Kuemper Fondly Recalls 2010-11 Rebels Season
Minnesota Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper reflects on the 2010-11 Western Hockey League season with a sense of delight and appreciation.
“I still look back at that year and it brings a smile to my face every time,” said Kuemper, who established Red Deer Rebels franchise records that season.
“We had such a good team that year. Some of the guys off that team I’m playing with and against this year,” he added, in reference to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton), Alex Petrovic (Florida), Byron Froese (Toronto) and Wild teammate Mathew Dumba, who on Sunday won gold with Canada at the world championship in Russia.
Over this three seasons with the Rebels, Kuemper established all-time marks for games played (178) and shutouts (19). In 2010-11 he set single-season records for shutouts (13) and goals-against average (1.86) while posting a save percentage of .933.
Kuemper, accordingly, was named the WHL and CHL goaltender of the year and the following season the 2009 sixth-round draft pick of the Wild was stopping pucks for the Houston Aeros in the AHL and the Ontario Reign of the ECHL.
“That (2010-11) season definitely allowed me to take the next step and become a pro and from there make my way up to the NHL,” he said.
Kuemper made his NHL debut in the 2012-13 campaign, split the following year between Minnesota and Houston and just completed his second full season with the Wild as the back-up to Devan Dubnyk.
“I’m just living a dream, a dream I’ve had since I was probably three years old,” he said. “It’s such a whirlwind. It’s hard to grasp right now, but I’m just trying to have as much fun with it as I can.
“I know when it’s all said and done I’ll look back at it and kind of go ‘wow!’.”
Kuemper, 26, returned to his hometown and off-season home in Saskatoon Monday after attending the first three days of the Memorial Cup tournament.
While in Red Deer he was able to socialize with numerous Rebels alumni, some of them former teammates and the others from different eras, including the 2001 Memorial Cup team.
“I’ve kept in touch with everyone but you don’t get a chance to see them often, at least not all altogether,” he said. “So it’s been pretty special to be here this weekend and obviously this is a huge tournament for the city and the surrounding area.
“As a former player, as an alumni, it’s so much fun to be able to be a part of it and spend some time with former teammates again.
“It’s cool to see so many of us who have moved on and been able to take it to the next level. When you have success like we did (in 2010-11) it kind of forms bonds and friendships you’re going to hold onto forever.”
Kuemper’s contract with Minnesota expired at the end of this season and therefore the six-foot-five stopper doesn’t know where he’ll be playing in the fall.
“I love the city and I love my teammates,” he said. “It would be great to go back there, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens (with contract negotiations).”