Vines Big On Little Things

By Dave Werstine
Staff Writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
Copyright © 2003 Long Beach Press Telegram

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The casual hockey fan often overlooks the work that Ice Dogs defenseman Bryan Vines does because he is not flashy with the puck or among the scoring elite, or even a big hitter back on the blue line.

Instead, Vines makes a living doing all the little things that go unnoticed but that coaches love, like moving the puck up ice, winning one-on-one battles and being in proper coverage.

It’s a role he has relished regardless of the lack of recognition since he was a youth player back in Oakville, Ontario.

“The fans see all the goals and assists, but they don’t always see the little things, like the one-on- one battles, the blocked shots,î said the second-year pro out of the University of Denver. “I take pride in stopping someone from scoring. Guys playing in my role really get no credit, but you get used to it.î

The adulation from the crowd would be nice, but Vines feels he gets it from his teammates, who understand and can truly appreciate what he offers to the team.

“When it comes down to it, if your teammates respect the way you play and appreciate what you do, that’s all that matters,î said Vines.

Vines’ pro hockey career might be short, however, ending at the conclusion of this season if all works out.

A journalism/public relations major in college, Vines would like to stay in the sports industry, preferably in hockey.

“Hockey has been my whole life, it’s what I know,î he said. “If I am not going to play, I wanted to be involved (in hockey) in some capacity.î

Vines, 25, got his wish in early December, when he retired to take a position as a marketing coordinator with the Colorado Avalanche. But on his first day on the job, he was told there was a problem with his work visa.

“They said it was all taken care of (before I was hired),î said Vines ìBut as it turned out, it wasn’t all taken care of.î

That left him in limbo while the Avalanche, who have held the position for him, looked to get his paperwork squared away. So in the interim, he called Ice Dogs coach Kevin Kaminski to see if he could come back and play.

Vines was back in the Ice Dogs’ lineup the day after Christmas.

“If I wasn’t going to doing that (job), there is nothing better than playing hockey,î he said on the decision to come out of retirement.

The government could grant Vines a work visa for the job in Denver at any time, or it could deny it. If it goes through, he said he would finish the season first.

And if it doesn’t, then what? An extended playing career for guy who deserves more credit than he receives is a possibility.

“I could decide to come back,î he said. “I wouldn’t rule it out.î

Copyright © 2003 Long Beach Press Telegram