Defenceman Dean Arsene was voted captain of the Abbotsford Heat by his teammates last week.

Defenceman Dean Arsene was voted captain of the Abbotsford Heat by his teammates last week.

Heat captaincy is ‘cherry on top’ for Abbotsford product Arsene

It's one of the highest accolades in all of team sports – being voted captain by your teammates. Dean Arsene tasted that honour last week.

It’s one of the highest accolades in all of team sports – being voted captain by your teammates.

Dean Arsene tasted that honour last week, as his mates on the Abbotsford Heat elected him captain.

Remarkably, it’s the fifth time in Arsene’s 12-year AHL career that he’s worn the captain’s C. He also served in the top player leadership role with the Hershey Bears (2006-08), Springfield Falcons (2009-10), Peoria Rivermen (2010-11) and Portland Pirates (2011-12).

There’s been some buzz that five captaincies might be an AHL record, but the league doesn’t track that stat per se, so it’s difficult to officially confirm.

Regardless, it says a lot about the level of respect that Arsene has garnered in previous stops.

“It means a lot – to have the team vote on it, I really appreciate it from the guys,” Arsene said. “It shows that what I’ve been doing, trying to help everybody out, kind of paid off.

“But it’s not one guy steering the ship. There’s 20 guys in the dressing room. We’ve got a great support staff with (Carter) Bancks and (Paul) Byron wearing the A’s and so many other guys, (Ben) Street, (Greg) Nemisz, (Blair) Jones, so many older guys that help out and it’s leadership by committee.”

It’s all the more special for Arsene to wear the C in Abbotsford, his hometown. As a free agent this past summer, coming off a season with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, he decided he wanted to focus on joining the Heat, and landed a 25-game professional tryout contract just before training camp.

“It’s a dream come true just playing here in Abbotsford, having my family and my friends and being able to not be away from my wife and dog,” he said with a grin. “It’s nice to be at home and be surrounded by people I usually don’t spend a lot of time with during hockey season. To have the C, it’s just the cherry on top.”

Heat head coach Troy Ward suggested that having a local player serve as captain is great for the community.

“He’s been a leader on most every team he’s been around,” Ward marveled. “He’s a leader on the ice, he’s a leader off the ice. I think he’s a leader during moments of truth, when life isn’t always so easy. I think he has a good feel for the temperature of his teammates.

“He’s at a point in his career where he doesn’t have to do a lot of work on himself to get himself ready (to play). He’s really able to feel the temperature of a room and get a sense of how everybody’s doing.”