Aaron Lewadniuk endured the typical share of rookie highs and lows. Offensively, he provided as many highlights as anyone over the course of the season. Defensively, he wasn’t quite as consistent.
Aside from the occasional rookie mistake, Lewadniuk was always one of the more interesting players to watch – capable of scoring a goal, setting up someone else, or getting into a fight. He represented the team at the All-Star Game in January and finished with 17 goals (tied for third on the team) and 31 points in 69 games.
Here’s what he had to say on his final day at the rink:
How do you feel the season went for you?
I had a really good time, having a great group of guys, having a chance to be in the All-Star Game was cool. It was a real honor. Just the core group of guys we had all season was great. Unfortunately we didn’t make the playoffs or do as well as we wanted to do. At the end of the season you saw us turn it on. I just wish we did it at the start.
Can you see yourself coming back?
Yeah, absolutely. I have no reasons why I wouldn’t want to come back. We have a great team, great guys, great staff. I can’t complain about anything, especially my individual play, my stats and just the leadership in my first year pro, I couldn’t ask for much more.
For argument’s sake, this team didn’t make the playoffs for the second straight season. There’s one reason not to come back.
Just look at how we finished. If we get a lot of the guys back we could have a real good start. Our core this year was just unbelievable. Next year if we get most of the guys back, even just some, we could make a real great push at the start, and just keep that momentum throughout the year. … At the start of the year we had some real young guys, me included. It was kind of an eye-opener, living in California and playing hockey. In the end, you saw everyone getting a little bit more comfortable, and just you’re near the end of it you’re a vet and you start playing like one. You’re a little bit more confident. At the end of the year I think a lot of the guys ended up playing with confidence. … If I could, I would play with every single one of these guys next year. If this was the exact same crew at the start of the year, we’d have a real good situation.
What specifically was eye-opening to you?
I just think you’re playing near Christmas and there’s no snow on the ground. Going to the rink in shorts, it’s a little bit different. At the start of the year, when the season gets going, it didn’t feel like hockey season. I think that was pretty cool. It was real neat. Just for your mindset, going to a game walking when it’s — your sweating in your suit walking to the rink. That took a little bit of getting used to.