Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stockton Thunder News / New Role Suits O'Dette Well

04/27/2010 10:30 AM

By Lindsay Kramer - NHL.com Correspondent

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Matt O'Dette needed more suits, and better ones at that.

The off-ice wardrobe he had while playing defense for the Stockton Thunder was OK, but he admits he had to step up his sartorial game when he was named a full-time assistant with the team.

"I had to pump up the wardrobe being behind the bench," O'Dette said. "I had some, but some of the suits weren't very nice. That's been taken care of."

With that detail out of the way, there's no reason to believe O'Dette won't wear his new job well.

O'Dette, 34, officially was named an assistant to Matt Thomas before the National Conference semifinals against Bakersfield, but that was a formality. O'Dette was a player-assistant for the Thunder this season, and when he was left off the playoff roster, his new role with the team became obvious.

O'Dette played 13 seasons of professional hockey with the ECHL's Thunder, Fresno Falcons and Roanoke Express, and the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs, Quebec Citadelles and Saint John Flames. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound defenseman suited up in 662 career games as a professional, totaling 116 points (38-78) and 1,587 penalty minutes.

"I knew that this was going to be my last year (playing). I knew I'd only play when we were short. I've come to grips with the fact the playing career is over," he said. "In a way, it's invigorated me to stay in the game. You see everything from a different pair of goggles."

O'Dette has a well-rounded perspective of the sport's landscape as it is. He never missed the playoffs in his final five seasons, four of which he served as captain. He helped guide the Thunder to their first Kelly Cup playoff series victory in 2008-09 after signing with the club as a free agent at mid-season.

Among his accomplishments was helping lift the Falcons to their first Pacific Division title, 100-point season and berth in the National Conference Finals in 2005-06. He was a part of two Calder Cup finalist teams, with Saint John in 1997-98 and Hamilton in 2002-03, and was a member of the Montreal Canadiens' "Black Aces" during the team's 2003 Stanley Cup Playoff run.

I think the biggest thing I bring to the table is I like to think I was a professional, the way I approached the game," he said. "Guys see how I take the game seriously. It's been a fine line with the coaching aspects and how you handle the players.

"It (being an assistant) is almost the same role (as captain). But it's a step beyond that. It's being on the same side as the guys, but parlaying that on to the coach because I'm an assistant coach."

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