Every time Jared Spurgeon walks into the arena in Calgary, he remembers suiting up for his first NHL game there.

The veteran also recalls wondering if he'd play another.

Fast forward 12 years and Spurgeon has logged more games with the Wild than any other defenseman in franchise history, sits on the cusp of 100 career goals and is in his second season as team captain.

Now he can also include Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominee on his ever-growing resume. Each team has a player chosen by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association to compete for the award, which honors the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

"It's definitely been a fun journey so far and one we're looking to add something to," said Spurgeon, who left Sunday's victory in Nashville because of an upper body injury.

A franchise pillar, Spurgeon also is the backbone of the Wild defense, but he didn't start out in either role. He joined the Wild on a tryout after going unsigned by the Islanders, who drafted Spurgeon 156th overall in the fifth round in 2008.

"I felt that I could prove myself," Spurgeon said. "Just wanted an opportunity."

After getting that chance with the Wild, Spurgeon received a contract and then a call-up from the minors to make his NHL debut against the Flames on Nov. 29, 2011 (his 21st birthday). By the following season, he was full time with the Wild and planting the seeds for a reputation as a savvy, reliable and underrated defender.

"To this day, every day you come you have to prove yourself I feel, and you have to improve your game," said Spurgeon, who's in the second season of a seven-year, $53,025,000 million contract. "You can't be satisfied with where you're at."

Aside from being the all-time team leader in goals (99), game-winning goals (17) and blocked shots (1,282) by a defenseman, he also ranks second in assists (245) and points (344). His 771 games all-time trail only Mikko Koivu, whom Spurgeon succeeded as the team's only second full-time captain when he was appointed Jan. 3, 2021.

"There's been a lot of people that helped along the way," Spurgeon said.

This season, the 5-foot-9, 166-pound Edmonton native has 10 goals and 29 assists for 39 points to go along with a plus-30 rating. The 32-year-old leads Wild defensemen in scoring and goals, and he became the franchise leader in games by a defenseman March 3 when he logged No. 744 to surpass Nick Schultz.

Since debuting in the NHL, Spurgeon has the fewest penalty minutes among NHL defensemen (130) that have appeared in at least 600 games. Last season, he was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship combined with skill.

And there's still more hockey to be played.

"Obviously, we call this home, and the organization has been great to me," said Spurgeon, who has four children with his wife, Danielle. "There's one thing missing that I want to bring back to them for showing that faith."