No, Steve Yetman has never toted his pack down a Winnemucca Road, but he’s played everywhere ... man.
The 27-year-old gives new meaning to the oft-used term of journeyman. Over the last decade, Yetman has never settled in any one place for longer than one season.
“It was great to travel the world, I loved every minute of it,” says the St. John’s native whose career began with the Charlottetown, P.E.I., Abbies of the Maritime junior A circuit in 2001.
Since then, he’s had stops in Nova Scotia, Missouri, Illinois, Norway, Denmark, New York, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
“I’ve been to a lot of places.”
This fall, Yetman added yet another stamp to his hockey passport, albeit one closer to home: Clarenville.
“The Caribous had been calling me for the last four or five years asking me to stay home and play for them,” says Yetman, who had told the team’s management that when he was ready to return to Newfoundland and play senior hockey, Clarenville would be his first choice.
“Last year, I was really thinking about staying home. I actually signed a card with them, but I told them if a job came up in Europe, I would be leaving. I didn’t want to leave hang them out to dry.
Europe did beckon last season, with an offer from the Tilburg Trappers of the North Sea Cup, Netherland’s top tier professional hockey league.
“A buddy of mine I played with in Elmira (of the ECHL) was there ,so I said, ‘Shag it, I’ll go and try it out.’”
Through 37 games Yetman racked up 77 points, the most he’d recorded since his third year of junior with the Yarmouth, N.S., Mariners, when he put up 101 points in 52 games.
The Trappers asked him to return this season, but Yetman had already made up his mind; he was going home.
“I knew eventually there would come a time when I was going to stay home and do something else with my life, and hockey wouldn’t always be there.
“I wasn’t making enough money in Europe that I could make a career out of it. I’m 27, which is still pretty young, but I eventually had to do something with my life.”
That something is training to become an electrician. He was hired on with a friend’s electrical company and is already three months into his apprenticeship — “I gave myself one little shock, it was only 120 volts though, so I was OK,” Yetman admits.
When he’s not an electrician-in-training, Yetman has provided quite a spark for the first-place Caribous.
Heading into the Christmas break, the six-foot, 200-pound centreman has nine goals and 11 assists in 12 games, good for second overall in the league behind teammate Ryan Desrosiers.
As someone who hasn’t played competitively on North American-sized ice in a few years, Yetman noticed an immediate difference.
“Over there, you have the extra couple of seconds to react with the puck. Here, you don’t have much time, you’ve got to be really quick with your decision making.
Caribous’ captain Dustin Russell, Yetman’s linemate for much of the year, says Yetman brings a huge offensive upside.
“He sees the ice very well,” Russell suggests. “He’s an excellent playmaker and makes his linemates and those around him better.
“He has high expectations of himself and it’s certainly translating on the ice this year.”
Just as Yetman’s adjusted to playing on the smaller ice surface again, Russell says his teammate has adjusted well to the life of a senior hockey player in Newfoundland.
“Sometimes guys come home and in their first year or two they have a harder time adjusting to every-day work life, and playing hockey on the weekends. Steve hasn’t.”
Moreover, Russell says Yetman is very humble.
“He certainly doesn’t come across as a guy who thinks he should be playing elsewhere. He’s content where he is.”
After travelling many a road in North America and Europe, Yetman isn’t sure where he’ll end up beyond this season. But there’s still plenty of hockey left in him.
“It would be hard to give up hockey,” he says. “I’ve been going away since I was 16. Hockey is all I’ve ever known.”