Matt Read's new contract with the Minnesota Wild is bringing him back to the State of Hockey, where he played collegiate hockey and spends his offseasons.
Matt Read is from Ontario and has played his entire professional career in Philadelphia, but in his mind, he’s coming home.
The 32-year-old winger signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Minnesota Wild this offseason, bringing him back to the state where he played four years of collegiate hockey and spends his summers training.
“I'm excited for putting on the Wild jersey,” Read said on the Wild’s Pondcast with Kevin Falness. “It's going to definitely be different not going back to Philadelphia for the first time in seven years. I'm unsure what to expect, this is only the second organization I've played for, so, not too sure what to expect. Hopefully, right off the bat, it all goes well.”
The move represents a big change for Read, who skated for seven seasons with the Flyers after finishing up a standout four-year career with Bemidji State, where he lead the team in scoring in each of his first three seasons en route to back-to-back national tournaments and a Frozen Four appearance in 2009. With 65 goals and 143 points, he graduated as the school’s top scorer in its Division I era.
It was enough to earn him a UFA contract with the Flyers in 2011, and he started his NHL career off with a bang in 2011-12, scoring 24 goals and 47 points as a rookie. A second 20-goal campaign in 2013-14 was enough for Philadelphia brass to reward him with a four-year deal worth $14.5 million.
His production decreased in recent seasons—he added 30 goals over his final 241 games with the NHL club—and became a player whose $3.625 million cap hit was buried in the minors as he spent a big chunk of the 2017-18 season with AHL Lehigh Valley. The demotion helped changed his perspective.
“Last year, I had a humbling experience being in the minors for most of the year and being up and down with the Flyers,” he said. “You don't take anything for granted and I learned to love the game more and more through adversity last season. I've taken a new view on how hockey is and how life is.”
The contract with the Wild represents a fresh start for Read, and he is well aware of what’s at stake.
“It'll be a tale of what the rest of my career looks like,” he said. The best place to begin that tale, then, is where it all began for Read in the first place: back in the State of Hockey.
“I talked to my agent when I discovered I wasn't coming back to Philadelphia,” he said “I was like, 'Oh, what about the Wild? That would be a great spot.' and [it was] very lucky that we concluded to signing here.”
While it will be an unfamiliar professional setting for him, Read already knows some of his new teammates, having skated with goalie Devan Dubnyk on Team Canada for the 2013 World Championships and riding shotgun with Zach Parise in Da Beauty League during the summers. It’s enough to have a degree of comfort when training camp opens, though that will just be the start of things.
Should he stick with the big club, he’ll have to deal with the harsh Minnesota winters again, something he hasn’t done in quite some time.
“I've only experienced the summers for the last seven years, so I have nothing bad to say about the state just yet,” he said. “Who knows what the season will bring, but I'm excited, I'm ready for the next challenge.”