Jonas Brodin was sitting in his locker stall laughing hysterically last week as Matt Dumba chatted away a few inches to his left. Dumba was talking and talking and talking, which if you know the charismatic Wild defenseman, is hardly abnormal.
But suddenly it was evident that Dumba, raised in Calgary, Alberta, was talking to Brodin … in Swedish.
“He’s actually very good,” Brodin said, smiling. “Better than my English.”
“Please,” said Dumba. “Brods is hilarious. He does a good job with his use of sarcasm and slang.”
Brodin, a soft-spoken, Swede who goes about his daily business with the same poise he plays with on the ice, is best friends with Dumba, the self-described “wild, crazy, loud,” heavily-tattooed second-year pro whose race is, as he jokes, “a bit of everything.”
“We’re different people. I’m way more outgoing, Brods is quiet. But when we’re together, we’re just homies chilling,” Dumba said, causing Brodin, already entering his fourth season after debuting at age 19, to almost bust a gut with laughter.
Brodin, 22, and Dumba, 21, are like the ultimate odd couple. They finish each other’s sentences, know everything about each other, laugh at each other’s jokes and admittedly spend basically every waking moment away from the rink together, usually at Marco Scandella’s pad with fellow teammate Christian Folin playing video games and pool.
Brodin and Dumba have hit it off since they roomed together at the Wild’s 2012 development camp. They love the same music, share each other’s sense of style and love the same Twin Cities’ restaurants (Burch Steak) and stores (Burberry). They compete with each other over just about everything and are now defense partners together heading into Saturday’s home opener against the St. Louis Blues.
It has the makings of one dynamic tandem, and a lot is because of their synchronicity off the ice.
“It’s exciting knowing that we have this opportunity,” Dumba, selected seventh overall in 2012 a year after the Wild chose Brodin with the 10th overall pick. “We’re such great friends, it helps us find that chemistry on the ice because we can talk about every little play.”
“Yeah,” deadpanned defenseman Jared Spurgeon, “Dums does the talking for both of them.”
During a recent roundtable with the Star Tribune, Brodin and Dumba, two of the most mobile, exciting, young blue-liners in hockey, talked about their friendship and their style on and off the ice.
They have the same pregame routines. Brodin taught Dumba a relaxing way to get ready for games.
They do this at their individual homes or in their hotel rooms on the road after taking their afternoon naps. Lying on his back, Brodin puts on headphones, turns up the music, points his legs skyward and presses them against the wall for several minutes.
“Flushes out my legs,” Brodin said, before asking Dumba how long he does it for. “Twenty minutes,” Dumba said. “It feels actually unbelievable.”
Before Saturday’s game against the Blues, watch Brodin and Dumba toward the end of warmups. The young defensemen head to the bench, hang out for a bit, chitchat about God knows what, swig some liquid and begin a follow-the-leader game of give-and-go.
Finally, the two post up at opposite walls the width of the rink and saucer passes to one another.
“When you had the mumps last year, I didn’t know what to do,” Dumba said to Brodin.
“Seriously,” responded Brodin. “It was weird. A couple exhibition games we didn’t play together, I was looking for you. I did it by myself.”
Dumba laughed: “Me, too. I actually skated around by myself like a loser.”
Their only battles come when they play EA Sports’ NHL 16.
“We usually get into a fight if the other cellies too much after goals,” Dumba said.
Who’s better? “Depends what team you are,” Brodin said. “They’re heated games,” Dumba said. “For sure, you can take advantage if you’re a bad team.”
“We like the all-offense teams,” said Brodin. “Get you some Ovi [Alex Ovechkin] or [Ryan] Getzlaf, they don’t get knocked off the puck.” Dumba added.
At the end of every practice, Brodin and Dumba play a game they call, “Knockdown.” They “sauce” 10 pucks on their forehand and backhand to each other. Whoever bats down the most pucks without them touching the boards is the winner.
“As of late, I’m the champ,” Dumba said.
Tattoos, no tattoos
The more time you spend with Brodin and Dumba, the more you realize how special their friendship is.
