Crash The Crease: Capital Region Hockey: Where Are They Now?
As we embark upon the 2009-10 hockey season I thought it would be interesting to see where players who have come through this area are still playing as of this year. Throughout the season I will undoubtedly try with due diligence to update the happenings of players who were either born in this area or player their collegiate or professional hockey in the region. With the Albany River Rats and now Adirondack Phantoms around, there should be a whole lot more making their way to the National Hockey League.
Nicklas Bergfors (New Jersey Devils): Bergfors has finally cracked the New Jersey roster after getting a cup of coffee last season scoring one goal in eight games. Bergfors played 65 games for the Albany River Rats during the 2005-06 campaign totaling 17 goals that year.
Johnny Boychuk (Boston Bruins): Boychuk is another guy who has paid his dues in the minors scoring 20 goals on the blue line for the baby B's in Providence last season, good enough to win him the Eddie Shore award for best AHL defenseman. Johnny played in all 80 games for the Albany River Rats in 2006-07 as an Avalanche prospect, where he netted ten goals that year and racked up a career high 125 penalty minutes. Boychuk got up to Boston for one game last year, hopefully there will be many more to come this season and beyond.
Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh Penguins): No Bylsma doesn't play defense anymore but the former 1993-94 Albany River Rat coached the Pens to a Stanley Cup title last season.
David Clarkson (New Jersey Devils): One of the few bright spots in the dark days of the Rats under New Jersey's stewardship. Clarkson a true blue collar hard nosed hockey player, skated for the Albany River Rats in 2005-06 scoring 13 goals adding 21 helpers and piling up a career high 233 penalty minutes. Clarkson now in his fourth season with the Devils, after scoring a career high 17 goals last year will be asked to take on a much larger role this season with the departures of Brian Gionta and John Madden.
Scott Clemmensen (Florida Panthers): Clemmer who saved the Devils bacon last year filling in for Marty Brodeur, essentially resurrected his career posting 25 wins and an impressive 2.39 goals against average. Those numbers obviously impressed the Florida Panthers enough to sign the former River Rat. Clemmensen played parts of five season's in Albany from 2001-2006 where he won 35 games and picked up three shutouts. Clemmer has 33 wins in the NHL between New Jersey and Toronto.
Mike Commodore (Columbus Blue Jackets): Commodore was a solid fixture on the Jackets blue line in what would turn out to be the franchise's first playoff appearance. Commodore played 81 games and totaled 18 PIM in four playoff games last season. From 2000-2002 Commodore played parts of two seasons for the Rats, compiling 90 PIM. Commodore won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06.
Tim Conboy (Carolina Hurricanes): After a scrap in Raleigh they play "we've got a great big Conboy." Tim Conboy was an enforcer in his time down in Albany from 2006-2009 racking up 481 PIM. On a team not known for its sizable players, Conboy has changed the complexion of the Hurricanes with 97 career PIM in 47 NHL games.
Kyle Cumiskey (Colorado Avalanche): Now a regular defenseman on a young Avs team, Cumiskey played in Albany during the 2006-07 season, scoring 33 points with 32 PIM.
Patrick Elias (New Jersey Devils): Elias one of the bigger stars to play in Albany had a rebound season last year with the Devils scoring 31 goals. From 1995-1998 Elias amassed 54 goals, 79 assists and 161 PIM. Elias has been a part of two Stanley Cup titles with 40 playoff goals and is just five shy of 300 in his career.
Jeff Finger (Toronto Maple Leafs): Finger has shown to be a steady defenseman in his three seasons with the Avalanche and Maple Leafs. Finger played for Albany in 2006-07 with 13 points and 65 PIM in 44 games.
Brian Gionta (Montreal Canadiens): It sure is strange seeing the Rochester Rocket in a Canadiens uniform. Gio has one Cup (2002-03) and one 48 goal season in the NHL. During his time in Albany Gionta scored 14 goals in 52 games.
Ben Guite (Nashville Predators): Guite has been a useful role player in parts of the last three seasons in Colorado. In his short stint in Albany, Guite netted ten goals in 36 games during the 2006-07 campaign.
Cam Janssen (St. Louis Blues): Janssen has developed a reputation as an absolute beast of a fighter in the NHL. Just do a Youtube search of Janssen taking on Ryan Hollweg a few years back during an exhibition game or any other video and you'll see what I mean. In 96 games with Albany from 2004-06 Janssen piled up 454 PIM including one season of 337. Between his time with the Devils and Blues, Janssen has over 354 PIM in the NHL.
