On his transition to the NHL level…
“Obviously, I’m not a big guy, so I’ve been more of a puck-moving defenseman who can make good passes and get the puck to the forwards. When you first step into the NHL, you don’t really have the confidence to make big plays, and you’re kind of in awe of being in the NHL and playing against guys you have watched over the years. You’re worried about making mistakes, so you play pretty cautious. But, when that first mistake happens, you relax a bit and you start to get more comfortable, and things start to fall into place a bit more.”
On his personal expectations for his sophomore season…
“I’d like to be an offensive threat, but I also like to think of myself as an all-around player who can play in any situation. I hope that I can succeed in any situation I am put into, and am working hard to make the most of those chances. In the end, I’m looking to do anything I need to do to help the team get wins. If we are winning, then anything I can contribute is fine for me.”
On living in St. Paul, Minnesota…
“There are some similarities. We get the same type of weather, so it feels a bit more like home. Obviously, it’s a bigger city – two cities, actually – and there are more people. They love hockey, here, and when you get into big games, and there’s a big crowd and it’s loud in your building, it gives you that extra boost. Being in a hockey market like Minnesota makes it really nice to play.”
On keeping up with the Spokane Chiefs…
“I know more than a few guys on that team that were there when I played there, so I keep up with them. I usually go to the WHL Website and check up on what’s happening and to see how they are doing. I talk with Bobby Brett and Tim Speltz, because they were such a huge influence on my career and development. I wanted to get out to Spokane for a visit in the summer, but it was such a short off-season since I went to the AHL finals with Houston.”
On growing up in the WHL…
“It was huge. When you move away from home as a young kid, and you live with a billet family, it’s a big change. My billet family had such a great influence on me. The Chiefs’ organization treated me so well and had such a big impact on where I am now, with people like Tim Speltz and Bill Peters and all the people around you helping you out so much. Obviously, the WHL prepares you so well for the next level because it teaches you the lifestyle of being a professional. Hockey is your job, but you also have to focus on school, so it helps you learn to handle responsibilities in many aspects of your life.”
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