Hockey is a game of chances and opportunities. One where a player can be in the NHL one year and the ECHL another. Cracking a line-up can be a difficult prospect, especially in a system full of talent like Washington’s. That’s why making the most of chances is essential.
Guys like Michael Latta and Tom Wilson cut their teeth in Hershey, but their size and skill alone landed them spots on the Caps’ roster pretty quickly. Stan Galiev is another story. He doesn’t have the size, but on a brief conditioning stint in Hershey earlier this year, it was obvious he has the skill set for the NHL.
While Galiev remains on Washington’s roster, waiting for an opportunity, other guys like Chris Brown, are returned to the AHL to get ice time.
Many Hershey fans believe that Brown, along with Justin Peters, might not have been too happy to be reassigned to Hershey, but Brown recently shared a different perspective about his reassignment.
“It’s nice to just play some games. That’s kind of why Washington sent me down here to get some more games and get a feel for the puck,” he said after a 5-3 loss to Binghamton.
To see Brown play of late is to understand that he is in the right frame of mind. In just ten games for the Bears, the right-winger has scored three goals and notched two assists since his reassignment in mid-November.
While Brown seems to be making the most of his ice time in Hershey, Mark Dekanich, who was called up from South Carolina following an injury to Peters certainly wanted to make the most of his time in Hershey.
Dekanich recently shared his perspective of the recall. “That’s our job to be ready when duty calls,” he said. “You know it’s nice to be here.”
Dekanich, who allowed four goals on 22 shots against Binghamton December 27 was very critical of his game and just hoped for another shot before returning to the ECHL affiliate, South Carolina.
“I just need to be better. The game was a little bit faster than what I’m used to this season anyways,” Dekanich said. “Like I said I just have to be better and hopefully get another shot.”
While Dekanich didn’t get that next opportunity with the Bears this month, Brown or one of his Hershey teammates, particularly Aaron Ness, who was recalled Thursday morning, may get an opportunity in Washington as the Capitals sustained a number of injuries in their December 30th win over Buffalo.
If indeed there is a recall, Hershey head coach Troy Mann will likely provide the player with a gentle reminder of what is means to play in Hershey.
“It’s part of our DNA that these guys need to know what it’s like to be a Hershey Bear, to put the jersey on, what it is to see those 11 banners,” commented Mann. “I know they all want to be in the NHL. As coaches we all want to be in the NHL, but they need to know when you play for the Hershey Bears and you put the jersey on, it’s special.”
By Julie Beidler