Defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer shares the experience of his first NHL recall after playing 480 minor-league games.
When you're on a bus from Bakersfield, Cali. to Salt Lake City, Utah, there are times when you start to think: "What am I doing right now?"
Those were the times when I thought I'd never receive the phone call that I received on Sunday, when I was told I was being recalled to Buffalo Sabres. I mean, I played in the ECHL for four full seasons. When you're 25 years old and you only have a handful of AHL games under your belt, the childhood dream of playing in the NHL can feel a long ways away.
Getting through those times took a lot of belief and a strong support system. For me, that was my fiancé, my twin brother and the rest of my family. It also came from the guys I train with over the summer - I actually work out at the same gym as Matt Moulson. Being around a bunch of NHL players, you kind of see what it takes. I just kept pushing myself to get there.
I knew a little bit about the injury situation in Buffalo, so my heart rate spiked a bit when my phone rang on Sunday and I saw it was Dan Lambert, our coach in Rochester. All of a sudden, I just became very anxious waiting for the words to come out. Once they did, I didn't have much time to process it.
The call came in the late afternoon. My flight from Rochester to Washington was at 6:30 p.m., so I had to pack my stuff pretty quickly. I went down to the airport, caught my flight and ended up joining the team in Washington around 10 p.m. on Sunday night. Our game was the next day.
On Monday, I was all smiles. It's been a long road for me. I was just really happy that it finally happened, so I tried to take it all in. When the game came, I just tried to contribute. Afterward, it was back to Buffalo for another game the next day.
Between having the back-to-back games and the late travel the night before, I don't think it really had a chance to sink in until our day off on Wednesday, just because I was constantly moving and constantly trying to get ready for the games.
Once it did sink in, here's what I decided: a chartered flight is much more comfortable than a 10-hour bus ride. Really, there's no comparison