Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Monday morning was the start of the Hershey Bears’ 2019-20 training camp at Giant Center. Forward Casey Bailey spoke to the media about his time at Penn State, the KHL, and his future in Chocolatetown.
The 27-year-old Anchorage, Alaska, native was a former player for the Penn State men’s hockey team, from 2012-2015. Bailey said it was “awesome to be in the area” after already having a significant connection in Pennsylvania.
Bailey had the chance to go back to the collegiate facility and meet with coaches. He has many memories, seeing fans wearing Penn State sweaters to show support of him and the team. “It’s nice being close to my second home,” He added.
When asked if it felt inviting to join the Bears, Bailey answered that he is “excited for the opportunity”. Hershey is a place for young players to develop their skills. The team signed Bailey on July 30 to a Professional Tryout (PTO) Agreement.
He is the only Penn State player to have made an appearance in the NHL. Bailey signed a two-year contract with Toronto in March 2015. During his time with the Maple Leafs, he scored his first NHL goal on April 11, 2015, against the Montreal Canadiens. Bailey played for the Ottawa Senators in the 2016-17 season before heading south to play for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the New York Islanders’ AHL affiliate.
Bailey had a “unique experience” in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) playing for HC Slovan. He was grateful to have the opportunities of visiting other cities and countries. Playing in the KHL is a bit different than playing in the NHL, but Bailey commented that he learned a lot and it ultimately helped him with skating because of the fast pace environment. Consistency and confidence are two areas Bailey feels are holding him back, but he is continuing to “learn those little things”. He wants to build and grow on a professional level.
Bailey was asked why he wanted to return from the European league as most players tend to stay over there. “I wanted to come back here and find my game again,” He replied. Bailey called the opportunity a “no-brainer” in reference to joining the Bears.
Despite being cut from the Capitals’ roster on September 19, Bailey will be a major asset to the Hershey Bears this fall. He has learned much over the years as a rookie and even as a pro. Bailey said, “It’s putting the work boots on, it’s doing your job, it’s having fun, and it’s bringing energy.”
The Bears’ first preseason game will on the road as they clash with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday before their preseason home-opener on Saturday, September 28 against the Penguins.
By Della Young