Antoine Vermette doesn’t take offence when the Ottawa Senators ask him to use his talents for more than just scoring goals.
Much as he’d like the opportunity to fill the net with greater frequency, the 25-year-old native of St-Agapit, Que., says he’s comfortable doing whatever it takes to contribute to the Senators’ overall success.
“When you look at how the team is (set up), you have success a certain way and you definitely want to fit into a successful group,” Vermette said when asked about his role. “But on the other (side), you always want to improve yourself and have more responsibility.
“All the guys here have been that way to get here. You push yourself to the limit to get the best out of (yourself). It’s great. We have a good team here and we’re having great success.”
Perhaps Vermette’s biggest contribution in that area has been on specialty teams — specifically, on the penalty kill, where he and Chris Kelly form one of the National Hockey League’s most effective duos. But Vermette says it goes far beyond their play.
“It’s a team thing as well,” he said. “A lot of it is trusting each other. (Kelly) is a smart player and he knows where to go on the ice. We read each other pretty good. But you can’t put aside the fact we have two other guys on the ice with us most of the time. Chris Phillips
and (Anton) Volchenkov, they’re doing a good job as well. And we have good goaltenders behind us.
“I think it’s a mix… we’re doing a good job as team, including the coaches. It’s a group success.”
That being said, Vermette surely wouldn’t mind if he were asked to turn his attention more toward the other end of the ice.
“Absolutely. I never hide it,” Vermette said about the opportunity to score more goals. “You always want to maximize your potential or your capacity and you want to do the best that you can. I used to have more of an offensive role when I was younger. I didn’t hide it. I liked it. But you want to fit into the right place and be (part of) a successful group.”
For Vermette, that means constant work at bettering his game.
“I always want to improve myself in every single part of the game,” he said. “I know that’s a very general answer but that’s what I’m looking at. Growing up, one of my assets was my speed and even now, I try to get stronger legs. In the summer time, I work really hard on that. So even though I’m good at this, I want to emphasize it (even more) and get better at it.”