By Tom Ferda
Last week, Myles Stoesz was going through his regular routine, laying back to refuel from an all-night bus trip from a game the night before when he got a call from Atlanta Thrashers Vice President/Assistant General Manager Larry Simmons, a call that would change his life.
“We had a late night getting back from a game in South Carolina,” said Stoesz. “I just laid down about four o’clock. I got a call, looked at my caller ID and it was Larry Simmons. He told me I was traded. At first it didn’t sink in. I went and told my roommate, ‘Dude, I just got traded’ then it finally started to sink in. It was a shock for the first day and a half. That night I pretty much sat in my room staring at all my stuff thinking ‘How do I start packing all this stuff’”
Stoesz was part of a deal at the National Hockey League trade deadline that also sent Thrashers defenseman Niclas Havelid to the Devils for Anssi Salmela. With the Thrashers organization overflowing with prospects, Stoesz has yet to be called up and don an NHL uniform but the 22-year-old prospect is hoping for an opportunity in the New Jersey system.
Instead of placing him on the ECHL Trenton Devils roster, the Devils assigned Stoesz to their American Hockey League affiliate Lowell Devils team.
As a few formalities run their course, Stoesz anxiously awaits an opportunity to show what he can do on an AHL sheet of ice. “I think they want their doctors to take a look at me to clear me as far as playing so I don’t know if I’ll be playing this weekend,” said the rugged winger. “I’m happy to be here at practice with the guys and see more of the AHL. I’m taking it one day at a time and will work my butt off as far as practice goes.”
“I want to play. I’m looking forward to my first opportunity,” he added. “All I need is my one shot, one opportunity and I definitely won’t disappoint them.”
This season, Stoesz, the Steinbach, Manitoba native suited up for 43 games with the Thrashers ECHL affiliate Gwinnett Gladiators and tallied 7 points, (4g,3a) while accumulating 158 penalty minutes.
Known for his leadership in and around the locker room, Stoesz is no stranger to fisticuffs. He recorded 449 career penalty minutes over less than two seasons in the ECHL, including a league-leading 291 minutes last season.
Although he will miss the fans in Gwinnett, being delegated to the AHL has many rewards and is one step away from the NHL.
A fan-favorite in Gwinnett, Stoesz’ appreciation for fan support never has gone unnoticed.
“Gwinnett has some of the best fans in the ECHL. They support the team and they supported me tremendously,” said Stoesz. “I’m going to miss them and I want to thank them for coming out and watching while I was there, for buying my jerseys and for putting my videos on ‘YouTube’. That was nice to have.”