No NHL team had fewer home wins (16) than the Minnesota Wild last season. Matt Dumba had to watch a lot of losing nights as he sat out injured for the final three-and-a-half months after rupturing his right pectoralis muscle in a December fight.
It wasn’t easy for the Wild defenseman to be unable to help his teammates out and right the ship of a season that would end with their lowest point total over a full season since 2011-12 and lead to a summer of change.
“Yeah, that was a tough. That was hard for me watching that, but there’s no real explanation for it,” Dumba told NBC Sports. “It can be electric in there, especially if we get a good run going. People in Minnesota, it’s the state of hockey, it’s just waiting to erupt. I know the new guys who come on board and say how crazy it is here when we are in the playoffs. For the guys who missed out on that last season, it’s unfortunate. We’ve got to get back there and show them.”
We spoke to Dumba at the NHL Player Media Tour earlier this month about his season-ending fight, the Wild’s offseason, and more.
Q. Have the Wild been running in place?
DUMBA: “I think so, yeah, since I’ve been with the squad. The scenery’s nice in the playoffs but you’ve got to work your way up the mountain. I think that’s where we’re trying to climb. The climb this year is just take that next step and really just start getting up there.”
“We’re not satisfied with just making it to that first round or to the second round. I’ve done that. We want bigger and better things for our team. I think everyone on our squad, just the morale and talking to the guys, that’s what we need to do is band together and find a way to make this happen.”
Q. Front office change. Did you see that coming? Does it affect anything you guys do on the ice?
DUMBA: “No, I don’t think really affects all that much just initially. I’ve heard all good things about Bill [Guerin] and his vision, what he wants to do here and how he wants to play, I think you’ll definitely see the transition this year. We plan on making some big moves in this division.”
Q. You were injured in a fight. What happened there?
DUMBA: “It was just kind of a wild punch that just kind of got away from me, just kept extending away from the body. There was a pop and I knew it wasn’t good. That was unfortunate, just a freak accident.”
Q. Have you retired as a fighter?
DUMBA: “I can’t say that. Like any fighter, any competitor, athlete, that’s why you come back, that’s why you train so hard, to get back to where you once were. I still believe it’s part of this game and a necessary part of this game. I’m not ruling myself out or jumping into a fight in my first game. Whatever happens, happens.”
Q. Were you upset a team in your division won the Stanley Cup?
DUMBA: “That rattles me. I don’t want to see anyone win. I just turn off the TV. I missed hockey a lot this year, so I did watch the playoffs, but certain teams I had a tough time watching and my friends knew that. It’s tough, it’s really hard to say. But like any guy, you want to be there, you want to see your team have that success. It’s hard when you see one of your rivals do so well.”
Q. Do you see red when you see Blues?
DUMBA: “I think there’s little rivalries in the Central with every team. I think that’s what gets you up for those games. It kind of pushes you and your your game to another level. I’m always happen and excited to play those games, but there’s no love there, that’s for sure.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.