Jean-Philippe Cote has changed in many ways since his brief stint in the National Hockey League seven years ago.
The defenseman's experience since has helped show him how to do his job better, and he might be even a little faster. But he knows his chances of a call-up have likely passed.
"Obviously, there's that dream still, but I do know my role," Cote said. "I know, compared to maybe five years ago, I'm not the next guy on the list (of guys being called-up)."
Instead, the 30-year-old has embraced his new purpose – being a leader and mentor on and off the ice for some of the Tampa Bay Lightning's top prospects with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.
Danick Gauthier started the season as the odd man out.
With the Syracuse Crunch already loaded with talented forwards and further enhanced with players being sent down from Tampa Bay as a result of the NHL lockout, the rookie had trouble cracking the lineup.
Crunch coach Jon Cooper told Gauthier to expect to be sit out most nights, and the 21-year-old suited up for just 10 games in the first three months of the season.
"It was hard to be scratched almost every game, but I just kept working in practices, and I got a couple chances," Gauthier said.
"Every chance I got on the ice, I needed to make a good impression for the coaches," the Quebec-native added.
From The Windsor Star
Defenceman Slater Koekkoek wasn't about to miss a chance to make an early debut with the Windsor Spitfires.
Just hours after being dealt by the Peterborough Petes to the Spitfires Thursday for Michael Clarke and second-round picks in 2014 and 2015, the former Peterborough captain was on the ice for Windsor's 3-0 win over the Brampton Battalion at the WFCU Centre.
"I had no idea I was going to be a Spitfire, but I'm pretty thrilled," said the 18-year-old Koekkoek, who was a 10th pick overall in the first round of last year's NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It was Windsor's last deal before Thursday's Ontario Hockey League trade deadline, but one that brought the club a cornerstone defenseman.
From FoxSports North
Adam Wilcox came to the University of Minnesota campus this fall for a job interview of sorts.
The freshman from South St. Paul was in a competition with junior Mike Shibrowski to become Golden Gophers' starting goaltender. For the first few weeks of the college hockey season, Minnesota coach Don Lucia played each goalie for one game a weekend to see how they handled certain situations.
But there was one game — and perhaps even one play — in October when Wilcox seized the starting job and made it his own.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie estimates his first National Hockey League assist came about 200 feet from the Phoenix Coyotes net.
The Syracuse Crunch forward, up for more than a dozen games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, had chipped the puck past defenseman Rostislav Klesla, and his linemates, Trevor Smith and Martin St. Louis, were off to the races.
It wasn't the prettiest play, but it got the job done.
"Just a simple play," Labrie said. "Keep it simple. That's my type of game."
In his sixth professional season, Labrie has had to grind out a career by doing a little bit of everything on the ice.