Peca on not being signed yet: 'If something is meant to be, it'll happen'

October, 7, 2009

The NHL's regular season is in full swing, but a two-time Selke Trophy winner and Olympic gold medalist remains at home.

Veteran center Michael Peca is without an NHL job, although he certainly didn't sound beaten down by that reality when we talked to him Wednesday.

"Just living life," Peca told "Being a father and a hockey dad. It's fun."

The 35-year-old unrestricted free agent hasn't given up hope on playing this season, but also isn't sitting nervously near his phone waiting for it to ring.

"If something is meant to be, it'll happen, and if it's not, then it won't. That's how I'm looking at it," he said. "I'm more than prepared to move on."

He's enjoying life at home in Buffalo, N.Y., with his wife and two children, a 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

"Hockey has been a big part of my life, but family is the No. 1 thing in my life," Peca said. "When you can fill your days, weeks and months with things that are fun, then it's not all that bad."

Peca played 71 games with the Blue Jackets last season, his second in Columbus and 13th in the NHL. He knew right away after the season he wasn't in the Jackets' plans.

"I got a sense that it was time for me to move on," Peca said. "I would have liked to stay. I think they've got a great nucleus of young players. They're got the makings of a lot of great years. But you know what, they were going to go in another direction, and I understood that. That's fine."

He chuckled at his year-end conversation with Jackets GM Scott Howson.

"I got a sense that I would need to be patient going into the offseason when you have your end-of-the-season meeting and the general manager asks you, 'Do you still want to play, and have you thought about coaching?'" Peca said. "And he meant it with the upmost confidence in me and respect. I've never met a person in my time in the game that has more integrity than Scott Howson."

Peca knew it might be that kind of summer with other teams, as well.

"The common theme throughout is that teams wanted to see what their young guys could do," he said. "Teams are going with youth in different positions, where maybe in the past, they were a little reluctant to. The league is getting younger. There's a lot of good young players. It makes for exciting hockey, that's for sure."

So what will life after hockey look like for Peca if he doesn't catch on with a team this season?

"It's a little too soon to think about that," Peca said, before adding with a laugh, "although I have had a lot of people start to ask me.''

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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