Cast aside by Soo Greyhounds midway through the 2011-12 Ontario Hockey League season, forward Michael Kantor found a welcome home 180 miles down Highway 17 in Sudbury with the Wolves.
In fact, Kantor has fit in so well in Sudbury that he was chosen as one of the Wolves three overagers -- defenceman Charlie Dodero and goalie Joel Vienneau are the others -- for this 2012-13 season.
Meanwhile, the two players the Greyhounds obtained for Kantor at the 2011-12 trade deadline -- forward Greg Jambrosich and defenceman Cody Mintz -- were released by the Soo prior to the start of this season.
Kantor, known primarily as a checker and penalty killer who played with a physical edge, has developed into a top six forward with the Wolves. And the man who traded for Kantor -- wily Wolves general manager Blaine Smith -- is a big fan of the 6-foot, 198 pounder from Lake Forest, Illinois.
"Michael is a very good player who has really picked up his offensive game since his arrival here in Sudbury," Smith told me. "He's a real team player who cares about his team and his teammates. He throws hard hits and plays such a physical style. We expect Michael to represent the heart and soul of the Sudbury Wolves this season."
Kantor, while not about to change the style of play that first got him into the OHL with the Saginaw Spirit in 2009, has welcomed the opportunity to have more of an offensive role in Sudbury.
"I hope to show my whole game this season and put some points on the board. This is my last year in the league, so I want to do some damage," Kantor told the Sudbury Star.
Wolves head coach Trent Cull is also a fan of Kantor, who has become a point-per-game-type player with the Wolves.
"I really like Mike," Cull said. "I like how he comes to play every night. He skates well, he's big and he's aggressive and he makes some pretty nice plays, too. And I really like his demeanour in the dressing room. We need a guy like him. He has really found a home with us."
Cull added that Kantor is a good example for his Sudbury teammates.
"Mike is a guy who competes no matter what the situation. He plays hard. That's the way you should play."