Upon learning of his trade to the Blue Jackets, Jerry D’Amigo picked up the phone and called the only guy he knew in Columbus – his good friend Matt Frattin.
“Looks like you’ve got another buddy in Columbus,” D’Amigo told him.
“Maybe not,” Frattin said. “I think we’re both in the same trade.”
And so began a new chapter for D’Amigo, a 23-year-old energetic forward from Binghamton, N.Y. who was hoping to get more opportunity in Toronto, a place he really enjoyed and was, initially, saddened to leave.
He spent four years in the Maple Leafs organization and the better part of three of them with the Marlies, their AHL affiliate that plays just down the road from Air Canada Centre. D’Amigo appeared in 22 games with the Maple Leafs in 2013-14 – mostly in a fourth-line role with limited minutes – but he kept pushing and working for more.
His first conversation with the Blue Jackets left him a strong belief that he landed in the right place.
“When I got the call from the GM, it was a reassurance from him that there’s a spot for me and if I work hard this summer, I’ll have a really good chance,” D’Amigo told BlueJackets.com. “It’s one of those things where you’re sad to leave but also excited to join a new organization. Not that I did anything bad in Toronto, but it’s almost like a fresh start for me.
“It was a simple, short conversation. They told me they need a left winger, and with the young guys they already have and adding me, they’re looking for someone to fill that spot. If I can fill it, that would be awesome. I’m going to come in there as prepared as I can be, and work my hardest to get that open spot. That’s my goal for this summer – to work toward making the team out of camp.”
D’Amigo is armed with plenty of experience, a product of the United States National Team Development Program and a two-time representative of the U.S. at the World Junior Hockey Championship. He won gold in 2010 (remember John Carlson’s OT winner in Saskatoon?) and scored the go-ahead goal in the second period before Canada rallied to tie late in regulation.
He spent a year at RPI, another season with the Kitchener Rangers and settled in with the Marlies a few years ago. D'Amigo has been part of a few Calder Cup playoff runs with the Marlies, and he carved a niche as a bottom-six, checking winger in Toronto but feels he has a lot more to offer in addition to a reliable two-way game.
“(The experience) definitely helps to show you the grind and what it takes to go far and win championships,” D’Amigo said. “Having that under my belt as a young player is something that’ll help; at my age, some players have it and some don’t and it’s good to have it in my corner and I want to use it to my advantage.
“I feel like I’ve really developed into a specialty type of player and that’s something I take a lot of pride in. I also have some offensive ability and I can make plays…I’ll bring a mix of playing hard defensively and a little offense and I want to contribute to the Blue Jackets as much as I can.”