Courtesy Spokane Chiefs
Consider that Chris Bruton has captained a Memorial Cup Champion, earned a college degree and is now playing professionally you can accuse him of taking advantage. The former Chiefs' captain has been building himself as both a person and player since breaking into the Chiefs' lineup as a 17-year-old in 2004.
"Spokane gave us all an opportunity to lay a foundation and learn the right way to play the game. From there, it's about taking advantage of the opportunities that you're provided with," he said.
"I have my degree in my back pocket and am now in my third year of pro hockey. I couldn't be more excited."
The most recent highlight for the Calgary, Alberta native was signing a two-way NHL/AHL contract with the New York Islanders earlier this week.
"Everyone has different paths," Bruton said. "You look at guys from the Memorial Cup team and a lot of those players stepped right into pro hockey and they're excelling. For me, I wanted to take advantage of the education fund."
Bruton was named to the Chiefs Top 25 Chiefs in 25 Years after he captained the 2008 club to their second Memorial Cup Championship. Six players from that team have played in the NHL with several others having success in other professional leagues and collegiality.
Bruton earned the funds necessary to attend Acadia University after he played four seasons in Spokane. For each season spent in the Western Hockey League a player receives a year's worth of education costs. That allowed Bruton to earn his degree in Business Administration, in three years, from Acadia University in Nova Scotia.
Two professional seasons have been split with Alaska of the East Coast Hockey League and the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League.
"I learned a lot moving up the ranks. The half year I spent in Alaska I had a great time. I think with the NHL lockout earlier in the year the AHL was as good as it is ever going to be and it showed me that consistency and preparation are the keys to being a professional."
After leading the Rivermen in penalty minutes and finishing the season with a positive plus-minus, Bruton earned his opportunity with the Islanders.
"I think they saw what my game is about. I also doubled my points from the year before and was able to stay in the American Hockey League for the entire season. I think they see a part of my game that can be incorporated into their organization."