After signing a two-year contract extension worth $1.8 million on Wednesday, he tweeted the following message:
As has been noted by those before him, deciding to sign with the organization often goes beyond the rink. That’s why, instead of using the pronoun “I,” Dwyer opted for the first-person plural “we.”
“When it comes down to it, you want to play in a spot, but at the same time, your family has to be happy and comfortable where they’re at,” he said. “It’s an area [my wife and kids] love and enjoy, and it weighed heavily on our decision.”
Just over a year ago, Dwyer, 29, signed a two-year contract with the Canes. He was coming off his first full season at the NHL level, in which he set career highs in games played (80), goals (8), assists (10) and points (18). He averaged 12:34 of ice time per game, establishing himself as a strong defensive forward with a healthy dose of speed.
He built on that framework in the 2011-12 season, skating in 73 games and recording 12 points (5g, 7a). His average ice time jumped to 15:22 per game, as he was regularly slotted on the third-line wing alongside shutdown center Brandon Sutter.
Even in Sutter’s absence, Dwyer doesn’t see his role any differently heading into the 2012-13 campaign.
“[Be a] sound defensive hockey player, whether it’s third line or fourth line,” he said, describing his role on the team. “Be a sound penalty killer, and help give the Eric Staals, the Jordan Staals and the guys like that rests on the PK so when it is five-on-five or a power play, they have the energy and don’t have to kill penalties. And when it’s my turn to go out there, just try and create some energy.”
That style of play earned him a roster spot on Team USA in the 2012 IIHF World Championship, the Spokane, WA, native’s first foray into international play. In eight tournament games, Dwyer recorded a goal and two assists, his play earning the praise of Canes head coach and Team Canada assistant coach Kirk Muller in late June.
Dwyer’s lone tournament goal was scored against Cam Ward, a wraparound that snuck past the Canes’ netminder.
“I saw him right after the game. He came up to me, we were staying at the same hotel and we laughed and giggled about it,” Dwyer said. “To get it against Canada is one thing, and to get it against Ward is another thing.”
Playing on an international-size rink gave Dwyer, who measures in at 5’11”, 175 pounds, the ability to use his speed to his advantage and cultivate his puck-handling.
“It gives you a little bit more time,” he said of the bigger rink. “It does let you handle the puck more and get more comfortable with the puck. A little guy like me with speed, it opens it up for us. It’s fun and you develop parts of the game that you don’t quite get over here.”
Dwyer is opposite Ward again this week, as the two are among the group of around 15 players who have been working out at Raleigh Center Ice. For them, it’s business as usual, at least until they’re told otherwise. Signing a deal that keeps Dwyer and his family in the Triangle through the 2014-15 season gives them a bit of a cushion in case of a work stoppage.
“We wanted to come back and get something done to have some security and stability,” he said.
Still, security is something Dwyer knows he can’t take for granted.
“You sign a contract like that and there’s a sense of making it,” he said. “But every year, there are young guys coming up and players developing, pushing for spots. There’s that feeling in your stomach that someone is looking right over your shoulder. You have to push yourself, come in ready to play every year and prove yourself.”