This week, the Brandon Wheat Kings announced the signing of recently retired NHL forward and local Brandon product Matt Calvert as a development coach for the coming 2021-22 Western Hockey League season.
Having spent 10 seasons within the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche, the 31-year-old hung up his skates, but was not able to stay away from the game for long. Currently living in Brandon with his wife, Courtney, and their two sons Kasey and Beau, Calvert will now spend most of his time at Westman Place preparing for the coming year.
“Im excited to move my family back to Brandon,” Calvert said in a team-issued media release. “Im excited to have the opportunity to help these players out and try and make them better every day. It’s been a lot of fun spending this time off with my family, but it’s time to get back to work.’
According to the team, Calvert will also serve in a role that helps assist players with with career development. This will entail various sorts of skill development, fitness, nutrition, mental health, and education.
“Matt is someone that we want in our organization,” GM Doug Gasper said. “He was a model Wheat King and more importantly he is a great person from a great family. It was an easy decision to have him working with our players and staff.”
In recently announcing his official retirement from professional hockey, Calvert walked away due to injuries suffered late in his career, which included 598 total games played (both regular season and playoffs).
“My favourite parts of the ride were the locker room and the fans,” Calvert wrote in a retirement social media post. “It wasn’t the same without the fans cheering us on this last year. We feed off of them. The fans make the game special. It was an absolute honour to wear the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche jerseys throughout my career. I would bleed for those organizations any day.”
Drafted 127th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Calvert skated for eight years with Columbus, before choosing to join the Colorado Avalanche in July of 2018. He set a career high in points in his first year with the Avalanche, before only managing 18 games played in 2020-21, due to injury.
He finished with 95 goals and 203 points in 566 regular season games, while adding 17 points in 32 postseason contests.
Calvert’s minor hockey career began in Brandon, to which he was lucky enough to continue playing junior within his hometown. Suiting up for three years of play with the Wheaties, Calvert became a fan favourite, leading the team in scoring with 47 goals in his final year of play in the Wheat City as team captain.
One of Calvert’s career highlights was a shorthanded, natural hat trick with the Wheat Kings against the Calgary Hitmen back in 2010. And just one year later, he scored his first career National Hockey League natural hat trick with the Blue Jackets in a February contest with the Phoenix Coyotes.