Dumba and his brother, Calgary Hitmen goalie Kyle Dumba, put together the pregame warmup music for all Wild games, and Brodin is in total agreement with the selections.
Off the ice, they both love rap and house music.
“Fetty Wap,” said Dumba.
“Yeah, Fetty Wap,” said Brodin.
Dumba has more than a dozen tattoos, including the entirety of one of his arms, his back and chest. His two most special tattoos are tributes to his late grandmother on his arm and ribs.
Brodin doesn’t have any tattoos, “but I think about it. I don’t know where to start.”
Dumba chimes in, chanting, “Sleeve, sleeve, sleeve.”
“Yeah,” Brodin said, “I want one … or a couple.”
It’s clear how much they respect each other’s game. Brodin and Dumba were each asked what in the other’s game does he wish he possessed.
“Just his poise,” Dumba said. “He just never seems to be in trouble where I can be a little more … crazy. He’s always in the right position it seems. His vision is just crazy. It feels like he has eyes in the back of his head. The way he skates, he’s sick. He’s a different breed. The guy’s an animal.”
“His shot,” Brodin said. “His onesie [one-timer]. The way he jumps up ice and is always that offensive threat all the time.”
“I like funny movies,” Brodin said. “Yeah, all comedies,” added Dumba, before asking Brodin, “Did you see the Interview?” “No, I haven’t,” said Brodin. “Oh, it’s hilarious,” said Dumba. “You have to see it.”
“I like Superbad,” said Brodin, smiling.
“My dream car is the Audi R8,” Brodin said while Dumba tried hard to come up with his ideal car.
“I think you like the Ferrari 458 Italia,” Brodin said. “Oh yeah, that would be pretty sick.”
“Actually, don’t you like the Lamborghini, what do you call it, Huracan?” asked Brodin.
“Oh yeah, the Huracan,” Dumba said. “Yeah, that’s a beast. I want that.”
Who dresses better?
“I wear Hugo Boss suits. We both have pretty good style,” Brodin said. “European style,” said Dumba, causing Brodin to giggle.
“Sick, tight, slim cut, slim fit,” Dumba said. “I throw a little flair in mine. I still like rocking my high tops.”
“He likes no socks when he wears loafers,” Brodin said. “I can’t do that.”
“My dad, Charle,” said Dumba. “I want to take care of my family, my friends one day, provide for them.”
“Me too,” said Brodin. “My dad, Stefan. On the ice, [Peter] Forsberg when I was a kid, then [Nicklas] Lidstrom.”
“Me, Jarome [Iginla],” said Dumba. “Now, [Montreal’s] P.K. Subban. I look up to him. I think our games have similarities, but also differences, too. At the end of the day, I want to be my own player.”
Favorite form of social media?
“Instagram,” they both agree. “We like to show the fans we’re actually hanging out and doing these things,” said Dumba. “I think it’s cool, and it’s not a huge private thing.”
“I like Twitter, but I don’t tweet,” said Brodin.
“Except his first tweet in like three years last year was to chirp me, and people loved it,” Dumba said, both erupting in laughter.
Last year, Brodin signed a new six-year, $25 million contract. Dumba is in the final year of his contract before restricted free agency. His hope is to remain a Wild player and his best friend’s teammate for years.
“There’s a lot of pressure going into a contract year,” Dumba said. “It’s a big year for me. But at the same time, I’m just going to have fun with it and do what I always do. I play a game. But it would definitely be awesome continuing to be part of this organization because I love it here.
“It’s pretty exciting what we have in store. Everyone’s charged up.”
Thursday night in Colorado, after an outstanding preseason, Brodin and Dumba uncharacteristically had a rough first game of the season.
The Wild rallied from three goals down for a 5-4 victory, but Dumba walked up to Brodin in the locker room afterward and whispered, “That wasn’t a good start.”
Brodin put his hand on Dumba’s shoulder and said, “Just a bad game. We’ll get better now.”
Little doubt they will.