Having circled the wagons in the American Hockey League, Trent Whitfield has been accustomed to the scenery that is All-Star weekend.
Now in his 15th professional season, Whitfield, who has four points in 17 games with the Baby B’s in 2012-13, is playing the role of mentoring some of the younger players in hopes of making it to the next step. But this time Whitfield, who has had several stints in the NHL – most recently playing one game with the Boston Bruins last season – provided a laid back mentality as captain of the Eastern Conference all-stars.
And who can blame him?
“It’s a tremendous honor to be named captain,” said the 35-year old veteran. “As an older guy, you kind of hang out with these young talented players and just have some fun with it.”
“In this atmosphere, there’s not too much that you need to do,” Whitfield added. “You just kind of go out there and have fun and show off your skills. This is a fun time of the year where you stay loose. We have 76 intense games each year. This is just the type of game to relax and skate, score some goals and have some fun. Hopefully we just relax and look out for each other a little bit.”
With potentially several future NHLers like Providence goalie (and Eastern conference starter) Niklas Svedberg, Bridgeport forward and former New York Islanders’ first round pick Nino Niedreiter, and Binghamton goalie Robin Lehner, Whitfield’s advice was to enjoy the moment.
“Take it all in and don’t take anything for granted,” Whitfield said. “Hopefully they are ready at all times and they can be ready for any opportunities that come their way, which are sometimes few and far between. But hopefully they are ready when their name gets called.”
For Whitfield, being an all-star captain might not be on top of his lists of personal accomplishments. Some of the achievements atop his list would include playing in the Calder Cup playoffs and a couple of appearances in the Stanley Cup playoffs with the Bruins (in 2009-10) and Capitals (2002-03).
But being named a captain in the host city is not a bad thing to add to his list of achievements.
“It makes it a little extra special to be a captain in front of your hometown crowd,” said Whitfield. “It’s an honor [being captain] no matter where and whenever it is. So hopefully we have fun out there and we can take it all in.”