Andrew Ladd (Chicago Blackhawks): Granted Ladd only spent two games scoring one goal in Albany during the 2007-08 season. But Ladd already has a Stanley Cup from his Carolina days and set a career high for goals with 15 last season in Chicago.
Mike Leighton (Carolina Hurricanes): Some of you casual observers may have heard of a little five OT game a couple of years back between the Albany River Rats and Philadelphia Phantoms. You also may have heard about Mr. Leighton's exploits, where he notched an astounding 98 saves! Leighton followed that up with a road shutout in Philly in game six of that series. Leighton's legendary 2007-08 season in Albany saw Leighton win 28 games with a 2.10 GAA, 1,634 saves and seven shutouts. Leighton is currently backing up Cam Ward in Carolina.
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (New Jersey Devils): LucLeblond played parts of the 2005-06 season with the old Adirondack Frostbite of the UHL and Albany River Rats in the AHL. Between the two stops he developed a reputation as a bad boy with 295 PIM. Now he'll take his act back to New Jersey.
John Madden (Chicago Blackhawks): Much like Brian Gionta it is strange to see Mad Dog in another jersey. Madden was originally signed as a free agent out of Michigan because the Devils were scouting Brendan Morrison. The former Selke Trophy winner was quite the scorer in Albany. From 1997-99 Madden picked up 58 goals, 96 assists, good enough for 154 points in 149 games. One season in Albany Madden netted 38 goals and 98 points. On the Rats last playoff team to advance in 1997-98, Madden ended up with 16 points in 13 games. Madden has two Cups and will look to put the Blackhawks over the top this year.
Cody McLeod (Colorado Avalanche): Cody skated in 73 games for the Rats during the 2006-07 season netting eleven goals while racking up 180 PIM. McLeod set career highs for goals (15) and PIM (162) for the Avs last year.
Willie Mitchell (Vancouver Canucks): Willie is one of the toughest customers in the NHL on the blue line. Mitchell suited up for Albany from 1998-2001 where he garnered 194 PIM. In 12 NHL seasons Mitchell has 108 points and 573 PIM.
Jay Pandolfo (New Jersey Devils): The BU product, Pandolfo is now in season number 13 with New Jersey. Pandolfo has remained a gritty role player for the Devils and a part of two Stanley Cup championships. Pandolfo is five goals away from 100 on his NHL career. Jay played 68 games in Albany from 1995-98 with one 18 goal season.
Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils): Fans in Albany were not disappointed during the lockout season of 2004-05 when Parise shined, scoring 18 goals with 40 assists in 73 games. Parise continues his evolution as an elite NHLer, posting three straight 30 plus goal campaigns. Last season Parise set career highs in goals with 45 assists with 49 and points with 94.
Ilkka Pikkarainen (New Jerey Devils): Pikkarainen is back in the states after three years in Finland and has finally cracked the Devils lineup. From 2003-06 Ilkka 29 goals and 305 PIM in Albany.
Joel Rechlicz (New York Islanders): Rechlicz the Isles enforcer picked up 106 PIM in 25 games for the River Rats in 2007-08.
Brad Richardson (Los Angeles Kings): Richardson played three games for the Rats in 2006-07.
Brian Rolston (New Jersey Devils): Another one of the most successful Albany River Rats. Rolston an original has a Stanley Cup to his name. Additionally Rolston has four 30 goal seasons and 301 tallies in his NHL career. Rolston had 30 points in 35 games for Albany from 1993-95.
Michael Rupp (Pittsburgh Penguins): Rupp is best known for being a grinder who scored the Stanley Cup game seven game winner in 2003 for the Devils against the Ducks. Rupp joins the defending champion Penguins this season and was one of the few who really hustled during the dark days in Albany from 2000-03.
Michael Ryan (Carolina Hurricanes): Ryan was the lone AHL All-Star for the Rats last season and totaled 25 goals in 40 games.
Sheldon Souray (Edmonton Oilers): Souray is one of the best scoring defenseman in the NHL. Including that hard shot from the point, Souray has been known to mix it up as well. Sheldon scored 23 goals last year for the Oilers. Souray who played in Albany from 1994-98 is only eight away from 100 career goals and 45 penalty minutes away from 1,000.
Chris Stewart (Colorado Avalanche): Stewart played five games for the Rats in 2006-07 and scored a career high eleven goals for the Avs last season.
