Gladiators re-sign stalwart defenseman Spivak

Defenseman Daniel Spivak has re-signed with the Gwinnett Gladiators after leading the team in plus/minus last season and anchoring the blueline corps. (Photo: Amanda Hertel)

Defenseman Daniel Spivak has re-signed with the Gwinnett Gladiators after leading the team in plus/minus last season and anchoring the blueline corps. (Photo: Amanda Hertel)

Reached on Monday evening, Daniel Spivak was learning how to patch drywall on the fly.

That was more than 12 hours after his day started with a dawn workout.

Spivak is spending his offseason opening up a new business in his hometown just outside Toronto. Although, offseason is an unfair word.

“The offseason is a thing of the past,” the Gwinnett Gladiators defenseman said with a chuckle. “I get up at 5:30 to go to the gym and then go to work at 9. I usually finish at 10 at night. There are no weekends, either.”

If Spivak wanted it easy, he wouldn’t have decided to turn his web-based juicing business into a storefront enterprise. The undertaking nearly had him hanging up his skates. He thinks he can do both and so he re-signed with the Gladiators. But if push comes to shove and he were needed back in Thornhill, Ontario, Spivak would go.

“I still think about it,” Spivak said of retirement. “It’s not 100 percent. The season is still two months away. I’m hoping we get the right people in place to keep the business going (when I leave). The goal is to keep playing.”

And if he’s going to play, Spivak only wanted to play for Gwinnett.

“I loved it there,” said the 25-year-old, who was the Gladiators’ most reliable defenseman last season. “Unfortunately last year, we didn’t figure things out until too late, but I’m now at the point, I’m coming to play, I’m coming to win.

“I don’t have any time to waste. I’m not coming to hang out. I’m coming to do a job. I have a goal to win a championship.”

Gwinnett struggled mightily for the first half of the season, but had a strong finish which coincided, not surprisingly, with the arrival of goaltender Mark Guggenburger.

“He’s quite a character,” Spivak said of Guggenburger. “He makes your job as a defenseman a lot easier. It’s a trust factor. You can be more confident jumping up in the offense. I’m happy he’s coming back.”

Guggenburger was the first signing the team announced this summer. Adding Spivak, who led the team in plus/minus last season, is another key piece of the puzzle.

“He brings stability, consistency and intelligence to our defensive unit,” Gwinnett team president Steve Chapman said. “He’s also got some pretty cool business plans that he is kicking off for life after hockey and we weren’t sure if we were going to get him back on the ice.

“But he told us that he still had the fire and that Gwinnett was the only place that he wanted to play. We’re glad to have him back.”

Spivak finished with a minus in only 15 of his 65 games played in 2013-14 and never went below a minus-1. The former Rochester Institute of Technology captain also had one goal, nine assists and 46 penalty minutes.

A dual citizen, Spivak missed the last two games of the regular season to play for his native Israel in the IIHF World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. Spivak, an alternate captain for Israel, was playing for his home country for the 10th straight summer.

The team was relegated, but Spivak played well and enjoyed the experience.

“We don’t have the caliber of players other teams do,” he said. “So it’s a different kind of hockey than what I’m used to. I’m used to playing with a lot of good players where we each have one role.

“But I have fun and it’s a great learning experience.”

He returned to Canada afterward and began work on expanding the family’s business. Spivak, with his mom and two of his brothers, started RevitaSize last summer. The company, which cold presses 100 percent organic fresh fruits and vegetables every day, will soon have a store in Thornhill.

It’s been a long haul and they’re a month behind schedule. But the final inspection is set for this week and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m learning,” Spivak said. “It’s like hockey — you need the right team to fit around you. I feel like a GM, player and coach. It’s hard.

“I’m taking a risk coming, but I know I want to play. And I wouldn’t play anywhere else.”