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‘You can’t lose hope’: Perseverance pays off as Summerside’s Bennett MacArthur lands NHL contract


There was a time, Bennett MacArthur admits, when he thought a profession in hockey was not in his future — not less than not on the ice.

A chiropractor, perhaps, however not a participant.

He was 15, ready to be drafted into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the pure path many younger gamers from the Maritimes tackle their journey to the National Hockey League.

The name by no means got here.

From left, Noah Dobson, Zack MacEwen, Ross Johnston and Jordan Spence are all from P.E.I. and taking part in within the NHL. MacEwen and Johnston had been undrafted. (The Associated Press)

“That was a really tough day for me,” he recalled in a current interview with CBC.

But now, a distant reminiscence.

On March 1, the 21-year-old MacArthur signed a three-year contract with the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning price, in line with CapFriendly.com, $2.7 million.

“Everybody peaks at a different time,” he stated. “And the biggest thing is just you can’t lose hope and faith and just keep working on your game.”

That would not be the final time MacArthur was handed over. After lastly making it to the QMJHL in 2020 with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, he once more waited for a name that by no means got here — this time on the NHL draft final summer season.

It was solely after he improved his skating and put up head-turning scoring statistics — 32 objectives in 36 video games thus far this yr — that he might now not be ignored.

It’s a lesson in perseverance Prince Edward Islanders have seen earlier than. Of the 4 gamers from P.E.I. presently within the NHL, two — Zack MacEwen of Stratford and Ross Johnston of Suffolk — weren’t chosen within the NHL draft and, like MacArthur, had been thought-about “late bloomers.” (The different two, Noah Dobson of Summerside and Jordan Spence of Cornwall, had been chosen within the first and fourth rounds of their respective draft years.)

Great to see the group of P.E.I. youngsters which might be in professional hockey proper now — makes me glad and proud.— New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant

“They’re great guys to look up to,” MacArthur stated. “Ross actually reached out to me after I signed the contract so that was really nice as well. So yeah, great role models to me.”

Gerard Gallant of Summerside, head coach of the NHL’s New York Rangers, will not be shocked MacArthur landed an NHL contract. He stated robust work ethic and “great character” get observed on the high ranges.

“It’s always disappointing when you don’t get drafted, but Bennett and the other guys never gave up, they worked hard in the offseason and made themselves better players,” he stated in a textual content message to CBC.

“There’s lots of great players that were never drafted. Great to see the group of P.E.I. kids that are in pro hockey right now — makes me happy and proud.”

‘They’ve given me each alternative, taken me to numerous locations, signed me up for camps once I was youthful and the whole lot like that,’ MacArthur says of his mother and father. (Zoom)

For now, MacArthur is focusing his efforts on main the Titan — rivals of the Charlottetown Islanders — to the QMJHL championship and past. 

In the autumn, he’ll head to Tampa for coaching camp. And as soon as once more, he’ll need to win over any doubters.

“I’ve kind of dealt with that my whole life I guess,” he stated. “I was always the undrafted guy coming in trying to prove myself but I think now that I’m signed I have just as much chance as anyone else, so that’s the main thing, that’s my mindset, I’m trying to steal somebody’s job now.”

‘An actual competitor’

The Lightning like what they’ve seen thus far.

“He’s a 200-foot player. He’s offensive minded. He can really shoot it. Good skater, has above average skill and he’s a real competitor,” stated Stacy Roest, Tampa’s assistant GM and director of participant improvement, in an e mail to CBC.

“He fits a lot of what we were looking for as a Bolt, and we’re really excited to start working with him.”

If he makes the staff, his NHL contract will kick in. If he does not, he’ll play for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch at a wage below $100,000.

Treating mother and father to supper

Either manner, he stated he is grateful for the many individuals who by no means stopped believing in him, particularly his mother and father, Adam and Lindsay MacArthur.

“They’ve been unbelievable. They’ve given me every opportunity, taken me to countless places, signed me up for camps when I was younger and everything like that,” he stated.

“I’ll have to treat them to a nice supper or something.”

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