Friday, January 11, 2013

Syvret 500 1/11

Danny Syvret does not recall much about the game he played Oct. 14, 2005 at Copps Coliseum.

After all, in the grand scheme of things, it does not lend itself to memory.

He wore No. 45, recorded no points, and finished with a minus-1 rating as his Hamilton Bulldogs dropped a 3-1 decision to the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins.

"I don't really have much of a story," Syvret said earlier this week. "It was just another game for me."

But that game was the first time Syvret donned the jersey of a pro hockey team, marking the beginning of an eight-year professional career that has seen him the Adirondack Phantoms defenseman play for 11 different teams in the National and American hockey leagues. Friday, when Adirondack visits Binghamton, he is expected to play his 500th professional regular-season game.

"I've had a lot of miles," Syvret joked.

His resume includes 59 regular-season games in the National Hockey League, including the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. On that date, he became the first player in league history to score his first NHL goal in a Winter Classic. His former teammate, Brayden Schenn, became the second a year ago this month.

But the lion's share of Syvret's pro experience has come in the American Hockey League. The 27-year-old has played 440 regular season AHL games, including at least one in every current league arena, making him a member of a select fraternity. Of those 440, 175 have come with the Phantoms AHL franchise -- first in Philadelphia, and now with Adirondack, where he is an alternate captain.

Coincidentally, Friday will also be Syvret's 100th game with the Adirondack Phantoms. Due to the timing of the NHL lockout's end and Adirondack losing five men to the NHL, he enters Friday tied with forward Jason Akeson for the most points among the team's healthy remaining players with 13, but Syvret wasn't always known for producing points at the AHL level.

He spent much of his first three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers organization that selected him in the third round of the 2005 NHL Draft. But they were some tumultuous seasons in that the Oilers switched their AHL affiliation from Hamilton to Springfield and ultimately played one season without a sole affiliate, assigning prospects to several different AHL teams.

As a result, he played for NHL Edmonton and AHL Hamilton, Grand Rapids, Springfield and Hershey by the time the Oilers traded him to Philadelphia for Ryan Potulny in 2008. He's since added AHL Syracuse, Peoria and Adirondack and NHL Syracuse and Philadelphia to his resume.

"It was a tough situation for a lot of guys because you're playing in someone else's organization, really," Syvret said. "Obviously they're going to want to win games, but at the end of the day they're going to want to play their prospects too. You sort of took a bit of a back seat in all situations and ice time as well, whether it be because of your play or not, but they wanted to see their own prospects play. That was tough, but getting traded here was real good."

That last part might be an understatement.

He had a breakout season with the then-Philadelphia Phantoms in 2008-09, posting career highs in goals (12), assists (45) and points (57) in 76 games. He had 60 points in 182 AHL games prior to the trade, but has since developed into one of the premier puck-moving defensemen in the league. He is one of only five defensemen who has recorded 40 points in each of the past two AHL seasons.

"I had a lot of success my first year with the Phantoms when they were in Philly under John Paddock," he said. "I just sort of grew a good relationship with the organization and somehow keep finding my way back. I feel comfortable here."


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