It would be hard to match the frequent flier miles that Benn Ferriero racked up during the last three seasons as a member of the San Jose Sharks organization. During those three seasons, Ferriero was recalled by San Jose from the Worcester Sharks 14 times.
Each trip was more than 3,000 miles one way, and Ferriero was logging enough flight time to qualify for his own pilot's license.
All the plane trips -- it got tough at times, he said. I'm not going to lie. It was difficult.
And Ferriero isn't speaking about the travel. Sure, he ended up appearing in 92 NHL games during his three seasons with the San Jose organization, but splitting his time between Worcester and the parent Sharks robbed him of something every pro athlete desires.
When you're getting sent down and called up once a week, it makes it tough to be a part of a team, Ferriero said. You want to be a part of something, and when you keep going back and forth it makes it difficult sometimes.
Still, the 25-year-old is quick to point out that the experience provided plenty of positives as well.
He scored his first NHL goal in his second NHL game, on Oct. 3, 2009, against Jonas Hiller and the Anaheim Ducks. Fellow rookies Jason Demers and Frazer McLaren earned their first NHL points by assisting on the play.
I was pretty excited and happy to get it going, Ferriero said.
Later, during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, Ferriero scored his first NHL postseason goal while appearing in his first playoff game. He did it on his 24th birthday, during the opening game of the Sharks' second round matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.
And Ferriero's goal just happened to be the game-winner in overtime.
That was special. It was a lucky bounce but they all count the same, he said.
Perhaps the most important thing that Ferriero gained from his NHL time on the West Coast was sharing the ice with veteran superstars such as Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Rob Blake. That experience taught Ferriero what it takes to make it in the NHL -- qualities that he carries with him today.
I just tried to pick up every little thing they do -- how they work, how they play and how they think the game, Ferriero said. There's a reason why they're the best in the league and a reason why they got to that point.
Now, fresh into his fourth season as a pro, Ferriero finds himself with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, sharing a locker room with a few more special teammates.
Before he turned pro, the Boston-native spent four years playing with Boston College. Fellow Penguins Carl Sneep and Brian Gibbons were teammates of Ferriero's, while Paul Thompson (New Hampshire), Jeff Zatkoff (Miami, Ohio), Brad Thiessen (Northeastern) and Brian Strait (Boston University) were familiar opponents.
Having all those former teammates and opponents in the same room made Ferriero's transition into a new organization an easy one.
It's a good environment to have people that you know from other places in the hockey world, Ferriero said.
During his last three seasons with Worcester in the AHL, Ferriero developed into an offensive threat. He registered 44 goals and 103 points in 131 games while not neglecting his gritty style.
That's a combination that Gibbons remembers from Ferriero during their days at Boston College, and it's something that makes him a dangerous offensive player.
At BC, he played the point on the power play, had a lot of skill and went to the dirty areas, Gibbons said. He's still the same today.
But Gibbons remembers something else about Ferriero from their college days. It's something Ferriero himself experienced from the likes of Thornton and company when he first arrived in the NHL.
I was a freshman at BC and he was a junior, but I already knew Benn a little bit from growing up in the same area, Gibbons said. He was good to me when I was younger and he and the older guys showed us the ropes. When I became an older guy at BC, I wanted to do that for the younger players. What (Ferriero) did for me carried down.
Leadership at the pro level appears to be the next quality that Ferriero is adding to his hockey resume. It's also another quality that began to develop from all those cross-county plane flights over the last three seasons when Ferriero didn't know what team he would be on from one week to the next.
I'm a person who's going to come in and do the same thing on a daily basis, and I've had a little bit of success doing it that way, Ferriero said. When you do the right things on a consistent basis and treat people the way you want to be treated, they respect you for that. It goes back to when I first walked into the San Jose locker room and saw all those NHL superstars. They still took me under their wing and made me feel like a part of the team while I was there.
And all those plane trips, looking back on it now, I wouldn't change it for anything.