Every week leading up to October 13, the “Rookie Round-Up” will give ECHL fans the chance to get to know a Rookie player that has signed with an ECHL team for the 2017-18 Season. For this week’s piece, the ECHL spoke with Robbie Baillargeon of the South Carolina Stingrays- get to know him in this Q&A!
Name: Robbie Baillargeon
Hometown: Enfield, CT
ECHL Team: South Carolina Stingrays
2016-17 Team: Arizona State University (28 GP, 9G, 12A, 21 PTS)
ECHL: So what made you decide to sign with the Stingrays for the 2017-18 ECHL Season?
Robbie Baillargeon: Well I know they've had a really good track record, especially recently, going to the Kelly Cup Finals two out of three years. It's very tough to do, in any league, to make the finals, especially when you have to grind it out in playoffs, so to do that, I know they have something special going on right now. I know Coach Warsofsky has done a great job and we kind of have some small connections. We went to the same prep school - obviously at different times - but we're both alumni of Cushing Academy up in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. His brother David played at Boston University - where I played for three years. I was able to meet David a couple times, so Coach and I kind of have that connection, especially with him being a New England guy too. It's always great to be around a New England guy especially in the hockey world. Also, about a week and a half before I signed, my old roommate and teammate from BU, Nick Roberto, signed with the Stingrays. I was pretty excited to see an old friend and teammate end up in the same spot I was – it will make the transition a little bit easier that I know someone, especially my former roommate who I was pretty close with. So everything just kind of seemed like the right fit with the Stingrays, and I’m looking forward to getting to work and getting started.
ECHL: So what should the ECHL fans know about you on or off the ice?
RB: I'm a pretty low key guy off the ice. Definitely relax when I can. I love sports, I love watching football – I’m a big Patriots and Tom Brady fan. I'm a big fantasy football guy as well. On the ice, I like to think of myself as an offensive guy who makes things happen, creates chances for his team, can create plays and bring that offensive spark to a team. That's the type of game I want to play and can play.
ECHL: What are you most looking forward to for you professional rookie season?
RB: I think just the lifestyle that the professionals have, just focusing on hockey. Obviously I played in college and we had class and practice and extracurricular activities sometimes on the side, so now I'll be able just to focus on hockey. I’ll probably have a little bit more down time than I'm used to since I won't be taking any classes. So overall just the lifestyle, the team bonding that goes on, the road trips, and just how it's all about hockey. I know this season is going to be a lot more of a grind since we play about double the games as I played in college. I know it'll be more of a grind, but I think that's what makes the end of the year so special - you're going through that grind with your teammates and everyone's going through the same thing. So, I think, again, just the whole lifestyle that a professional season entails, I’m excited to see what comes with it.
ECHL: Is there anyone that you model your game after or look up to NHL-wise?
RB: One person I kind of model my game after is Craig Janney - he played in the NHL in the late '80s and '90s. He's actually from my hometown - he played with my Dad growing up. We actually played for the same high school, both went off to prep school, he went to BC, I went to BU, so we kind of had a similar path. He is someone my Dad always taught me to play like- he has that playmaking style of game, moves the puck and is a great passer. And right now I love watching Nick Bonino play - obviously I watched him a lot at BU when he was there. He’s from Connecticut also so I train with him in the summer and skate with him when I'm home. He's someone I like watching on the offensive side of things - he has great hands and he just sees the ice so well. So right now in the NHL he's definitely someone I like to watch.
ECHL: What's the best part of your summer?
RB: Just being in Arizona. I usually spend my summers at home so probably from here on out I'll spend every summer training at home and skating there. But I know I wanted to be around the team a little more because I was only here (ASU) one year. It's a pretty special group of guys here and I think everything is headed in the right direction so I wanted to be around that a little longer. And of course Arizona is very nice weather all the time. Even though I've been training here and skating, it's still kind of been like a vacation to me. I know I probably won't do these things again since I'll probably be back home (in Connecticut). So I've been able to do some things that I've never done before - I've gone hiking a little bit and salt river tubing which was a lot of fun. Another thing is I play a lot of golf in the summer, so I've been taking advantage of that a little too much. But it’s time to head home soon and I’m also looking forward to getting back home.
ECHL: What's one thing that ECHL fans would be surprised to learn about you?
RB: I just got a dog - a golden retriever - his name is Brady. I just got him after the season ended. He’s seven months old and wild. I will keep him home for the start of this season and then once I get settled I’ll see about having my parents bring him down to South Carolina.
ECHL: What’s your proudest hockey moment?
RB: I was able to win a Silver Stick championship in 2005 with a couple other players who are currently playing professionally as well. I was proud to win that with them, and to see where they've ended up is really cool. Also, my whole sophomore year at BU, it was just an incredible year. Pretty much everything I dreamed of growing up came to fruition that year. We won the Beanpot, Hockey East regular season, regionals in the Hockey East post-season tournament and we came a goal shy of winning the National Championship. That whole season was just an incredible year, especially with the team we had, there was just so much talent. Those two things stick out in my mind that when I look back on where I've played and how I've gotten to this point in my career.
ECHL: Aside from Nick Roberto, have you connected with any other of the guys on the team so far?
RB: I haven't yet - I don't think I know anyone else from the team, so right now Nick is the only one.
ECHL: Any last words that you'd like the ECHL fans to know about you as you head into your first professional season?
RB: I’m just excited to get things going. I know it's going to come really quick. But I couldn't be happier to be in South Carolina playing for the Stingrays. I know it's a great area, and a great organization, so I'm just excited to get things going and for the season to start.