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Antoine Vermette’s arrival in Anaheim instantly made him the second-oldest player on the roster and the gray beard of the Ducks’ forward group. But at 34, he’s not quite feeling close to being done with hockey.
“I take a lot of pride about my preparation in the summer and how I carry myself throughout the year,” Vermette told reporters on Monday after signing a two-year deal, $3.5 million deal with the Ducks. “I work hard, stay in shape, I don’t know. It’s a strange thing for me at my age I don’t feel that age. I’m 34, but I don’t feel that old. I know it’s not old but in the game itself you see so many young guys. I feel really good, had a great summer again. I’ll just keep pushing hard and hopefully can play for a long time still.”
Vermette was on the market after a surprise buyout by the Arizona Coyotes earlier this month. After a 17-goal, 38-point season, the veteran forward said he was caught off guard by the move, which GM John Chayka made in order to open up roster space for some of the team’s up-and-coming prospects.
Going from a situation where his role was likely going to be reduced for the coming season to one where his services will be needed, especially down the middle with Nate Thompson out until later in the season, Vermette sees big things ahead for the Ducks.
“You play the Ducks you know you’re in for a big game. They’re skilled and big and they use those assets real well. It’s always a threat when you’re facing the Ducks. I’m glad to be on their side,” he said. “I’m very excited to jump on board and hopefully get the right chemistry and right formula to give us another championship.”
Ducks fans were cursing Vermette’s name not too long ago after his Game 4 double overtime winner during the 2015 Western Conference Final.
Those feelings have likely subsided in a 15 month’s time and Vermette will provide some versatility to Randy Carlyle’s lineup.
“I’m not that locked on playing center or wing,” Vermette said. “That’s something I can do either or.”
A Stanley Cup champion in 2015 with the Chicago Blackhawks, Vermette is hoping his decision to go to Anaheim pays off in similar fashion.
“I always portray them as Cup contenders, and for me it was a big thing, having the chance to win it not too long ago,” he said. “At this stage in my career I believe in this team and the organization that really gives me a chance to reproduce that and that means a lot for me.”
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