Matt Dumba said he expects speculation that he might be traded to continue throughout this season, but the defenseman made it clear Thursday he wants to remain with the Minnesota Wild.
“It’s something at first you get kind of worked up about it,” Dumba said. “You’ve been in Minnesota so long and thinking about change scares you. This is where I want to be. I don’t want to move nowhere.”
Dumba has played all seven of his NHL seasons for the Wild, who selected him with the No. 7 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and the 26-year-old is under contract for three more seasons. But rumors that he might be traded began almost immediately after Minnesota signed defenseman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year, $42 million contract extension Sept. 15.
With Brodin and defensemen Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon each under contract for at least the next five seasons, the Wild might not be able to protect Dumba in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft to be held for the Seattle Kraken. Though general manager Bill Guerin said the Wild are not shopping him, Dumba said he understands that it’s part of a GM’s job to explore the trade market.
But Dumba made sure Guerin knows he doesn’t want to be traded.
“Billy knows that,” Dumba said. “But he also has to do his due diligence and do his job and listen to everything. He wouldn’t be a good GM if he did otherwise, you know? So we understand that and just the transparency between me and Billy has been good honesty. I’ve honestly parked a lot of those thoughts, and when I do see [trade rumors], it’s part of the business, right?
“I’ve been going through this for seven years now I’ve been on the block and I haven’t been moved yet, so I think I’m good.”
Dumba scored 24 points (six goals, 18 assists), fourth-most among Minnesota defensemen, in 69 games last season and has scored 174 points (62 goals, 112 assists) in 411 NHL games.
He is focused on getting ready for this season, which the Wild open at the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 14, and continuing his community work in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Dumba won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and have made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in their communities, last season for his fundraising efforts following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 while in custody of Minneapolis police, in order to support the rebuilding of local businesses damaged during the riots and protests in Minnesota.
Dumba, who is Filipino-Canadian, also has been committed to racial and social justice issues and the Hockey is for Everyone initiative. Last season, he helped form the Hockey Diversity Alliance, whose mission is to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey, and made an impassioned speech about standing up to racism before the Edmonton Oilers faced the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their best-of-5 series in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Aug. 1 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
Dumba said he received some backlash during the offseason for kneeling during the U.S. national anthem prior to the game between the Oilers and Blackhawks and for raising his right fist during the U.S. and Canadian anthems prior to the Wild’s games against the Vancouver Canucks in the Qualifiers. But Dumba said he’s received strong support in Minnesota.
“I was trying to ship my car down to [Arizona] this summer (where he was training) and the guy started saying some racist [comments] to me on the phone and saying that I should keep kneeling for my anthem and didn’t ship my car down,” Dumba said. “… A couple guys who work at my building (where he lives in Minnesota) caught wind of that and they were like, ‘Man, we’re on it. We’re coming down.’ So they [drove the car to Arizona]. That’s the kind of people I have around me. That’s how people in Minnesota have been awesome about it.”
Dumba said he hasn’t decided yet whether he will continue to raise his fist during the anthems this season. Regardless, he plans to let his work in the community speak for him.
“I’ve talked a lot about taking action, but there’s a lot more stuff coming: stuff with the HDA, stuff that I have planned here in the cities with people from Wild, with people in Minnesota hockey, some of the youth hockey programs around the city,” he said. “I’m going to let those actions, those are louder. Moving forward, I think people know where I sit on this stance … So I think my action will definitely speak louder than words in the coming years.”