Arsene a man of the people in Hershey

by Julie Sensenderfer || AHL On The Beat Archive

Residents of Hershey, Pa., do not vote for a mayor of their town, but until a change in government format occurs sometime in the future, perhaps they should consider adopting current Hershey Bears defenseman Dean Arsene as an honorary member of their local governing body.

Arsene, currently the longest-tenured Bear, is entering his fourth season in Hershey and is signed through the 2007-08 season. Teammates past and present have dubbed him “The Mayor” for his longevity with the organization and for his contributions on and off the ice.

“It is really neat to be a part of this town and community,” says Arsene. “It’s a great hockey town and I’m glad to have the opportunity to be a part of it into next season.”

Arsene, an Abbotsford, B.C., native, spends much of his time away from the rink making contributions in his community. He regularly volunteers to visit children at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and is an active participant in elementary school reading programs.

Another program that Arsene is particularly proud of includes inviting children from Big Brothers/Big Sisters to attend a Bears game. The children, along with their Big Brother or Big Sister, receive tickets and a free hot dog and soda while in attendance. And in addition to getting a tour of the press area prior to the drop of the puck, they also get a tour of the dressing room from Arsene following the game. The children are able to gain a behind-the-scenes perspective as well as meet other members of the hockey club, an opportunity not ordinarily available to them.

Beginning his tenure with the Bears in the 2003-04 season, Arsene has amassed enough penalty minutes to rank 49th on the all-time penalty minutes list, a feat that ranks him among some of the most rugged players to ever wear a Hershey uniform. “It’s funny,” laughs Arsene. “I had no idea that I had moved that far up the list. I’m sure it’s not a record my coaches want me to go out and break any time soon.”

While in Hershey, Arsene has seen Hershey’s NHL affiliation change from the Colorado Avalanche to the flag of the Washington Capitals. The change from the Rocky Mountains to the hub of American politics has proved beneficial for "The Mayor," as he signed his first NHL contract with the Caps this past summer.

For Arsene, the move to return to Hershey was about opportunity, and a chance to play again for head coach Bruce Boudreau and assistant coach Bob Woods.

“Both Bruce and Woody were players. They know what we go through and they know what it takes to win. They each have won in the past. Bruce is in the AHL record books still to this day, and Woody was on Hershey’s Calder Cup team before (in 1997). They’ve won Calder Cups and [ECHL] Kelly Cups. They definitely know what it takes to win,” he emphasizes.

arsene2_200.jpgAfter missing the playoffs completely in Arsene’s first two seasons as a Bear, winning the Calder Cup was especially sweet. “It was a long haul, but we had a special group of guys who pulled it together to win,” he recalls. “We were able to make a great run and now have a season full of memories. To hoist that Cup over my head was an absolute thrill.”

Arsene says that Hershey’s run to glory this past spring was one he and his teammates will be able to savor this for a lifetime. “Winning the Cup and being champions is bigger than anything you can accomplish as an individual,” says Arsene. “Although individually you want to succeed, it is great to be able to do it with your teammates.”

So what does the future hold for “The Mayor” as he heads into his fourth term in Chocolatetown? Looking ahead, Arsene feels that the Bears have a pretty good squad to defend the Calder Cup title. He notes that with the addition of players such as Chad Wiseman, Timo Helbling, and Alexandre Giroux, along with talented rookies like Jamie Hunt and Jeff Schultz, the Bears are ready to reload and chase the dream again.

“We have a solid core of last year’s rookies that have matured and are playing very well,” said Arsene. “Joey Tenute has matured since last year and has already scored a couple of big goals for us. Stephen Werner is another. He’s come a long way from last year. Also, with Freddie Cassivi in net again, I am very excited for our chances this year.”

One thing is certain.  In a popular vote with Hershey fans, Dean Arsene wins in a landslide both on and off the ice.