Wishart played five games for the Lightning during the 2008-09 season and skated in 61 games with Norfolk in 2009-10
Even after just celebrating his 22nd birthday in May, defenseman Ty Wishart was still viewed as the old guy in the Lightning locker room among prospects attending the team’s 2010 Development Camp.
It is a role that Wishart relishes, but despite serving as a role model to some of the younger players and being looked at as wise beyond his years, the Comox, British Columbia native can’t help but to partially agree with some of his teammates’ assertions, as long as they don’t go too far in crossing the threshold of gray hairs and limited mobility.
“This is my fifth camp overall, and my third with the Lightning, so yeah, I’m one of the more experienced guys here,” Wishart said. “But I’m actually pretty safe because we’ve got Scott Jackson and Tim Marks in here, so I’m not too too old.”
Perhaps “experienced,” as Wishart put it, is more appropriate considering his role at camp which is far different this year than in seasons past. Wishart’s long tenure affords him the opportunity to lead in the locker room, as well as to mentor some of his younger teammates as they attempt to follow the path of their predecessor through the ranks of juniors and up to the professional level of the American Hockey League before graduating up on the NHL stage.
“It’s a little different,” Wishart said of the role. “It’s been a lot of fun so far. I get out on the ice and try to help them as much as I can, but more so away from the rink. I’m making an effort to get to know the guys and to make them feel a little more comfortable since a lot of them are here for the first time. I’m pretty sure me and Grandpa Jacks [Scott Jackson] could run one of these camps by now.”
Wishart serves as a good candidate to assume the leadership role, bringing with him a variety of experiences that include four seasons in juniors, three stints in the AHL with two teams and five games at the NHL level. He has also been the subject of two trades in his hockey career, thus expanding his repertoire with which he counsels young prospects in a sport that is anything but predictable.
Not only does his previous hockey experience bring a lot to the table for younger prospects, but also the success he has found along the way. During the 2007-08 season with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, a team also comprising fellow Bolts prospects Dana Tyrell and Brett Connolly, Wishart registered a record year, totaling a career-best 67 points in 72 games in spite of being traded to Moose Jaw at the season’s half-way point before making his professional debut with Worchester of the AHL. The following year, Wishart was traded to Tampa Bay and appeared in 61 games with the Norfolk Admirals, progressing each season with his most successful campaign coming last year when he tallied 32 points.
“In Norfolk my confidence really wasn’t there my first year, but going into last season I had a year under my belt already so I felt a little more confident and I think it showed in my numbers,” Wishart said. “I became more assertive with my game and started taking shots that I might not have necessarily taken the year before. Those are some of the differences you see in yourself year in and year out and I think that’s what the development camp is all about. Every year you arrive at camp you pick up new skills and try to build upon them in the years after.”
Judging by statistics and his sense of maturity both on and off the ice, it is apparent that Wishart’s game has made big strides in improvement since joining the Lightning organization in July 2008. The clamor stemming from his own personal success, however, is not so much self-contained as it is widespread throughout the locker room, as Wishart also bears a certain degree of credibility when prospects come to him with questions about their own game.
“He helped me a lot when I was younger,” Tyrell said, referring to his Prince George days when the pair skated together on the power play and penalty kill units. “I’ve learned a lot from him and he’s one of the older guys so I think it comes naturally to him to step up and lead those of us who are younger.”