By Ed Reed
ESTERO, Fla. – Simon Tremblay took a step back from his pro hockey career to make sure he’d have a career when he hung up his skates.
Tremblay took the past year-and-a-half off from the pro hockey circuit to complete his mechanical engineering degree at Universite Laval in Quebec.
With that accomplished, the 26-year-old defenseman has resumed his full-time hockey career with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades, signing Jan. 3 and playing all four games during their recent road trip. He picked up two assists and six penalty minutes in those games.
Tremblay practiced on his new home rink for the first time Tuesday, but it was not his first time in Germain Arena. He started his pro career playing two seasons for the now-defunct Tallahassee Tiger Sharks of the ECHL. His second season was 2000-01, under rookie coach Gerry Fleming.
The two have stayed in touch and talked this summer about Tremblay joining the Blades.
“I called him, we talked this summer and I told him I’d be ready after Christmas,” said Tremblay, who played three seasons of college hockey at Vermont before leaving. “I called him a month before Christmas and told him I wanted to play in the (ECHL), and we talked for a bit and then I’m here.”
Fleming said, “That was something we had planned on for a while. We’re happy to have him and he’s a welcomed addition to our blue line. … He’s versatile, resilient and he’s a good player to have on our team.”
Tremblay had played 250 pro games before this season, including for five ECHL teams over four years. He played in the 2003 ECHL All-Star Game held in Estero as a member of the Reading Royals.
Tremblay actually arrived in Southwest Florida on New Year’s Day and left that night with the Blades on their road trip.
“It was good to get on the road to get to know the guys,” he said. “It was nice for that.”
Although not playing full-time while finishing his degree, Tremblay had been playing semi-pro for the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey to try to keep in playing shape. He appeared in 82 games for RadioX over the past season and a half, scoring 17 goals and 64 points.