By Lindsay Kramer
Well before center Rich Peverley had the chance to even look at a potential contract from Milwaukee last summer, Admirals coach Claude Noel checked in with an offer that was hard to refuse.
Noel called Peverley soon after the free-agent season began and told the player he needed him to come back and be a focal point of his offense. It was a daring gambit since Peverley was an unproven ECHL call-up who had a solid (12-34), but hardly spectacular, debut for Milwaukee in 2005-06.
“We had been together for five months. I had invested quite a bit of time in him getting better,’’ Noel said. “We weren’t loaded up the middle of the ice. He had a chance to be a No. 1 center.’’
Noel’s eye for talent matched Peverley’s craving for an opportunity. Peverley returned to the Admirals and in his first full season as an AHL regular leads the squad with 57 points. And his deal keeps getting better. The AHL contract was recently upgraded to an NHL pact.
“In the past (on other teams) I had been the No. 1 guy,’’ said Peverley, 24. “I felt I could do more than last year. That (Noel’s pitch) was a major selling point. If I had been put into another organization, I don’t know where I’d be now.’’