Former NHL’er settles in behind the bench

He has plenty of NHL experience but when it comes to coaching the game he played for a living, Trent Hunter is a rookie.

The Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs are the benefactors of Hunter’s years playing against the best players and he said the coaching staff, led by Doug Quinn have made the transition much easier than he expected.

“It was a little bit of a feeling out process, just kind of figuring out what to expect but it’s been great,” said Hunter who was drafted 150th overall in 1998 by Anaheim. “Getting out on the ice with the young kids, it’s been a lot of fun.”

Hunter said the current coaching staff has done great things with the program and he couldn’t find a better bunch to learn the coaching ropes from, but he does bring plenty to the party to teach these young players.

“I kind of prided myself through my career as being a thinker on the ice and figuring out things as I went. I was never the fastest guy,” he said. “You know, some little tricks along the wall. They’re just little things that helped me out through my career.”

Chiefs forward Ross Heidt said he appreciates all the information he can get from a player like Hunter when it comes to fore checking and burying pucks when you get the chance.

“He’s been around the game so you respect him, you give him the respect he deserves. You know he’s already been there.”

For the current roster of players Hunter is a great example of what hard work on and off the ice can produce having graduated from the Red Deer Minor Hockey system, playing with the Midget AAA’s under Brian Sutter.

“He really helped me make the jump to the next level and that’s what we’re trying to here is get these kids to the next level,” said Hunter.

Heidt added, “He’s a golden example of a guy who’s come up through this exact organization and made it to the NHL so for us it’s motivation.”

Apart from sharing his technical knowledge about the game Hunter said he’s yet to entertain the troops with any war stories from his battles in the NHL.

“Well I might have a few stories for the kids that will make them laugh,” he said. “I’m sure the coaches have heard more stories than the kids but you want to share as much as you can, anything that will help them out.”

Heidt added it would be great to hear from Hunter any stories he might have about his playing days but he would have one question in particular he’d want answered before the season is done.

“My main question would be who is the best player he played against and why that player was so hard to play against?”

As he gets his coaching legs under him Hunter said he’s more focused on this team’s immediate future when asked if a head coaching spot in the minor system at another age level might be on his radar.

“Well that might be a little far down the line right now. I’ve got a couple of young kids myself so I really enjoy watching them right now,” he said. “This is a great starting point for me and it’s just kind of letting me figure out if this is something I want to do. Time will tell but for now we’ll just take it one year at a time.”

sports@reddeerexpress.com

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