Minnesota Hockey Journal

March 2018

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M H J O N L I N E . C O M | M A R C H 2 0 1 8 28 P R E S E N T E D B Y Russo's Rants would believe he would be the one to ful- fill that dream. As a freshman at Elk River, Prosser was 5-foot-2. He was a self-described shrimp, "a little runt," yet by his sophomore year he grew 10 inches and would ultimately graduate at 6-2. "I was a late bloomer," Prosser said. As the younger broth- er, Prosser looked up to his hockey-playing brother, who was three years older. Whatever Luke was doing, Nate just tagged along. Before he was even 3, father, Chris, would put skates on Nate and he'd just push a chair around the ice trying to keep up with his brother. Prosser, his entire childhood, didn't have a lot of friends who played hockey, so he'd play with Luke and his friends. They'd throw him on defense and in goal and he'd have to hack and whack to survive. "I think it helped me with my devel- opment throughout the years," Prosser said. "I was always playing against his friends. My brother didn't really like it. He kind of got annoyed with me. I was the annoying little brother, but I owe a lot to my brother just from the fact he tolerated me for that long and just let me be there with him." Next steps Prosser would play a couple seasons in the USHL before ultimately committing to Colorado College, where he began as a 20-year-old freshman and played four years. He developed into a responsible, team- first guy and after being named to the all-WCHA Second Team his senior year, Prosser signed a free-agent contract with his hometown Wild. He arrived in Nashville to join the team and wasn't supposed to play the final few weeks. He was only supposed to practice, but with Marek Zidlicky and Nick Schultz injured, Prosser made his NHL debut April 5, 2010, in Edmonton. He assisted on an Andrew Brunette goal and played the final three games of that season. "That was a big step for me," he said. Locker room guy There have been several times over the years that Prosser thought his NHL career could be close to ending. He twice signed free- agent contracts with the St. Louis Blues after the Wild chose not to re-sign him. Both times, once in training camp, once after Thanksgiving this season, the Wild reclaimed him off the waiver wire after not fitting into the Blues' lineup. One reason the Wild like him is the fact that Prosser adds depth to the blue line and is one of the most popular teammates in Wild history. He's a good-in-the-room guy, as they say. He's a good penalty killer, is willing to take a hit, and stands up for his teammates. "I used to teach Nate that he'd have to flick that switch on the back of the helmet when he got on the ice and when he'd get off the ice, the game's over, you've got to un-flick it," Chris Prosser said. "You have to get to the lobby of the rink you're in and flash your pearly whites and hug your mom and call your grandma and do your homework and go to church and be a good citizen. I told Nate if he couldn't dif- ferentiate between that when he played and when he was off the ice, I'd take his equipment to Play it Again Sports and that would be it." Whether it's a young defenseman playing alongside me or an older guy and leader in our locker room, I just want to be a positive, upbeat, approachable guy who can be talked to about anything." – N A T E P R O S S E R

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