His arrival might have been a couple of weeks early, but Colby Hunt couldn’t have timed it better. The first child of Wild defenseman Brad Hunt and his wife, Katie, Colby was born on Wednesday — right in the middle of a three-day break in the schedule.
“It was luck, for sure,” Brad Hunt said Thursday, still wearing his hospital bracelet after the Wild’s practice at Tria Rink. “He wasn’t due until April 11. To be able to be in there, just to see life happen, it was something really special.’ ”
The former Bemidji State defenseman has found new life in his career, too, since coming to the Wild from Vegas on Jan. 21. Friday, he will face the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena as a regular in the Wild lineup.
Hunt played only 13 games for Vegas before the trade, following a career-high 45 in 2017-18. With the Wild, he has logged 24 games, including the past 20 in a row. It’s a welcome change for a player whose NHL body of work includes 115 games with five teams since 2014.
“It’s something I’ve worked hard for a really long time,” said Hunt, now part of the second defensive pair with Jonas Brodin. “You pay your dues. No matter what the circumstance, always be a good teammate and have a positive attitude.
“I think that’s what’s helped me stick around for a long time. Now I get my chance to play, and it’s really cool. I just want to take it and run with it.”
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said it took time for Hunt to adapt to being in the lineup every day.
Since being teamed with Brodin, Boudreau said, Hunt has improved. In the Wild’s most recent game, a 1-0 loss to Nashville on Monday, he played 19 minutes, 17 seconds — his second-highest total this season.
“Initially, he was probably not used to getting the kind of minutes he was getting,” Boudreau said. “But as it’s turned out, when he’s become a regular on our team, he’s played better and better. I like his progress, I like what he’s doing, I like his compete. And that’s really good.”
Hunt enjoyed his time in Vegas. Friday, he will be curious — and grateful — to experience it as an on-ice visitor.
“It’s going to be special to go back,” he said. “But I’m really happy I’m with the Minnesota Wild. It’s been incredible.”
On the move
Center Joel Eriksson Ek, who has missed seven games because of a lower-body injury, practiced Thursday and is expected to rejoin the lineup against Vegas. That means Luke Kunin, who had been playing at center, will move back to wing.
Kunin was both comfortable and effective at center, but Boudreau doesn’t plan to move him between the positions, as he did with former Wild forward Charlie Coyle. The coach wants to keep Kunin at wing except for emergency fill-in duty.
“This was out of necessity. There were just no other centers available,” Boudreau said. “We think he’s a lot better winger than he is a center. I thought he played really, really good at wing, but it was pleasant to see that he could go in at center and do an adequate job.”
Boudreau said winger Zach Parise, held out of the past two games because of a lower-body injury, has “made quite an improvement.” Parise practiced Thursday. Boudreau expects to make a game-time decision on whether Parise plays Friday.
• The Iowa Wild signed Gophers defenseman Jack Sadek to an amateur tryout agreement Thursday. A seventh-round pick by the Wild in 2015, Sadek, of Lakeville, played in 125 games over four seasons with the Gophers, with 10 goals and 33 assists.
• Wild forward Jason Zucker also welcomed a child Wednesday. His wife, Carly, gave birth to daughter Stella, making the Zuckers a family of five. Seven babies have been born to current Wild players and their wives or partners this season.
• The Wild on Wednesday announced that Victoria Mason, wife of goaltending coach Bob Mason, has died. Victoria, 61, had been diagnosed with stage 4 urothelial cancer in 2017