Good things come to those who wait.
Just ask Chris Terry.
After grinding out 290 regular-season games in the AHL and 253 regular-season games in the OHL, Terry is set to make his NHL debut tonight for the Carolina Hurricanes, as they take on the New Jersey Devils.
“I’m just trying to take everything in. Being at the rink this morning was a pretty surreal feeling, hanging around the locker room,” he said. “A lot of guys are just giving me advice just to take it all in, enjoy it and have fun.”
When head coach Kirk Muller blew his whistle to organize the morning skate, stick taps and hoops and hollers welcomed Terry, 23, to the big club.
“It’s really exciting. Chris is a guy that everyone in the locker room loves. He’s a good kid. He works hard,” Riley Nash said. “It’s just really nice to see that finally happen for him, and I’m sure he’s pretty excited too.”
In the midst of his fourth full season in the AHL, it seemed only a matter of time before Terry got the call. He amassed 289 points (114g, 175a) in four years with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. Through 55 games with the Checkers this season, he leads all Charlotte skates with 22 goals and 46 points and is tied for the team lead in assists (24). In the 2011-12 season, Terry led Charlotte is scoring (59 points) and assists (43).
“The guy has produced everywhere he’s been – in junior and in Charlotte,” Muller said. “I thought he had a good commitment this summer about things he needed to work on conditioning-wise. He got off to a good start in Charlotte. He’s been scoring and producing. He deserves a shot.”
“It’s been a long wait, but it just takes time sometimes,” Terry said. “The staffs in Charlotte and here have been really up front with me and have told me what I need to do to get up here.”
As reported by GoCheckers.com, the Canes have recalled a forward on 59 separate occasions since Terry turned professional in 2009. Informed by Charlotte head coach Jeff Daniels after practice on Friday, Terry was tapped as the 60th forward recall.
“You’re always happy for your teammate who gets called up. You create a bond down there playing so much with them, but you want to be that guy,” he said. “So you’re going to find reasons why you’re not, improve those and continue to work to get up here.”
Terry joins a collection of familiar faces in the Hurricanes’ locker room, a number of which he played with just months ago.
“Right when I got here this morning, I was catching up with those guys,” Terry said. “It’s comforting. It’s nice to know they’re here.”
He’ll skate alongside a familiar face, too, in Nash, who reenters the lineup after missing Thursday’s game with an illness.
“Me and Nasher played together just prior to his call-up. We had some good chemistry going, so hopefully we can continue tonight,” Terry said. “I’m comfortable with my centerman. We have a good relationship off the ice, and we’re good friends. Playing with him tonight will definitely ease the transition.”
“We’ve played together quite a bit down in Charlotte,” Nash said. “I know what to expect from him, and he knows what to expect from me. He’s going to be fine.”
“He’s got to be in a position to do well,” Muller said. “He’s familiar with Nash, and I thought the two of them playing together makes it a little bit easier of a transition, and Patty Dwyer has been a solid two-way guy as we all know. It has the potential of being a good third line here tonight. If they go out and work and shoot the puck, they should be all right.”
The joy and excitement of his first NHL recall was evident as Terry skated with the Canes this morning. Relief, maybe, too.
“Finally, the wait’s over,” he said, smiling.