VOORHEES, N.J. – Photographers and cameramen from various newspapers and television stations were positioned along the glass at Skate Zone Friday getting images or footage of a 20-man scrimmage the Flyers players were participating in in the final informal on-ice workout before training camp opens Sunday.
A lot of the faces and numbers were familiar. But there was one guy on the ice that nobody recognized.
“Who is No. 15,” they would ask.
The answer is Tye McGinn. And even after they were told, they, still furrowed their brow, cocked their heads to the side and said, “Who?”
Unless you are a hardcore fan, it’s easy to understand their reaction. After all McGinn didn’t necessarily have a huge following.
McGinn, 22, was a fifth round draft pick by the Flyers (149th overall) in the 2010 NHL entry draft.
He played four years of junior hockey, one with Ottawa of the OHL and three with Gatineau of the QMJHL before playing his first pro season with the Adirondack Phantoms in 2011-12.
He had a decent first season in the pro ranks, netting 12 goals in 63 games with the Phantoms, but really showed signs of breaking out this season.
During the work stoppage, McGinn, posted nine goals in 30 games with the Phantoms, and developed nicely into a specialist on the power play where he was likely responsible for even more of his team’s goals because he does a fine job of screening the goalie.
And it’s not like he’s going to get pushed around at the next level as McGinn has good size at 6-2, 200 pounds and is strong on his skates.
Nevertheless, he’s not a household name, even if his big brother Jamie McGinn of the Colorado Avalanche is a little more known, entering his sixth NHL season.
But that’s O.K. as far as McGinn is concerned. He doesn’t need to do anything different than he has all along to try and stand out and get the attention of the coaches.
The fact that this is a shortened training camp means he’s going to have a very real opportunity to make the team.
There are only 15 skaters in camp (not counting Danny Briere, who likely won’t be ready to play until the end of the month with his wrist injury) and the Flyers will probably carry 14 of them on their opening night roster.
That means McGinn has a great chance to fulfill his lifelong dream.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” McGinn said. “Just to get the call for training camp is exciting and I’m looking forward to it. When I was in Adirondack I was just trying to go out every day and play hard, play my style and hopefully get the call and that’s what happened. I’m just looking forward to it.”
And McGinn doesn’t feel he needs to do anything different as far as his approach to playing the game, he just has to play his style with more focus and intensity.
“There are all NHL guys out there so I have to improve my game even more,” he said. I” have to work even harder. I have to focus on every drill and take any hint that a player might give me or a coach might give me and try to bring that into my overall game.
“[Most importantly] you have to just play your own game. That’s all I’m looking to do. Everyone plays a different style of game and that’s what makes a team. I’m just going to try to do what I do and hopefully that works out.”
And it might work out for McGinn, at least for the first few games. When you look at the Flyers lineup, nine forward spots are secure (Briere would be the tenth) which means that this week at camp, six players will be fighting for three starting spots and probably two reserve spots.
When you consider that the other five players joining McGinn in that group play different roles than he does (Zac Rinaldo, Scott Laughton, Tom Sestito, Jody Shelley and Eric Wellwood) McGinn might have a bit of an inside track as a power forward.
“I really like to play that style,” he said. “Be a big body out there, be gritty and physical in front of the net. That’s the way it’s worked out so far. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to be a great power forward in the AHL and hopefully in the NHL one day. You just have to go out there every day, practice hard, work on your skills and hopefully that continues.”
And it might be a bit more comfortable for McGinn than for most AHL call-ups as he has four guys who came with him from the Phantoms who he has been playing with this season in Rinaldo, Wellwood, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.
“Having those guys with us in Adirondack, you can develop friendships with them both on and off the ice and that carries over to up here where you’re not just the only one trying to feel your way around the arena,” McGinn said. “It’s great to have them around.”
And if McGinn keeps doing what he’s been doing, he’s got a real good shot of being around them for more than an abbreviated training camp.
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