Steve Sullivan (Nashville Predators): Sully, one of the most popular and successful Rats was a huge part of their Calder Cup run in 1994-95. Sullivan twice had 30 goal seasons in Albany and has as many in the NHL. After missing half of last season to back surgery hopefully Sullivan will be back to the form that has enabled him to score 239 goals on his career.
Petr Sykora (Minnesota Wild): Sykora had 55 points in 50 games in Albany from 1995-98, including one 20 goal season. Sykora will be playing his first season in Minnesota after playing for the Cup champion Pens last year. Sykora also won a Cup with the Devils. Sykora has registered 300 goals and 32 playoff goals in 15 NHL seasons.
Aaron Voros (New York Rangers): Voros is an enforcer of sorts with the Blueshirts racking up 122 PIM last year. In 153 games from 2003-06 in Albany, Voros scored 29 goals and compiled 414 penalty minutes. Voros has 263 PIM in his NHL career.
Colin White (New Jersey Devils): Whitey, the modern day Ken Daneyko is now in his tenth NHL season with the Devils. Colin has over 754 penalty minutes in the regular season and 117 in the playoffs. White has two Cups to his name as well. From 1997-00 White amassed over 676 penalty minutes with the Rats.
Travis Zajac (New Jersey Devils): Zajac only played in two games for Albany in 2005-06 but has blossomed with the Devils playing in 244 out of a possible 246 games the last three years. Last year was Zajac's first 20 goal campaign.
Mathieu Dandenault (San Jose Sharks): Dandenault played four games for the Adirondack Red Wings in 1995-96. Dandenault, a role player was a part of three Cup winners in Detroit. Dandenault and his 203 career points will suit up for the Sharks this season.
Kris Draper (Detroit Red Wings): Draper who was sold from the Winnipeg Jets to the Detroit Red Wings for a dollar, has had a solid NHL career. Back in 1993-94 Draper scored 20 goals and had 23 assists in 46 games with the A-Wings. Draper has over 331 points with Detroit and over 750 PIM to go with his four Stanley Cup rings, Detroit has gotten its bang for its buck with Kris.
Shane Hnidy (Minnesota Wild): One of the last Adirondack Red Wings from their final season in Glens Falls. Hnidy has been a serviceable NHL grinder with over 565 PIM. In Adirondack during the 1998-99 season Hnidy had 121 PIM in 68 games.
Tomas Holmstrom (Detroit Red Wings): Holmstrom didn't play very long in Glens Falls, scoring three goals in just six games during the 1996-97 campaign. But he has been one of the most successful and is just eleven goals away from 200 on his career. Holmstrom, like Draper has also been a part of four Cup winners in Detroit, scoring 38 playoff goals.
Mike Knuble (Washington Capitals): Knuble was part of a pair of Cup winners in Detroit and brings that experience to Washington. Knuble has twice captured 30 goal seasons and has six 20 plus goal seasons to boot. Knuble has scored over 215 goals in his career and played with Adirondack from 1994-97. In his time with the A-Wings, Knuble notched two 20 plus goal seasons with 50 overall and 108 points in 148 games.
Vyacheslav Kozlov (Atlanta Thrashers): Kozlov has had an impressive NHL career. Kozlov has 348 goals and two Stanley Cups to his name along with 42 playoff goals. Kozlov a two time 30 goal scorer and eleven time 20 goal scorer was a member of the Adirondack Red Wings from 1992-94. In that time Kozlov scored 23 goals in 48 games.
Pavel Kubina (Atlanta Thrashers): Kubina played for Adirondack in 1997-98 where he totaled 86 PIM in 55 games. The steady scoring defenseman has 97 goals and 921 PIM in the NHL.
Daymond Langkow (Calgary Flames): Langkow played only two games for Adirondack in 1996-97 and has scored over 245 goals in his NHL career.
Chris Osgood (Detroit Red Wings): Perhaps one of the more underrated goalies of his era, overshadowed by Detroit's annual firepower. Osgood has been a part of three Stanley Cups in Detroit and is just eleven wins shy of 300 with a career GAA of 2.47. Osgood has six seasons of 30 plus wins and one of those came with the New York Islanders where he picked up 32 which should tell you something. Osgood starred for Adirondack from 1992-95 winning 23 games during that span.
Aaron Ward (Carolina Hurricanes): Ward has had a steady NHL career as a defenseman, just five shy from 100 assists, Ward also has 674 PIM. Ward who has three Cups, played with Adirondack from 1993-96 compiling 66 points, 307 PIM in 208 games.
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