Photo Courtesy Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America
By MIKE ASHMORE
Special to ECHL.com
Troy Bodie is no stranger to a hectic season.
Just last year, with the Anaheim Ducks finding themselves without an AHL affiliate, Bodie was shuttled back and forth between Anaheim and the San Antonio Rampage and Toronto Marlies. This year has proven to be just as unpredictable.
The former Stockton Thunder sniper was claimed on waivers last week by the Carolina Hurricanes, having been sent down to the minors by Anaheim after collecting one point in nine games and serving as a healthy scratch in most of their other contests.
“Troy is a gritty player who gets up and down the ice well,” said Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford in a team statement.
“He will add good size and a physical presence to our corps of forwards.”
But it was his scoring touch that was on full display while with Stockton during his first professional season in 2006-07. A ninth round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers back in 2003, the personable 25 year old native of Portage La Prairie, Manitoba posted 21 goals and 17 assists in just 46 games at the ECHL level.
Both totals, which remain career highs, were far lower while he played out a 20-game stint with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs that season. Bodie could only muster one assist.
"It was an experience," said Bodie of that first pro season.
"I went down to the ECHL right off the bat and I knew it was just a numbers game within from not having a full American League affiliate. I had to go down there, work my hardest and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I got to play 20 minutes a night in all situations, and it ended up being the best thing for me at the time."
The 2007 Kelly Cup Playoffs were the last time Bodie would put on an ECHL sweater, as his Stockton season didn’t go unnoticed. Bodie spent all of the following season in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons, and after signing a one-year contract with the Ducks, he played in his first four NHL games.
But it was never a given for Bodie that he would get that far. For as proud of the league is of its graduates, it can also serve as a hockey graveyard, where once-promising careers end with little fanfare. While with Stockton, Bodie never took making the NHL for granted, and says the possibility of never making it out of the ECHL was in the back of his mind.
"The thought crosses your head, of course," he said.
"But I think lots of people’s careers die there because they let it happen. I wasn’t prepared to let that happen. I went there, worked my hardest and tried to get better."
And with that positive attitude came results. Just two seasons removed from playing for the Stockton Thunder, Bodie’s first regular season NHL game was January 16, 2009 in Mellon Arena against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"It was nerve-wracking, that’s for sure," Bodie said.
"It was my dream to play in the NHL, and there were so many times where there were glimmers of hope that it would happen, and then there were times where there wasn’t. But it was unbelievable getting to open up in Pittsburgh against a team like that. It was unbelievable, it was special."
Last season, Bodie had his most productive year in the NHL yet, racking up five goals and two assists in 44 games as well as 80 penalty minutes while transitioning to a more physical role. But, with the Ducks without a full-time AHL affiliate last season, things weren’t quite as fun when he had to spend time in the minors.
"The first 16 games of the year, I was in San Antonio. More or less, I was in the lineup just to have me in the lineup," Bodie said.
"There was no role for me, it was tough. Things looked up for me going to Toronto and getting more ice time and a role there. Then, they needed a player up here, and I got the call. I made good on it at the time and I found a home for the last half of the year."
And after making the ECHL his home just a few seasons ago, Bodie hopes the NHL will become his permanent home. He’ll just have to head to Raleigh, North Carolina to make it happen.