By Lindsay Kramer
© 2005 The Post-Standard
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – By the time his fourth junket from Trenton, N.J., to Syracuse in the span of about one month rolled around, defenseman Matt Libby probably should’ve been better prepared.
But these things pop up without notice, which is why Libby spent time Sunday shopping for jeans and shirts. A man can only do so much with a track suit and a dress suit, the only clothes Libby had when he hit town again Saturday.
Libby, 26, has become Syracuse’s blueliner-in-a-pinch. He has signed four tryout contracts with the team since Feb. 4 to help plug various holes. The latest was necessitated Friday, when Syracuse defenseman Zenith Komarniski suffered a concussion against Albany.
That same night, Libby played for Trenton of the ECHL and then boarded a team bus for a game the next night in Peoria, Ill. Shortly after the trip started, Libby got word that the Crunch needed him again. So Trenton dropped him off at a hotel in Harrisburg, Pa.
Libby unloaded his clothes – just those two suits – and gear and caught a few hours of sleep. Saturday morning, he rented a car and drove to Syracuse, where he played for the Crunch against Edmonton that night.
“I think it will get easier if you learn to accept it. That’s just the way the hockey world works,” Libby said of his constant state of flux. “I have some clothes now. It’s no fun to spend a week in a track suit.”
Libby has spent much of his pro career trying to prove he’s good enough to unpack his suitcase somewhere. Since leaving Providence College in 2001, he’s skated for Bridgeport (AHL), Trenton, Syracuse, Saint John (AHL), Portland (AHL), Quad City (ECHL), Trenton again and then Syracuse again.
“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Syracuse coach Gary Agnew said. “But he’s in a tough position. He’s always been a guy on the verge of getting it done. But he never gets the break. I’m sure he’s frustrated by it. You come up, you go down.”
At least Libby has learned that a change of clothes is a requirement in the transition.
“It’s difficult. But the way I deal with it is it’s out of my control,” Libby said. “I definitely feel like it’d be nice to have an extended stay. But I try to take what they give me and hopefully it works out in my favor.”