Wait your turn and seize the moment. That’s the life of an NHL call-up.
I was never a professional athlete. Most people never get that chance in life. There is a really small group of people who understand what it’s like to get that coveted, “You’re going to the NHL” call. From what I’ve gathered over the years, it’s about 1,000 times more exciting than when you open a college acceptance letter. But then what? How do you settle in after you know you’re going to the dance?
For Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield, this isn’t their first time getting called up. However, they only have 11 NHL games under their skates combined so any chance to play for the Islanders is huge.
With Johnny Boychuk nursing an upper body injury and Travis Hamonic also out of the lineup on Saturday, the two rookies played together as a defensive pair against the Flyers. It was a loss the Isles would like to forget about completely, but after the game I had a great chat with Adam and Scott.
Here are some of the highlights:
Me: Adam, you were called up a few games ago, and now Scott is here. Were you happy to see a familiar face from Bridgeport?
Adam: Having a guy like Scott with me, especially being paired with him, makes things a lot more comfortable. I’m definitely glad that he’s here and it’s nice having a guy that you have played with for a year or two here in the locker room with you.
Me: What is the biggest difference in the NHL off the ice?
Scott: I think life in the NHL is a lot easier than the AHL. In the AHL, you sometimes play back-to-back and even three games in a row, we call them 3 in 3. By the way, you are also bussing everywhere.
Me: How about on the ice?
Adam: You’re surrounded by such good players and that makes everything a lot easier. You know you’re playing against world-class players but at the same time, you have world-class players on your team. So when you get the puck, there is always someone open yelling for it. I think with how smart and skilled these guys are, it makes it a lot easier for us.
Me: As rookies, there are some unwritten rules you live by in the NHL. I always see the young guys sitting in the front of the bus and eating last. What do you have to do to blend in?
Scott: We have been in different leagues. Going from experience, you learn from your first year in college or first year in juniors. You learn the biggest thing is showing everyone respect. They have been here and done this for multiple years. I mean, look at (Jaromir) Jagr. He’s 43 and played his first game before I was born. It’s showing guys respect. Whether that’s letting them go eat first or letting them go up to their room first. There are a bunch of little things that you want to make sure you’re cognitive of. It’s really important.
Me: What is something I don’t know about Scott?
Adam: His nickname has been ‘Kitty.’
Me: Like a cat?
Adam: I think someone thought his body was similar to a cat’s.
(A smiling and laughing Scott jumps in)
Scott: Justin Johnson said I played like a kitten. We were roommates and he said I played like that. He said I looked scared out there always, but I don’t agree with that.
Me: What’s something about Adam we don’t know?
Scott: He plays a game called Clash of Clans. It’s one of those phone games that you pay for stuff within the game.
Adam (Blushing): You have to put a lot of time in to be good. I’m on it pretty often, but I haven’t spent any money just a lot of time.
It’s not easy being the call-up in the dressing room. You never know how long your NHL stint will be and you’re trying to prove you can play without overdoing it. Thanks to Adam and Scott for taking the time to chat with me, especially after a loss.
Also, for the record, I had no idea what Clash of Clans was. But if I was on a bus for hours like the AHL guys, I would for sure be called out for my obsession with the New York Times Real Estate and Trulia apps.