Arsene happy to be back in B.C.

by Jonelle Mace || AHL On The Beat Archive

The Abbotsford Heat’s Dean Arsene is living the dream.

Born and raised in Murrayville, B.C., less than 30 minutes from Abbotsford, the newly appointed Heat captain is thrilled to be back home, playing in front of family and friends and sleeping in his own bed at night.

"It’s really exciting for me," Arsene said. "Since the team moved here I’ve wanted the opportunity to play here. To get the chance this year to come and join the squad has been pretty great. It’s been a dream come true. To be able to go home to my wife… you couldn’t beat it."

A product of the Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association, Arsene’s road home has been long and winding. He has played home games in 13 different cities in his hockey career, including time in the Western Hockey Legaue, ECHL, American Hockey League and National Hockey League.

After five junior seasons across western Canada with Regina, Edmonton and Kootenay, Arsene turned pro in 2001 and spent his rookie season in Charlotte with the Checkers, then of the ECHL.

Since then, Arsene’s 12 seasons in the AHL have been split between Hartford, Hershey, Springfield, Peoria, Portland, St. John’s and now Abbotsford. He has played nearly 600 regular-season games, and won two Calder Cups with the Hershey Bears in 2006 and 2009.

Arsene married his wife, Alex, in 2010, and they’re expecting their first child in May. The thrill of being in his hometown extends from playing in front of his family and friends to actually spending time with them off the ice.

"We’re really excited," he said. "My mom and dad and mother- and father-in-law and most of my close family is from the area. It’s great to spend time with them."

The recently named captain is an AHL veteran and a natural team leader, having previously worn the "C" with four other franchises (Hershey, Springfield, Peoria and Portland). Arsene recognizes that the Heat are a pretty young group of guys, and he’s okay with being the elder statesman in the dressing room.

"There’s a lot of energy in the dressing room; there’s not a bad guy in the group," Arsene said. "I get called ‘old man’ on a daily basis. Some of these guys were in first and second grade when I started playing professional hockey. The group is very youthful and enthusiastic, and it keeps me young."

Arsene’s other dream came true when he played 13 NHL games for the Edmonton Oilers in 2009-10.

"It’s been my dream to play hockey ever since I first put on my skates. Every kid dreams of playing in the NHL. I was able to fulfill that dream a few years ago. I don’t think you can find a better job than playing the game that you love for a living."

Arsene is part of the first-place Heat, a team that has gotten off to a fast start this season thanks to a franchise-record winning streak (nine games through Friday’s action). All in all, Arsene is happy to be playing at home and appreciates what he’s a part of in Abbotsford.

"It makes for a lot of fun coming to the rink when you’re winning. I get to play in my hometown. We have a coaching staff that is very patient with us, and wants us to grow as individuals and as players. Anytime you can combine that coaching staff that really cares with a bunch of guys you want to go to war with, it make for a good time."