Wild names Dumba, Foligno alternate captains for 2021-22 season

Wild names Dumba, Foligno alternate captains for 2021-22 season
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Jared Spurgeon didn't spill the beans.

When Matt Dumba asked the Wild captain what the team was meeting about, Spurgeon told Dumba they would be discussing proper etiquette for players around the rink like tipping valets.

"He pulled the wool over my eyes," Dumba said.

The Wild named Dumba and Marcus Foligno alternate captains Saturday at training camp, a post-practice reveal at Tria Rink in St. Paul that included Spurgeon announcing the news and presenting Dumba and Foligno with Wild jerseys crested with 'A's.

"You're always surprised when you get an honor like this," Foligno said. "Humbled and excited at the same time. It was more so that the brass was in there and everyone. Everyone at camp was in the room, so it made it really special."

Dumba and Foligno replace Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who had their contracts bought out by the Wild in July.

Not only did those exits continue the dismantling of the team's previous core and signal a new chapter for the franchise, but they left two rare vacancies in the team's leadership committee; Parise and Suter were alternate captains after their arrival in 2012, and Spurgeon just became captain in January after Mikko Koivu didn't return — ending a 15-season run with the organization, including 11 seasons as the team's first full-time captain.

General Manager Bill Guerin and coach Dean Evason had multiple conversations about the openings in recent weeks, and there was a debate about the picks.

Although Foligno and Dumba did step in as alternate captains last season when Parise was out of the lineup, so did Jonas Brodin and Joel Eriksson Ek and both players are on long-term contracts. Dumba is signed for two more seasons, and Foligno is starting a three-year deal.

But contract length didn't matter to Guerin. The pair's team-first attitude was the difference, with Evason calling the decision to select the team's resident sparkplugs "unanimous." Evason and Guerin also consulted with Spurgeon.

"Vocal's one end of it," Evason said. "But then to actually go out and do it. They're likely the two most physical guys or two of the most physical guys on our team. So, it's one thing to rah-rah and what have you, but it's another to go out and perform and to do it."

This will be Dumba's ninth season with the Wild; among current players, only Spurgeon and Brodin have been with the team longer.

As for Foligno, nicknamed "Moose," he's entering his fifth season in Minnesota and is coming off his most productive campaign with the team after tallying 26 points (11 goals) in 39 games. The 30-year-old winger is known as a tenacious forechecker, shutdown specialist and the spokesman for the pulse of the team.

"This is a huge honor," said Foligno, who also captained his junior team.

Another energetic checker, Dumba and his wind-up from the point have become fixtures in the Wild's top-four on defense after the organization drafted him seventh overall in 2012.

He's also active in the community. He helped launch the Hockey Diversity Alliance and was recognized with the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2020 for his leadership qualities on and off the ice. Dumba was also a finalist last season for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

"The people here have been nothing but awesome to me," said Dumba, who has been a captain when playing internationally for Canada. "I'm really appreciative of that, and that's why I am in the community doing the things I want to because I'm passionate about it."

Still, the 27-year-old has been a constant in trade rumors — speculation that Dumba hopes will disappear now that he's an alternate captain.

"Matt's a very important person in our organization," Guerin said. "He's been very dedicated to us. There's been a lot of rumors about him out there. Hopefully, this gives him some peace of mind and he can just play hockey."

While Foligno's leadership style was shaped by his dad Mike, who captained Buffalo during his NHL career, he and Dumba both said they were influenced by Koivu.

What they want to do is make sure every player can be himself.

"I don't think we've ever had such a close-knit crew," Dumba said. "So, it is very exciting to see what we could potentially do this year, and hopefully me and Moose help support [Spurgeon] as best as we can and help facilitate a winning culture here."

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