When looking at Noah Babin’s information on this year’s rookie camp roster, two things immediately catch your attention. One is the seven points he put up as a defenseman through his first 11 games as a professional in Albany.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
That's the birthplace of the 6’0”, 200 pound defenseman who the Hurricanes signed after his four-year college career at the University of Notre Dame last season. While some other players have birthplaces listed in unusual hockey locales, that doesn’t always reflect where they are really from (Craig Adams was born in Seria, Brunei, for example). Babin, however, is very much a Floridian who had to move north to chase his dream.
It’s a journey that has never been easy.
“We really didn’t know what we were doing or where we were going, because nobody had ever done it before,” said Babin. “What wound up happening was me and my mom packed up our truck and we drove up to Michigan, found a place to live and just kind of threw ourselves into it headlong. My dad stayed at home, worked and paid the bills.”
His family’s initial decision to take that chance turned more than a few heads back home.
“When we first moved away, everyone in Florida, even some of our friends and family, were like ‘What do you guys think you’re doing, you guys are idiots, you’re wasting all this money,’ but my parents knew that we had to try.”
Babin’s first big break came when he attended what he thought was an open skate for the Compuware team in Michigan, which is owned by Hurricanes’ owner Peter Karmanos. That open skate ended up being more of a tryout, and to Babin’s surprise, he made the team.
“The coaches came over and asked me to come talk to them, and I thought I had done something wrong or screwed up or something like that, so I was a little nervous,” he said. “But they pulled me and my dad aside and asked me if I’d want to play for the team.”
From there, Babin’s hockey career has rapidly progressed as he continues to make a name for himself at every level. From that junior team in Michigan, he was selected to the U.S. National Development Program. That turned into a scholarship at Notre Dame, which turned into his first professional contract with the Hurricanes.
“After every stop we [my family and I] expected the journey to end, but it hasn’t,” he said. “It’s just amazing for me, and I’m just really happy to be given a chance.”
After signing with the Hurricanes in March, Babin went straight to the Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Albany River Rats, only a few days later. A self-admitted nervous wreck before his pro debut, his strong start went way beyond his own expectations.
“I found out I was playing on a Sunday night, and I probably didn’t sleep that Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or before the game on Wednesday, so it was a little scary for sure,” he said. “In the AHL I thought I was going to get killed, but it worked out really well.”
After taking such an improbable route to get to where he is now, Babin knows better than to predict what the future might have in store for him. For now, he’s sweating it out at rookie camp with the rest of the Hurricanes’ young prospects and hopes the experience will better prepare him for his fist full season in Albany.
“I didn’t even know you could do this much without tearing your body down,” said Babin of his experience so far at camp. “I’m pretty excited to just get back to work and just hammer it and start working at it. It should be fun.”