Just ask Ben Guite.
Guite has been scouring practice rinks in the AHL to the ECHL for the last two weeks looking for a job, trying to convince anyone who will listen to take a chance on a 34-year-old forward.
“You just have to stay ready,” said Guite. “It’s one of those things where you try to sniff out an opportunity. There‘s a lot guys out there in the same position. The only thing I can do is stay in the fold and be ready when the time comes.”
Guite spent four years with the University of Maine Black Bears where he played a vital role in the school’s 1999 National Championship and was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens.
The Montreal, QC native spent the majority of his 11-year career toiling around the minors, accumulating nearly 600 career games, posting 278 points (103g, 176a) in the American Hockey League.
It’s been a nice career, but little of that matters in “this-what-have-you-done-for-lately” league.
“It’s frustrating because you give so much to the game,” said Guite.
“First of all I’m a veteran and there aren’t that many spots available and this league is getting younger,” he added. “Teams in the NHL know they need their young players to produce just from a salary cap point of view. They want their young guys playing a professional schedule as soon as possible.”
Teams in the AHL are getting younger-and-younger with each passing season. The Phoenix Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, is the perfect example, a team with 12 first-year contracts and only three veterans.
Brad Treliving, Coyotes Asst. General Manager, believes this year it’s more cyclical for the organization rather than making a conscious decision to sign veterans, but he points that pool of players to choose from is getting bigger.
“Every year we have several players turning pro, but the number of players in the AHL isn’t dropping by that amount,” said Treliving. “In our case, we knew this was going to happen. It’s not something that caught us off guard.”
That provides little solace to Guite, who still has to provide for his family.
“You hope somebody is looking for that veteran presence,” said Guite. Everything is at a standstill in the AHL right now due to the lockout. Hopefully next week, some of the teams will look at what they have, what they need and once the influx of players going to Europe settle’s down, maybe it will trickle down to a guy like me,. I’m looking for a job, something that pays the bills.”
Guite spent last season with the Worcester Sharks, however, he missed a large portion of that season due to a concussion and a broken foot. He returned for the final 16 games of the regular season, recording nine points.
He said that this was a good off-season for him. He was staying shape, working out with NHL’ers Steven Reinprecht and former Pirate Colin Stuart, and more recently with his alum at Maine in order to keep in shape. He and his agent were making phone calls, but no one was answering except for the “we’ll be in touch”, but never a response. He’s not oppose to taking a job in Europe or in the ECHL or CHL at this point, although he believes he can still in the AHL and even the NHL.
“You sort of have to be a door-to-door salesman, but at this point in my career I don’t mind picking up the phone and talking to the assistant GM’s that deal with the AHL teams or keep in contact with a former coach because you never know. It just might that lucky break you’re looking for.”