By Lindsay Kramer
Norfolk coach Mike Haviland had two observations upon welcoming right wing Carl Corazzini to the team last season.
Corazzini was wearing his baseball cap backwards. We don’t do that here, Haviland said. Oh, and one other thing. Haviland told Corazzini, primarily a checking-line type, that the Admirals needed him to become a second-line scorer.
Sure thing, Corazzini responded, before turning around his cap and then doing the same to his career.
The breakthrough season that Corazzini, 27, is enjoying this year continues one of the best AHL comeback stories of the past two seasons. He contemplated playing with the UHL’s Danbury Trashers early last season, and now dominates as one of the finishers (19-20) on the hottest team in the AHL.
“Definitely, I feel younger the last two years. In the past … I’ve been inconsistent with the way I’ve prepared for games. My practice habits were pretty poor,’’ he said. “You lose focus. I definitely attribute getting the chance to play more as the reason I’m excited to come to the rink.’’
A reluctance to pull himself away from that lifestyle last year was one reason why he almost wound up in Danbury. After splitting the 2004-05 lockout season between Hershey and Providence, Corazzini wanted to give the game one more full year before, in his mind, retiring.
Mo<“I was definitely prepared to spend the year there (in Danbury). Not happily,’’ Corazzini said. “I didn’t want to come off the lockout and not play one more year.’’ Early in 2005-06, Norfolk was looking for a little scoring depth. A former player put Admirals General Manager Al MacIsaac in touch with Corazzini. Haviland was on board, too, since he had coached him in the ECHL with Atlantic City in 2002-03. “We were pretty confident in that he was going to fit what we were looking for,’’ MacIsaac said. “It had been so long since I was asked to be a scorer,’’ Corazzini said. “I was nervous and excited at the same time.’’ The speedy Corazzini should have been way more of the latter. His 55 points were more than double his previous pro high, and the effort earned him an NHL/AHL deal this season.