Simon Hughes | First full season with hometown team
Simon Hughes was sitting with his family at the 2020 Québec Major Junior Hockey League entry draft hoping he would be selected by a Maritime team. The Prince Edward Island native wanted to stay close to home.
He knew teams like the Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs were interested. His excitement grew as the Wildcats came to the stage to make the twenty-third overall pick.
“The Moncton Wildcats select Ryan Hopkins.”
A Maritime team passed up on taking him.
Hughes knew his name would be called soon. His spirits stayed high.
Then, with the thirty-eighth overall pick, the Sea Dogs came to the stage.
“We are proud to select Simon Hughes.”
Hughes was just happy to be picked.
“It was a day I dreamt of forever, so to get selected to Saint John, a team in the Maritimes, a team I wanted to go to at the time, was definitely a really special feeling,” Hughes said. “I didn’t really want to go to Québec right away as a 16-year-old.”
Hughes only played seven games in Saint John. Today he is playing for his hometown team, the Charlottetown Islanders.
“It’s a dream come true for sure. I was one of those kids in the stands watching guys like Daniel Sprong and Kameron Kielly, being on the flip side, five years later having kids and fans coming up to me and giving me support, it’s unbelievable and it gives me a lot of motivation,” he said.
He loves that he can be at home with his family.
“You can’t beat it,” he said. “I’m super grateful to have my parents as billets. Being away from home for a bit and coming back to that was definitely nice. They’re always there for me and they’re always supporting me any way they can. They are my biggest fans.”
Before coming home, Hughes was traded from Saint John to the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
“It was a change in pace, it’s just a different lifestyle over there,” he said. “At the start it was different. It was hard at first, you know with people speaking French.”
Hughes spent a season and a half with the Voltigeurs. In 90 games, he scored 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points.
He was traded to the Islanders over the Christmas break in the 2022-23 season.
Hughes appreciates everything head coach Jim Hulton has done for him since arriving in Charlottetown.
“He’s an unbelievable coach, he’s the best coach in the league for a reason,” he said. “He taught the importance of being a complete player but also the importance of being a complete person. I learned how to be a pro and how to take care of myself and also conduct myself as a player and a person.”
He knew he had a lot to learn and Hulton helped him learn quickly.
Hulton likes what he brings to the Islanders’ lineup.
“Well Simon brings a big power-forward presence to our lineup that we sorely lacked last year. He scored some of the tough goals and he skates really well for his size,” Hulton said.
So far with the team, through 45 games, Hughes has 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points.
He wants to go on a playoff run with the Islanders before his career is done in Charlottetown.
“I want the Islanders to be a good team, and that’s what I’m focused on,” he said. “Being an older guy in the league I want to give some of the younger guys knowledge and also drive the ship to do something special in Charlottetown.
Hughes and the Islanders return to the ice on Nov. 25 at home to take on the Val-d’or Foreurs. Puck drop at the Eastlink Centre is at 7 p.m.