It's been a little over a month since Antoine Vermette and his family settled into their Newport Coast residence, and, already, they're in love. The ocean breeze and laid back lifestyle providing the perfect environment for Vermette, his wife Karen, and two children Leonna and Emilia.
"Living here is absolutely phenomenal," the veteran center said recently after practice. "It's very nice around here, and very good to us. It's been great."
He's the kind of guy who you'd want to share a beverage with, or invite to sushi - one of his favorite foods. They don't come much humbler than Vermette, who embarks on his first season with the Ducks after signing a two-year contract with the club on August 15. Vermette became a free agent after the Arizona Coyotes bought out the final year of his contract on August 1.
Lest we forget, Vermette ripped the hearts out of Ducks fans in Game 4 of the 2015 Western Conference Final when his goal in double overtime tied the series, 2-2, in a classic battle the Blackhawks ultimately took in a do-or-die Game 7. But it's a new year, and the former foe and longtime divisional adversary is about to embark on a new chapter in his decorated career.
Recently Vermette took time to answer some personal questions, a few of which submitted by fans on Twitter.
You've been here for a little while now. Did you enlist the help of any of your teammates when looking for a place to live?
A few guys reached out when I signed here. I kind of asked around, too. I had an idea of where the guys were living, and where we should go. We found a place in Newport Coast. We're still getting to know our environment, but we like it a lot. It's been great. It's nice to know the guys. We've got a great group here.
Are there any major differences living here than in Arizona?
The obvious one would be the beach. It's surreal. This is amazing. It's not as hot in the summer, and the winters here and in Arizona are nice. Having the beach is really special, though.
What do you hope to bring to this team aside from on-ice production?
I've been in the league for quite a while. We all know how hard it is to win in this league. The smallest details can make the biggest difference. Hopefully, I can bring a positive vibe around here and be a presence on and off the ice.
Are you a vocal guy in the room?
I'm not overly loud, but I'm not going to hide away from saying something if I think it's valuable to the group. It's something I've done throughout my career. Guys here already have great leadership, so I'm going to come in and support that.
Do you have a nickname yet?
So far, I'm hearing "Verm" or "Vermy." That's usually the case wherever I go.
Why do you wear No. 50?
My number in juniors was 20, and when I started in the league it was 20, too. But when I got traded to Columbus, 20 was taken so I had to make a decision quickly on what number to take. I played with 50 back in the day when I was a kid. I've always liked the number 20, but for some reason that year, with the age group, we didn't have those numbers. We only had the higher numbers. That year, I thought 50 kinda looked like 20, and it was in the range of numbers we were able to choose from. I took 50 back then and decided to use it again in Columbus. It's stayed pretty much the same since then.
And as veteran and Stanley Cup champion, was it hard to accept the fact that you were bought out by the Coyotes?
It was a big shock, I'm not going to lie. It came as a surprise, no doubt. Right away, you think about your family and having to relocate. We liked it there, but it's part of the game and part of the job. It's no big deal. There are worse things in the world, that's for sure. I was very grateful for the interest that came right away because I know it's a very competitive league. You look around the league, and it's a tough league to stay in. Some guys don't get that interest, so I was very fortunate.
I saw the positive side of it, too, like getting the chance to choose where you want to play. When Anaheim approached me, I thought it was a great fit and opportunity for me and my family. It was a good decision for us.
It came as a surprise for a lot of people, which was a nice thing. My agent got a lot of calls from around the league, and I think it caught a lot of people off guard. I took it as a compliment. With that being said, I kinda saw the transition over there with a new GM and a new philosophy. They were big on youth. All in all, to be able to choose where you want to go, it's been a positive thing for me.
Over the years, have you had to change your game at all depending on the team you played for?
You always try to get better. It sounds like a cliché, but that's reality. As you grow up, you realize the details of the game make a big difference. It's such a competitive league and every aspect of the game now is dissected. Every team is trying to get the edge whenever they can find it. You have to follow suit. I've always taken a lot of pride in trying to bring every dimension into my game to help the team. Sometimes it might translate with goals - and it's fun to get the accolades - but there's so much more to the game. As I've gotten more mature, I've tried to compliment my games in different areas where I thought it was beneficial for myself and my team.
Any favorite restaurants in the cities you've previously played in?
Chicago is another city with plenty of places to choose from. They had a couple of really good sushi restaurants and they had a great Chinese restaurant. What was the name? [Sigh]. I have look it up again. I can't remember the name. I should've come prepared.
In Arizona, Roka Akor (Japanese restaurant) was probably my favorite one. It's a great Asian restaurant. There's a trend here, huh?
Do you have any favorite restaurants in Orange County yet?
There are so many great ones. But when I came here on the road, I was talking with some friends who used to play here. They really liked the San Shi Go sushi restaurant in Newport Beach. I knew that one right off the start. I love sushi. There are plenty more I have to test out before I have my final say.