By Erica Whyte (published on June 11, 2019)
With 16 seasons and 860 professional games under his belt, Nathan Paetsch knows a thing or two about hockey.
And during the 2018-19 season, the 36-year-old assistant captain put that knowledge and experience to use, serving as an extension of the coaching staff while being a rock-solid leader in the Rochester Americans’ locker room.
Despite suiting up for just 11 games and tallying three points (1+2), he was often seen quietly working through plays and coaxing his teammates on the sidelines.
Helping the young prospects transition into the American Hockey League and beyond.
WATCH: NATHAN PAETSCH YEAR-END INTERVIEW
“That is my job and something I take pride in doing,” said Paetsch on locker cleanout day. “I think a lot of guys came a long way this year and it was a lot of fun to watch them progress in their careers. I hope they can make that next jump.”
A jump that Paetsch, who began his professional career in Rochester several years ago, once took himself. After being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Draft, the blueliner spent three seasons as an Amerk before graduating to the NHL as a Sabre, where he spent an the next three and a half seasons.
His first of three stints in Rochester during the 2003-04 season brought much more than just hockey experience. Over a decade ago, Paetsch met his wife, Jaclyn, a Rochester native, and bought a house in Spencerport, eventually having two kids, who now also call the Flower City home. The community welcomed him in, which is why he is now so passionate about giving back to the city that has given him so much.
“This is home,” said the Amerks Man of the Year for two consecutive seasons, an award Paetsch received for his community service in the Rochester area. “It’s very important to give back to a community that has adopted me and taken me under their wing. To be able to reach back through the Amerks, I am fortunate to be a part of it.”
WATCH: NATHAN PAETSCH YEAR IN REVIEW WITH ERICA WHYTE
And that’s not all he has done to give back. This summer, Paetsch is hosting the Nathan Paetsch School of Defensemen hockey camp at the Hockey Academy at the Rochester Ice Center, coaching children both on and off the ice.
“It’s two different age groups in the summer,” he said of the camp in August, which gives him further opportunity to coach and mentor. “It is just a lot of fun. It kind of gives the kids a feel of what it’s like to be a professional hockey player and what we deal with on a regular basis.”
When he’s not coaching, Paetsch plans to spend time with his kids, Mira and Kellen, and as he has in years past, their family will be taking one much anticipated vacation.
“We will be going to Disney World in Florida again," he concluded. “The kids love it and it’s a lot of fun to get away.”