OWEN SOUND, Ont. - Most hockey players eagerly await a chance to play their former team.
Owen Sound Attack centre Daniel Catenacci, however, is different.
Catenacci was traded to the defending Ontario Hockey League champions in late August by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, but the 18-year-old says it will be business as usual when he faces his former teammates on Saturday in Owen Sound.
"Honestly, I don't think about Sault Ste. Marie," said Catenacci, who the Greyhounds selected first overall in the OHL's selection draft in 2009. "I'm sure for some it adds excitement to it, but I haven't thought about playing against my old team.
"It makes no difference to me who we play. I just want to win."
When word got out last summer that Greyhounds general manager Kyle Dubas was open to offers for Catenacci's services, Attack general manager Dale DeGray decided to boldly toss Owen Sound's hat in the ring.
"Anytime you have an opportunity to get a player that is the calibre of a Daniel Catenacci you do everything in your power to get him," said DeGray.
The two teams eventually struck a deal, sending Catenacci to Owen Sound for right-winger Andrew Fritsch and a 2014 second-round draft pick
A Newmarket, Ont. native, Catenacci led the Greyhounds in assists (45) and points (71) last season ??? his second in the OHL. He also collected a team second-best 26 goals and 117 penalty minutes before being selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the third round of the NHL's amateur draft.
"Quite honestly I was surprised we were even in the running to get him," said DeGray. "Highly-skilled players like Catenacci don't become available very often, and when they do they usually end up in places like Kitchener or London or Windsor. But when I knew we were in the ballpark I did everything I could to make the deal happen."
A deal that, despite the Attack's somewhat sluggish 5-7-0 start to the season, has appeared to pay dividends for the defending OHL champions. The young man they call Cat has quickly become the face of the Attack and currently leads all Owen Sound players with eight goals and 18 points.
DeGray is not prepared to judge the deal in hindsight, but is pleased with Catenacci's performance so far.
"Everyone, from general managers to coaches to media and to fans, will have their own opinions on particular players whenever you make a trade," said DeGray. "It all depends how an individual perceives a player. Some might say we won the deal, while others might say Sault Ste. Marie won the deal. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we're thrilled with how Daniel has stepped in and played for us this season.
"And with the way (Andrew) Fritsch has been playing for them, they have to be feeling pretty darn good about the trade, too."
Fritsch, 18, who last spring played a part in ensuring Owen Sound hoisted its first-ever OHL title, has scored four goals and five assists in 10 games with the Greyhounds.
Head coach Greg Ireland thinks Catenacci had made an immediate impact with the Attack, playing between wingers Cameron Brace and Jarrod Maidens for most of the season.
"Daniel has stepped in nicely, not only on the ice but in the locker room as well," said Ireland. "He is a great kid who works extremely hard and a player who has been tenacious in both ends for us this season."
Though he has enjoyed a taste of success ??? capturing gold as a member of Canada's U-18 squad at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and a silver medal at the 2010 World U-17 Hockey Challenge ??? Catenacci wants nothing more than to help lead his new team to a successful season.
"I want to be a winner and I want to win with the Owen Sound Attack," said Catenacci, who this week received the club's Attacker of the Week honours after scoring three goals and an assist in back-to-back losses to the Kitchener Rangers. "I love everything about it here. Everybody has treated me great since I arrived. I couldn't be any happier with my coaches, my billets and my new teammates."