For Justin Williams, it was about rekindling special memories.
For Trevor van Riemsdyk, it was his first look around. And, he said, exciting.
Williams returned Monday to the Carolina Hurricanes’ home locker room at PNC Arena, pointing to where he once sat in the room when the Canes won the Stanley Cup in 2006. For the record, the forward was next to then-captain Rod Brind’Amour.
While Williams was a high-profile free-agent signing, van Riemsdyk was obtained by the Canes in a June 22 trade. Exposed to the NHL expanson draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, the defenseman was selected by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, then dealt to the Canes.
Van Riemsdyk was in town Thursday, getting his first look-see around the room, the city, and taking a real-estate tour to find a place to live.
“Just getting here makes you feel like home,” he said, smiling.
It should feel a little like Chicago – maybe a different south side of Chicago – when his teammates arrive in Raleigh in a few months. The Canes in the past two years have traded for such former Blackhawks as goalie Scott Darling and forwards Marcus Kruger, Joakim Nordstrom and Teuvo Teravainen.
“They all had great things to say, not only about the town and the team but the whole environment here,” van Riemsdyk said.
Canes defenseman Brett Pesce and van Riemsdyk were college teammates and roommates at New Hampshire and at times played together in the same defensive pairing. Pesce is from Tarrytown, N.Y., and van Riemsdyk a native of Middletown, N.J., adding another American-born, college-playing D-man to the Canes’ roster.
Van Riemsdyk also played with Canes defenseman Noah Hanifin for Team USA in the 2017 IIHF World Championship in May.
Van Riemsdyk, who will turn 26 on Monday, was not drafted by an NHL team – older brother James van Riemsdyk of the Toronto Maple Leafs was the second overall pick in 2007 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Trevor van Riemsdyk was signed by the Blackhawks in March 2014 and made his NHL debut for Chicago in October 2014.
Talk about good timing, among the belongings van Riemsdyk could bring to Raleigh, unless it’s in safekeeping, is his Stanley Cup ring from the Blackhawks’ run in 2015.
“They took me in right from college and gave me a chance right away, and I’ll forever be grateful for that,” van Riemsdyk said Thursday.
Now, he’s ready for a new start in a new town. A new home.