It’s just another game to Kyle Rhodes.
The former Guelph Storm defenceman, who played 171 games for the locals over three seasons, returns to the Sleeman Centre Sunday afternoon when his Sudbury Wolves visit.
No hard feelings. No ‘circled on the calendar.’ No revenge motive.
“It’s just part of the job,” Rhodes said of the trade that sent him to Sudbury.
As for being back in Guelph, he’s looking forward to it, but not in any special way.
“I’m going to try not to think about it any differently,” Rhodes said over the phone earlier this week from Sudbury.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing Guelph and being back in Guelph, but I’m going to think of it as a normal game. I’m not going to be too nervous or think too much about it. I’m just going to play my game.”
Old Home Week at the Sleeman Centre actually kicks off Friday night, with Luke Burghardt and Luke Moncada back in town with the North Bay Battalion.
For Rhodes, the move north has worked out just fine.
He has six goals and eight assists in the Wolves’ first 19 games, equalling his career-best in points in a season set last year in Guelph. He’s also seeing time on the power play, where he has four assists.
“It’s going really well,’ he said.
“The coaches here want me to play on both ends of the ice more. Still play my defensive game, but they also want me joining the rush more … I think there’s a little bit more freedom. Different style and different system.”
The transition has also been a smooth one off the ice, something Rhodes said was aided by the fact the trade came in the summer as opposed to during the season.
“I was shocked at first, but it gave me time to get back to my focus and say to myself ‘this could be a really good thing. Take it as a positive.’”
He’s billeting with the family whose son played with Rhodes’ younger brother Sam a couple of years ago with the Don Mills Flyers. The family, which hadn’t billeted a player before, knew Rhodes and his family and offered to billet him in Sudbury, which has worked out just fine.
“It’s a beautiful house and a great billet family, so that’s worked out really well,” he said. “They’ve just welcomed me into the family.”
The trading of Rhodes was perhaps the most curious moves the Storm made over the summer.
While never a dynamic player, Rhodes came into his own with the Storm late last season and was their most consistent player over the second half of the campaign.
“I think last year in Guelph I really started finding my game and getting more comfortable with playing the way that I play,” he said.
Rhodes did not ask for a trade. One has to assume that Storm general manager George Burnett was more familiar with the player he replaced Rhodes with, overager Mark Shoemaker, and/or that moving out some older players was part of changing the culture around the team.
Rhodes has his eyes on playing professionally after this season.
“That’s my plans, 100 per cent. I want to keep playing professionally and just keep going from there.”