Behind the Bench: The Defender of Arseneau’s House
Ask any Abbotsford Canuck’s fan who their favourite player is. Chances are, Vincent (Big Vinny) Arseneau will be one of the more popular answers.
Scanning the crowd, multiple fans can be spotted donning a #18 Arseneau jersey. According to the Arseneau faithful, the Abbotsford Centre is not the Abbotsford Centre; it’s Arseneau’s House.
The 6-foot-2, 220lb winger is hard to miss on the ice. Using his size and putting his body on the line, Arseneau has no problem dropping the gloves.
A young fan once shared with the crowd that Arseneau was his favourite because of his big hits and fighting skills.
When Arseneau is on the ice, fans know they’re in for an entertaining game.
After a decade in the game, Arseneau knows how to get the crowd’s attention.
“We give a good show, fans know we go all out, and I think that’s what they appreciate” said Arseneau.
While most fans would focus on the “power” of Arseneau’s growing power forward title, he knows his role is shifting.
A professional of 10 years, Vinny joined the Canucks organization halfway into his career. Arseneau noticed hockey was changing and knew he had to change with it. After taking the ice in Utica, his offensive game began to shift, and his numbers began to grow.
“You need to bring something else (to the game) other than just fighting. I always want to put some numbers on those lines.”
Arseneau says he embraces the changing hockey landscape, trying to bring whatever the team needs him to bring. He wants to be a reliable presence on the ice, even if it means fighting less.
“Maybe it’ll be a hit, a goal, or maybe just a blocked shot, or whatever the team needs to get going. If you’re only going to fight, you’re not going to survive in this league” he said.
The 30-year-old’s work on his offensive game is noticeable, having a career high in scoring during Abbotsford’s inaugural season last year. However, Arseneau still hasn’t lost sight of the player he is at his core.
“Players like me are getting rarer” he said of his enforcer style of play.
With almost 500 career penalty minutes and 65 fights recorded in his professional career (Hockey Fights), Arseneau isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.
And the fans in the building help.
“It’s amazing that fans are showing up night after night. They’re really loud, it gives energy to the players” said Arseneau.
Arseneau does not shy away from showing his appreciation for the fans in big ways.
When young cancer survivor Mitch Head spent a day with the team before Abbotsford’s Hockey Fights Cancer night in November, Arseneau gave Mitch his stick and promised he would score a goal for him. The next night, Arseneau netted his second of the season, dedicating the goal to Mitch and presenting him with the puck after the game.
He shows every fan that they’re valued and it’s clear to the crowd that Arseneau plays for Abbotsford.
“We’re really fortunate (for our fans) and we need to make sure we give them a good game every night.”
At the end of the night, no matter what he puts out on the ice, Abbotsford will always love Big Vinny.