Mike Blunden’s hockey resume reads like the verse of a Johnny Cash song. He’s been through Erie, Rockford, Norfolk and Hamilton; Columbus, Chicago, Syracuse and Binghamton (just to name a few places).
But the journeyman is now shooting pucks in the Bay of Quinte region with a new American Hockey League franchise, the Belleville Senators.
The 31-year-old father of two kids is finding Belleville isn’t just a great place to play hockey; it’s also a great place to raise a family. He spoke to us about his family’s experience moving to the Bay of Quinte region, and continuing their hockey journey. He and his wife have a three-year-old girl, Darcie, and a one-year-old boy, Beau.
What has it been like for you and your family, moving into the Belleville community and getting settled?
It has been great; it’s unbelievable. My daughter goes to pre-school here. We have the kids set up in activities and everything. It’s a great family town. My wife loves it. It’s a great community … It’s very family oriented … It has been awesome.
When you’re not at the rink, what are you usually doing? Have you had a chance to get out and see the community.
When I’m not at the rink, I’m home with our family, and we’re usually in our neighbourhood. We ended up buying a house in the West Park Village. We love it there. It’s a beautiful community. My kids love the park so I spend a lot of time at the park there. It’s been great for us so far.
Honestly, I’ve only gone fishing once. But (my teammates) have gone out fishing a few times and have enjoyed it; catching nice walleye … It’s great for the guys to stick together. A couple guys have been out hunting and stuff and having fun.
As a professional hockey player, you’ve had to move around a lot. When you move, is it easier if you know you’re coming to a small family-oriented community like Belleville?
Yeah it is. It has been a journey. It’s tough moving around, but the reason why we signed with (the Ottawa Senators NHL organization) was we knew the (minor league) team was coming to Belleville, when it wasn’t officially announced. My wife wanted to be here in Belleville. It’s close to home for us; we’re from Ottawa so it’s two hours door-to-door so it’s great for us.”
When you retire from hockey, can you imagine settling in a city like Belleville?
Honestly, I have no idea what I’m going to do post-hockey. But it’s a family town and my kids have enjoyed it. It will definitely be on our list; potentially settling down in Belleville.
What has it been like playing in front of Belleville hockey fans?
I’ve been at every home game; it’s a great building the fans are into it … we just want to keep setting a great atmosphere here and playing in front of them … The fans have been supporting us and (the team) is the talk around town. It’s fun going around town and people are asking us ‘how is the team doing.?’ Hopefully we’re brining some good entertainment for them.
And how is the team doing in this, the inaugural season?
We’ve had a tough schedule to start, being on the road for the whole first month and then coming home for a month. It’s been crazy, but we’ve done well so far. Now we want to take the next step. Keep winning games and make sure we’re in a playoff spot when the times comes.”
Belleville Senators captain Mike Blunden is pictured at the Yardmen Arena.