By Michael Mazzei
Former Ryerson men’s hockey captain Michael Fine signed his first professional hockey contract in early May, reportedly inking a one-year deal with the Esbjerg Energy in Denmark.
Fine, 26, is the Rams’ all-time leader in points (132) and assists (83), and he was twice named a first-team Ontario University Athletics (OUA) all-star during his five seasons with Ryerson.
With Esbjerg, Fine will play on European ice, which is a significant change from the rinks to which he’s become accustomed. Fine said his experience at Ryerson helped prepare him for the next chapter in his hockey career playing with the two-time defending champion of Metal Ligaen, the top-tier league in Denmark.
“I was put into so many situations here at Ryerson to succeed that it was really on me to capitalize on the opportunities I was given,” he said. “I tried to be the best I could and I tried to be a consistent player and be a leader for the team since year one.”
Fine came to Ryerson after five years in the Ontario Hockey League and relished the idea of playing in the former Maple Leaf Gardens, the same arena where his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs and his mentor during his time with the Kingston Frontenacs, Doug Gilmour, used to skate.
While Fine is looking forward to the challenges ahead, he remains proud of both his and his team’s accomplishments throughout his days as a Ram.
“It’s something that I can look back and say that I am happy with what I did,” he said. “When I look at those numbers, all I can think about are my teammates and the coaching staff that helped me achieve it.”
Much like Ryerson’s hockey program over the past decade, Fine improved his play each season and established career-highs in offensive categories in his final year, netting 17 goals and dishing 20 assists. Off the ice, he learned to balance his hockey career with his academic studies, completing his degree in arts and contemporary studies.
Rams head coach Johnny Duco believes that Fine’s professional contract is a reminder to current and future students that opportunities to continue a hockey career after Ryerson are possible.
“It’s always great for our program when graduating players sign pro contracts,” he said. “It shows our players and recruits that if they do things the right way there will be an opportunity to play professional hockey after school.”
“Mike left his finger prints all over the Ryerson men’s hockey program and there’s no doubt he left the program in a better place than he found it.”