RETIRING last month as a goaltender in the National Hockey League, Carter Hutton molded himself quite a career through a decade of on-ice action.
His impressive story, where he continually made the most of opportunities, Hutton felt it was a measured progression that led him to being an NHL regular.
“I remember one summer of training it all just started to come together,” he offered. “My strength and abilities took a big jump, but other than that, I can’t say there was just one point. It was more of a gradual growth for me. I always had a mindset to work and keep building day-to-day. That for me was the template for success.”
Being an unheralded prospect was also something that motivated the netminder.
“I think for me, never being drafted or getting priority on teams, taught me to be relentless in that aspect. To not get down or lose that edge if things didn’t go my way. I believe that was instilled in me at a young age in Thunder Bay. Failures turned into motivations and persistence which I truly believe I benefitted from on the rink and in life.”
Suiting up for NHL clubs in Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis, Buffalo and Arizona, Hutton certainly proved his worth.
Among those from Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario, who appeared in 100, or more, games Hutton wrapped up his time in the NHL fifth all-time, in career victories with 94.
Further proof that he was a bona fide netminder in the league sees him sitting in top spot, of all those who hailed from the region, in goals-against average (2.76), second in save percentage (.908) and fourth in shutouts (13).
Like most players, competing in certain cities, rank higher than others.
For Hutton, he said: “Playing in Nashville had to be my favourite, especially as a member of the Predators. Even returning as an opponent, it was just a great place to play.”
Other featured places for him included: “The atmosphere in Vegas is amazing. The energy, the music and just knowing where you are playing always got the adrenaline pumping. Even warm-ups were a huge party for the fans. It was a lot of fun.”
Competing in Canada was also ever-popular for Hutton: “Montreal was my favourite Canadian city.
Especially if the Habs were playing well; then games there are electric. For me, knowing the history of the team and getting a Saturday Hockey Night in Canada game there was always a childhood dream.”
Throughout his decade-long run in the NHL, he cherished certain other memories he recorded along the way.
“Getting the shutout in the last St. Louis game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, against the Red Wings, stands out to me,” he boasted. “They were my favourite team growing up.”
Establishing a pair of team goaltending marks also stands high on his list of accomplishments.
“I think one of the coolest stats on my NHL resume is holding the franchise record for most saves in a shutout for both Buffalo and St. Louis,” he reflected on making 47 stops for the Sabres on the road in blanking the Los Angeles Kings on October 17, 2019 and 48 more for the Blues in stonewalling the Jets back on December 16, 2017.
“The St. Louis-Winnipeg game was aired on Hockey Night in Canada. One thing that really added to that was getting the towel they give out during the post-game interviews. It’s now proudly on display in my son’s bedroom.”
Now a month into retirement, Hutton, for the moment, plans to take some time before deciding what’s next.
“Right now, it’s just getting back and settled in at home in Thunder Bay. I’m just trying to enjoy some quality time with friends and family. Currently, my priorities are my wife Stacey and our kids Palmer and Emery. I had a long career where everything came second to my sport so I’m really enjoying the freedom and appreciating getting to spend lots of time with my family.”
Still savouring what hockey has given him is something he hasn’t forgotten.
“I still have so much love for the game and feel so grateful for everything it has given me and taught me. Of course, I’m looking forward to coaching my kids on the outdoor rinks; on the driveway; on a team or just cheering them on in whatever they choose to pursue. I can’t say I have the drive to coach at a high level right now though. The time commitment and travel are something I can’t commit to, but you never know what the future holds.”
Looking back, from being a record-setting standout Jr. A goaltender locally to continuing to excel through the NCAA ranks, right through to the NHL, his story is remarkable and remains something he’s truly cognizant of.
“For me, I’m proud to have made the NHL the way I did. Not being drafted or a youth standout. I believe in hard work and a positive attitude for anything in life can go a long way. I always hope that my story can be helpful to a kid who is down about being cut from a team, losing a game or not having things go their way. That day-by-day work can lead to success and is integral in all parts of life.”
Family also played a pivotal role in his success throughout the years.
“More then anything I am grateful for my parents, Jack and Linda, my sister Wiley, my wife Stacey and my kids. The sacrifices they have made for me and the support they have given me throughout my entire life can never be measured. I also wouldn’t be where I am today without my close friends, teammates, teachers and coaches. I met so many amazing people throughout my career it’s hard to even begin to thank them all. I am so fortunate that I can say I was able to live out my dream of playing in the best league in the world – the NHL.”