As the St. John’s IceCaps hold players meetings in advance of their first-round AHL playoff series against the Syracuse Crunch, those with post-season experience in the league are passing on some of the wisdom that was willed to them over the years.,
For defenceman Zach Redmond, the theme of his advice is the same as what he heard as an IceCap rookie in 2011-12.
“I was lucky to have Jason King and (Jason) Jaffray and guys like that back then,” said Redmond after the IceCaps’ practice at Mile One Centre Tuesday.
“I remember the years we were in the playoffs, there would be a meeting called and someone like Jaffs or Kinger would say ‘I know you first and second-year guys think this happens a lot, but it doesn’t. Make sure you make the most of it. Make sure you enjoy it.’
“I’ve never forgotten that and that’s what I’m telling the guys now.”
As a pro, playoffs have been an on-and off proposition for the 28-year-old Redmond.
He was a rookie on the 2012 IceCaps who went all the way to the Eastern Conference final before losing to the eventual Calder Cup champions Norfolk Admirals, one of the best teams in AHL history. The next year, he was with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets when he suffered a gruesome practice injury — a severed artery and vein in his thigh — that cost him almost all the second half of that season.
In 2013-14 Redmond returned to action with both St. John’s and Winnipeg and was with the IceCaps on their march all the way to the Calder Cup final before losing to the Texas Stars.
Then came the kind of drought Jaffray and King had warned him about. After signing as a free agent with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, there were two years of no post-season action. Now, back with the IceCaps, this time as part of the Montreal Canadiens’ organization, Redmond is ready to become the answer to a trivia question: Who is the only players to have appeared in all three of the IceCaps’ playoff runs?
He laughs off the suggestion this all could mean he is some sort of good-luck charm.
“No, it’s me who has had the good luck to be part of some great teams,” he said
“And we had those experienced players I was talking about, the older guys, the kind of guys who can get you through it all.”
It gets him thinking about a famous former teammate with the Avalanche.
“You see a guy like (Jarome) Iginla, still chasing a (Stanley) Cup after 20 years. It just reinforces the message that any time you make the playoffs, you don’t want to let it just slip away.”
There’s no chance of Redmond falling into the trap. He revels in the playoffs, which he calls “hockey in its purest form.
“You are just trying to win with your team. It’s not about you. It’s not about the money. It’s boiled down to the simplest form of hockey and that’s when hockey is the most fun.”
Canadiens prospect Victor Mete has signed an amateur tryout contract with the IceCaps.
The five-foot-10, 180-pound defenceman recently completed his second Ontario Hockey League season with the London Knights, scoring 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games.
The 18-year-old Mete, who is a native of Woodbridge, Ont., was selected by the Canadiens in the fourth round (100th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He also attended the selection camp for last Canadian national junior team.
Mete has already signed an entry-level contract (ELC) with the Canadiens, but many prospects with junior eligibility sign tryout deals to play with AHL teams until they turn pro permanently, when their ELCs will kick in.
IceCaps winger Daniel Carr participated in a full practice Tuesday, but has still not been cleared to play after being sidelined all of April with a concussion … The Syracuse roster lists four former IceCaps — former St. John’s captain Gabriel Dumont, Michael Bournival, Stephane Fournier and Jonathan Racine. Dumont and Bournival signed as free agents with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Crunch’s NHL parent, in the off-season. Racine was dealt to the Lightning in the mid-season trade that brought Nikita Nesterov to Montreal, while Fournier was traded to the Arizona Coyotes last season and then was dealt from the Coyotes’ to the Lightning’s organization this February …