Skating with Red Wings gives Nathan Gerbe a rare home visit

Oxford native Nathan Gerbe is preparing for his first season as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes organization. (Michael Caples/MiHockey)

 

By Stefan Kubus -

For Nathan Gerbe, being home in Oxford, Mich. even for a brief period of the summer isn’t exactly common.

The 26-year-old Gerbe spent time in Ann Arbor playing for the U.S. NTDP, but that was the last time he was permanently in Michigan. From then on, Gerbe made headlines at Boston College before beginning his NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres organization. His next stop will be in Raleigh; Gerbe signed with the Carolina Hurricanes this summer.

However, skating with the Detroit Red Wings during their informal skates last week at Joe Louis Arena allowed the 5-foot-5, 178-pound winger some rare time at home.

“I haven’t really been here in the last 10 or so years,” Gerbe said. “I’m always gone, but my family is still in Oxford, I visit them all the time and stay with them.”

Even during summers, Gerbe spends the bulk of his time training in Darien, Conn. with Prentiss Hockey Performance. Led by trainer Ben Prentiss, PHP trains an impressive group of NHL talent that includes the likes of last year’s Art Ross Trophy winner Martin St. Louis, Max Pacioretty, Matt Moulson and Torey Krug.

“It’s been a lot of fun working with Ben Prentiss and their unbelievable group there,” Gerbe said. “He’s an awesome trainer.”

Gerbe training with the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. (Michael Caples/MiHockey)

 

This upcoming season could be considered an especially key one for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft’s 142nd pick, as he just signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes after he had the final year of his deal with the Sabres bought out.

In 188 career NHL games, all with Buffalo, Gerbe has tallied 29 goals and 43 assists for 72 points. In 2010-11, he racked up a career-high 16 goals and 31 points in 64 games before being plagued with concussion and back problems.

This past season, Gerbe collected five goals and five assists in 42 contests during the lockout-shortened season. Having a full summer of training under his belt and a full NHL season to focus on once again, the newest member of the Hurricanes said he’s greeting the newest chapter in his career with open arms.

“I’m excited, pumped, looking forward to the fresh start,” Gerbe said. “I just want to go into camp and work hard and get a chance to make the team.”