It looks like Dennis Seidenberg will be unable to play tonight, meaning only two of the six defensemen who took the ice on opening night back in October for the Hurricanes will be wearing black for the Hurricanes tonight in Philadelphia. Neither of the two extra Carolina defensemen sitting in the press box that night – Anton Babchuk (elbow injury) and Josef Melichar (reassignment) -- are available for the Hurricanes tonight either. That means four of the six blueliners playing for Carolina tonight started this season as members of the River Rats.
One man’s setback is another’s opportunity. When Frank Kaberle and Dennis Seidenberg went down, Casey Borer and Tim Conboy got the chance to return to the NHL. When Niclas Wallin went down, big Brett Carson came up to make his NHL debut. And with Babchuk out, here comes young Bryan Rodney to reach his NHL dream.
Rodney may just be the best story of them all. This time last year, the London, Ont., native was playing for the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL. Fresh off of earning ECHL Player of the Week honors, Rodney was one of six Jackals skaters plucked from Elmira to play for Albany on Dec. 16 of last year, when a flu bug decimated the River Rats roster. The ECHL All-Star shined in the AHL for the rest of the season, scoring 15 points (4g, 11a) from the Albany blueline and leading all River Rats in playoff scoring.
Rodney’s great run in the AHL at the end of last season helped him earn an NHL, two-way contract with the Hurricanes this summer. In September, he was one of the pleasant surprises of Hurricanes training camp, and one of the final cuts Carolina made when finalizing its NHL roster. After a brief injury setback of his own, Rodney has gotten back on track with the River Rats, notching eight points in 17 AHL games this season.
And today he gets the call – a chance to make his NHL debut against the red hot Philadelphia Flyers.
So as disheartening as it sometimes feels to watch player after player head into Peter Friesen
’s training room, there are two sides to every story. Imagine what a journey the past 12 months have been for Bryan, a kid who seemed to enjoy every single moment even in training camp in Raleigh, commenting to me after multiple exhibition games about just how “awesome” the fans are at the RBC Center. Kyle is on this road trip, but I know I’ll be listening for John Forslund
to call out number 29’s name tonight on FS Carolinas. The kid that went from playing without an NHL affiliation at First Arena in Elmira, NY, to skating in the world’s best league at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, PA, in less than a year.