Some players would sulk after being demoted to the American Hockey League. Josh Bailey
, however, did not.
And now, he's back for good.
The New York Islanders
recalled their first-round pick from the 2008 Entry Draft on Wednesday morning after watching Bailey tally 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in 11 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Bailey will be in the lineup Wednesday night when the Isles host the Tampa Bay Lightning
at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
It will be Bailey's 160th NHL game, which means he would have to clear waivers in order to go back to the AHL.
"It was good to see all the guys this morning," Bailey told reporters. "I hadn't seen them in a little while. I talked to some of them. But it was a good feeling. It was definitely exciting coming back to the rink this morning."
After a quick start, Bailey was demoted to Bridgeport due to a 13-game pointless skid. He quickly found his game at the Triple-A level and helped the Sound Tigers win 7 of the 11 games he played with them.
"Originally when Garth told me, that first day I didn't really know what was going on," Bailey said. "But we had a game that night, so I really didn't have too much time to think about it. I obviously didn't expect that to happen. I think the way things were going, maybe (I'd spend) a game in the stands or two. But I think it all paid off. I think you just have to make the most of it when stuff like that happens.
"It was good. It was fun. The team is doing well. It's a really great group of guys. It was obviously fun to put up some points, too. It felt good to regain that confidence."
That confidence is exactly what Bailey was asked to find at the time he was sent to Bridgeport on Nov. 24. A prolific scorer at the junior level from 2005-08 -- he had 96 points his final season with OHL Windsor -- Bailey also found his offensive game with the Sound Tigers. He realizes he's back to help the struggling Islanders score goals.
"The reason why they drafted me, I felt like I was playing that way," said Bailey, who has 3 goals and 3 assists in 18 NHL games this season. "Obviously it's a different league, but it's not out of the question to play the way I was playing down there up here. I just tried to play the game I had in junior and play the way that got me drafted here. I think I did that. It felt good getting that swagger back."
It also feels good knowing that he's seen the last of the American Hockey League. Obviously, there's no chance Snow would ever put Bailey on waivers.
"It'll be nice to get (No.) 160 under my belt," Bailey said, joking. "Just getting back into the routine up here will be the (big) thing, but it won't take long. It's nothing I'm not used to."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL