Austin Plevy’s got a lot of eyes watching him as the Chilliwack Chiefs prepare for the start of the 2012-13 season.
The centerpiece of an off-season deal that sent Derek Huisman to Merritt, Plevy comes to town charged with the tall task of replacing last season’s best two-way forward.
Huisman scored 30 goals and 65 points in 58 games last season. He was out for every key faceoff and got regular rave reviews from head coach Harvey Smyl for his defensive work.
The Smithers native leaves a hard act to follow, and Plevy won’t be expected to do everything that he did.
But the former Langley Riverman wasn’t acquired to be a passenger either.
He was acquired to lead the offence.
“There’s a little bit of pressure knowing how much he did last year, but I’ve got confidence in myself to do what he did,” Plevy acknowledged. “Defensively, Steve O’Rourke did a lot of video work with me last year and really helped me improve my D. It’s probably the most improved part of my game the last two seasons.”
Plevy’s offseason arrival in Chilliwack wasn’t by accident.
He had to take a roundabout path to get where he wanted to be, but he was always intent on wearing the red, gold and white of the Chiefs.
The 2011-12 season ended with the Rivermen missing the playoffs, and Plevy started his summer by requesting a trade.
“Langley’s a great place and I’ve lived there since I was born, but the team and environment wasn’t the right fit for me,” Plevy said, leaving plenty to be read between the lines. “I did ask to be moved. It was a tough decision, but it was the right thing for me to do.”
The Rivermen granted Plevy’s trade request, kinda sorta, by sending him to Merritt. The playing rights of Plevy and Sebastien Pare went up the Coquihalla in exchange for Jakob Reichert.
In very little time, the Centennials flipped Plevy to Chilliwack along with the rights to goaltender Keith Hamilton, in exchange for Huisman.
“I met with the coach (Merritt bench boss Luke Pierce) at a Tim Horton’s in Langley, just to talk about the season,” Plevy said. “Instead, he told me and my dad that I’d been traded to Chilliwack. We just sat there looking at each other like, ‘Wow. This is what we wanted. This is where I wanted to play.’”
If Plevy wasn’t comfortable with how things went in Langley, he knows exactly how things will go in Chilliwack.
The 18-year-old is being re-united with the coach who first brought him into the BCHL as a precocious 16-year-old. Harvey Smyl had Plevy in the lineup for 53 games in 2009-10, and thought enough of him two years later to bring him back.
“The way he ran the team in Langley and the way I know he ran it last year in Chilliwack, that’s exactly what I want,” Plevy said. “He’s a guy who’s going to be honest all the time. He communicates with you and you always know what he’s thinking. If you’re having a good day, he’ll let you know. If you’re having a bad day, he’ll let you know. He’s just a real players’ coach and he’s an easy guy to look up to.”
Plevy is listed on the BCHL website at five-foot-nine and 165 pounds, though he looks bigger in person. Plevy had 13 goals and 43 points in 58 games last year, and looks capable of meeting Huisman’s offensive output.
“I’m a speedy forward who can put the puck in the net,” Plevy said. “I’m a pass-first guy who would rather make a play than score a goal, but hopefully this year I can start taking more shots.”
If he can put 30 or so of those shots behind BCHL goalies, no one will be second-guessing this trade.