BROOKLYN, NY - On Friday afternoon, Devils forward Brett Seney received the phone call he had been waiting for since he was a little kid. He has been called up to the NHL and will make his league debut less than 24 hours later.
"It's surreal," Seney said. "It's something I've been looking forward to my whole life. Obviously excited but also trying to stay calm and focus on playing my game."
Seney was one of the Devils final cuts during training camp in September, but he certainly left a mark on the coaching staff.
"He was a difficult cut for us [in September]," coach John Hynes said. "He's quick, tenacious and for a smaller guy, he's competitive level is real, real high. He's got second and third efforts. When you watched him in training camp and in Binghamton, he's always in and around the puck."
The 22-year-old from London, Ontario, won't be alone in experiencing his NHL debut. His parents, Angela and Peter, will be in attendance. They were already planning a trip south of the Canadian border to visit their son in Binghamton, but when Brett called them, it changed their plans.
"It worked out great, they were coming up for the weekend anyways to watch me in Binghamton," Seney said. "I had to give them a phone call and told them to reroute the GPS. They're very excited and I'm very proud as a son for them to be able to watch it."
Along with Seney, forward Kurtis Gabriel was recalled from Binghamton Friday. Gabriel remembers the moment he was cut from training camp well and vowed that he would be back. This is his opportunity now, he says.
"Obviously, I was really upset [being cut from training camp]," Gabriel said. "I thought I had a good camp and they told me I had a good camp. They said keep doing the same things and if we need you you'll be back. It seems like the time for me to be up here and help the team in the way that I can."
"I'm here to play my game and not here to be who people might think I am," Gabriel added. "I'm here to play hockey. We're not winning enough battles right now, so I've got to try and play that game and contribute that way to give the team a boost. I'm a spark-plug type player, I bring a lot of energy so hopefully I can do that here."
Coach John Hynes is no stranger to having high expectations and that will be no different for Seney and Gabriel as they make their NHL and season debuts against the Islanders. Hynes urges any and all players in the lineup to go out and make a difference and "steal someone's job."
"As we told the players in training camp, sometimes it's not the guys who make it at training camp, it's the guys that continue to play the way we want to play," Hynes said. "We're looking for Gabriel and Seney to come in, be tenacious on the puck, bring speed and strong compete."
Goaltender Keith Kinkaid returns to backstop the Devils. Kinkaid is 3-3-2 in nine games against the Islanders in his career.