At 27, Brandon Yip says he has something to prove.
The Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association product recently re-signed with the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators, inking a one-year deal worth $750,000.
"There was some relief, in the sense that I didn't have to go through free agency and stressing about where I was going to be all summer, but excited was more the feeling I had," said Yip, about his newly signed contract.
A one-year contract was best for both sides, in Yip's opinion.
"I was happy with the one-year because I feel I have more to prove, and want to get back on track and have a great year," he said.
Getting a short-term deal done with the Preds was a bit of redemption for the 6'1" 195-pound right winger, whose career has matched his blue-collar playing style, in that there have been a few bumps along the way.
This past January, Yip had to deal with the emotional blow of being put on waivers by his former team, the Colorado Avalanche, before being scooped up by the Predators.
With Nashville, he tallied three goals and seven points in 25 games, then was a part of its 10-game playoff run, in which he scored once and added one assist.
"Nashville was an unbelievable experience," Yip said, regarding last season. "I was a little nervous coming into a new team halfway through the year, but the organization, coaches, and especially the boys, made me feel right at home from day one. We had a great team with a disappointing finish, but I truly enjoyed my time in Nashville. The city itself is pretty cool, too."
His new teammates made him feel right at home.
Before he came to Nashville, Yip already knew Preds' all-world defenceman Shea Weber, as well as forward Colin Wilson.
"I did play with Webs in summer leagues when we were young, and Willy at BU, so it was nice to have two buddies on the team prior to arriving," he said.
Yip's road to the NHL was a somewhat unlikely one, considering he was in what many would consider to be no man's land - selected by the Avalanche in the eighth round, 239th overall - at the 2004 NHL draft.
The former junior B Ridge Meadows Flames and junior A Coquitlam Express star was drafted right out of the B.C. Hockey League.
A year after getting drafted, Yip went on to play at Boston University. The best of his four seasons at BU was his last, 2008/09, when he tallied 20 goals and 43 points in 45 games to go along with 118 minutes in penalties. He helped the Terriers win the national championship that year and signed one-year contract with the Avalanche.
In 2009/10, Yip had a six-game stint with the American Hockey League's Lake Erie Monsters before making the jump to the NHL.
The pace of the NHL, considered to be the cr‚me de la cr‚me of the hockey world, is the equivalent of someone hitting life's fast forward button and forgetting to switch it off.
"The pace of the game is what I first noticed coming into the league," Yip said. "Everyone is so fast and strong."
But it's not just the frenetic speed of the NHL that took Yip aback, initially.
"More importantly, every player is smart and knows where to be or where to move the puck," he said. "It takes a few mistakes to really learn how to play to the pace, but you eventually settle in."
He played nearly a full season (71 games) with the Avs in 2010/11 but this year, was thrown to the waiver wire by the team that drafted him. Yip had mixed feelings about the move.
"I enjoyed my time with Colorado, but towards the end it was time something happened," he said. "I just wanted to play some hockey and I wasn't getting that with them. They were going in a different direction and I can understand that. I mean, it obviously doesn't feel good to feel rejection, but in the same way I was excited to move on and take my career in a different direction. I learned a lot from the situation and I think it will only help my future."
As for his future, Yip's mantra is "one day at a time."
"I have a few short term and long term goals, but for right now I am strictly focusing on my summer training," he said. "That's the biggest thing I can control right now, so my head is wrapped around that."
Yip, who has put up 26 goals and 48 points in 138 career NHL games, feels he has potential that's still untapped.
"I have had some ups and downs so far but I believe that I am ready to put it all together," Yip said. "There is a lot that goes into being a pro and that's something I have learned."
Away from the rink, the culture of his old NHL home in Denver and his new digs in Nashville are polar opposites. Yip is lovin' life in Music City.
"The cities are completely different, but my daily routines during the seasons pretty much stayed the same," he said. "There is lots of down time, so I always try and find fun things to do. I go crazy if I'm just hanging around all day."
He hasn't forgotten his roots, and says he enjoys coming back to the place where he grew up, the place he refers to as "ol' Ridgedog," to visit family and friends.
"I usually stay for a couple weeks here and there during the summer," Yip said. "I will always come home."
Yip had humble beginnings in "Ridgedog." He started in the RMHA at six years old and when his dad signed him up, Yip admitted he "was the worst player out there."
"But by the end of the year I could hold my own," he said, adding with a laugh that he, "won most improved."
Yip said he was really fortunate to have several great coaches who helped him along the way.
He started realizing he had a shot at the pro game after his first season with the B.C. Hockey League's Express.
As a BCHL rookie in 2003/04, Yip put up fairly big numbers (31 goals and 69 points).
"Up to that point I was just trying to grind out a scholarship somewhere," he said.