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Bingo Bites: Kevin Rooney, GM Speaks & Notes From Training Camp

Activities begin to ramp up with the start of training camp as the season is right around the corner for the Binghamton Devils

Photo credit Jeff Ulmer

Welcome back BDevils’ fans! Hockey is finally here once again so let’s get started.

I bring you the latest on Kevin Rooney and if he sticks with New Jersey through a poll on Twitter. Then a word or two from Binghamton Devils’ GM Tom Fitzgerald concerning his role in developing depth players for the organization. I follow this up by the sights (and sounds) of the BDevils’ training camp held on Tuesday in this the first edition of the 2019-’20 Bites.

Kevin Rooney Status?

I begin with the elephant in the room regarding the status of Kevin Rooney as a result of several preseason games for the NJ Devils. It appeared his lack of performance has caused an uproar in the community, so I addressed the subject recently through a poll on Twitter;

The part I left out on purpose is Rooney’s contract which has a 1-way deal for the second half of his two-year contract that automatically kicks in. I found a lot of fans were not aware of this stipulation, and furthermore didn’t care as a result of his recent poor play. If Rooney is indeed sent to Binghamton as the poll suggests, he would need to clear waivers first, which may or may not be an issue.

Quite frankly, he has nothing left to prove at the AHL level. Possibly my vote would have been a trade if push comes to shove, but keep in mind Rooney is a helluva PK specialist.

Tom Fitzgerald Talks Development

I have two pieces on BDevils’ GM Tom Fitzgerald to share as he is about to enter his third season in that role for the Binghamton Devils and fifth overall at the AHL level (Albany Devils 2015-’17). In this recent interview with the Binghamton Devils on Sept 19th he addressed the act of competition between players looking for a spot in the line-up.

“Like I’ve always said—and I’m going to be consistent—if they’re not playing in Binghamton, they’re not sitting in Binghamton. They are going to play in Adirondack and we’re going to grow them down there, so when they come up they are ready and can contribute. That is what our organization is striving to do and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Refreshing is the word that immediately comes to mind. What a concept in utilizing the available tools to not only strengthen but could potentially benefit the player as well. I wish more GM’s would follow this concept as it has already paid dividends with defenseman Colton White from the early stages of last season. I also believe the thought process is quite similar for Thunder fans in keeping pace with the Devils’ franchise as a whole.

In an earlier article over the summer, Fitzgerald is interviewed by Abbey Mastracco of the NorthJersey.com in which he demonstrates a no-nonsense approach when developing talent. In it, he explains on what it takes to be a journeyman type of over 1200 games in 17 seasons, including 165 at the AHL level.

“I can sit there and tell him my story,” Fitzgerald said. “I played 165 AHL games and I played 1,100 NHL games. So you can (complain) and moan all you want at 21 or you can just be a pro, do your job, earn a spot or earn a call-up. That’s it. Or you can bellyache. I tell guys, there’s another, guys. There’s another league. So get it together or go to another league. I don’t care.”

Fitzgerald then explains his vision for success in Binghamton.

“Binghamton is always going to be young but with youth comes energy,” he said. “So I’ve got to do my job of surrounding them with veteran AHL talent that can help with the down days of February and guys who can get called up here so we’re not forcing a kid into the lineup here who is maybe not ready. So, it really, really tells you the future is bright.”

Hopefully it pays off this season for the BDevils.

BDevils’ Training Camp Opens

Binghamton’s first day of camp took place on Tuesday and here is the list of players that participated:

  • On Defense

Michael Paliotta, Kevin Lohan, Michael Sdao*, Colby Sissons, Colton White, Charles Curti*, Dakota Mermis, Kelly Summers* & Josh Jacobs

  • Forwards

Ben Street, Brett Seney, Ryan Walker*, Brandon Baddock, Joey Anderson, Egor Sharangovich, Blake Speers, Ara Nazarian, Fabian Zetterlund, Chris Conner, Mikhail Maltsev, Ludvig Larsson, Ryan Schmelzer, Marian Studenic, Brandon Gignac, James Henry*, Matt Salhany* & Nikita Popugaev

  • In Goal

Ben Halford**, Gilles Senn, Eamon McAdam & Evan Cormier

Photo credit Jeff Ulmer

There was a 40-minute practice with drills followed by a scrimmage that lasted for nearly another 40 minutes. After the scrimmage, players skated laps in an upbeat tempo like pace which is always good to see as past coaching staffs didn’t always preach endurance with prospects.

Adirondack Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Alex Loh was on the ice and behind the bench amongst six of his players from the Thunder, which is rare to see. I don’t ever recall anyone from a coaching staff of an ECHL affiliate partakes in training camp before, especially with a title like Loh’s. That’s not only impressive, but encouraging in moving forward with communication between the two affiliates within the Devils’ Organization.

Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Julian Melchiori, and Matt Tennyson are still in New Jersey as well as Mr. Rooney, for now.

Some random notes;

  • Mikhail Maltsev looked strong on his feet, extremely poised
  • Chris Connor is very quick as well as Ben Street, the two vets should be a force
  • Fabian Zetterlund took the ice and he appeared to have no ill effect on his shattered knee. Let’s see how the upcoming weekend pans out with his playing time
  • Gilles Senn is big in goal and gets down low fast, very agile
  • Brett Seney and Ben Street paired up with rotating wingers, Anderson-Connor-Maltsev, Zetterlund and Studenic also together
  • Odd seeing Defenseman Michael Sdao again since his days as a member of the BSens (2012-’15). He last played for Adirondack
  • Two players I didn’t notice was Colton White and Blake Speers, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t out there, just didn’t notice them

Here is second-year Head Coach Mark Dennehy mic’d up during Tuesday’s drills;

Binghamton has three preseason contests scheduled for the weekend that kicks off on Friday in Utica with a home-on-home series vs the Comets. After the BDevils play on Saturday in Binghamton with Utica, they conclude the preseason schedule hosting the Syracuse Crunch on Sunday.

* = Adirondack Thunder signings

** = Invitee