Whalers Andy Bathgate Looks to Follow Path of Grandfather, Livingston and Brown
Last Friday in London, Plymouth forward Alex Aleardi skated hard into the London zone, cut to his right and buried a shot into the Knights net under the cross-bar.
The shot caromed so fast in and then out of the net that play went on for a few seconds before the referees stopped the game and awarded the Whalers the goal.
A nice goal by Aleardi, right? Guess again.
Replays confirmed that Plymouth overage center Andy Bathgate got a slight piece of the puck, so he was awarded the goal.
As the preseason showed, that’s the kind of play that the Whalers and their fans can expect from Bathgate – effective, understated and intelligent.
“I try to stay calm out there and not make too many rash decisions,” Bathgate said Thursday. “I’ve played the smart game my whole life. I’m not the biggest guy in the world, so you have to try to use your brain out there.”
After spending three full seasons in Belleville – plus five games in 2007-08 – Bathgate is learning to love life in Plymouth.
“Coming here, being with the team and playing a few games, I’m having a ball,” he said. “It’s a great group of guys and a great coaching staff. My billets (Trish and Dennis Bush) are amazing, I love living with Dario (Trutmann). Plymouth is an amazing area and a fun place to live.”
If Bathgate wasn’t in game shape when he reported to training camp, he received a ton of ice time during the pre-season when the Whalers went 1-1-2 in a pair of games against Windsor and two with London. The Whalers had 11 players at various National Hockey League rookie tournament and training camps, so the remaining players got all they ice time they wanted and then some.
According to Bathgate, the Whalers performance in the preseason with short numbers bodes well for the regular season.
“Pre-season was a little different with 11 guys missing and the starting goalies gone, but we played good games and battled hard against some good teams who didn’t have a lot of guys missing,” he said. “So when we get all that firepower back, it should be a fun year.”
Bathgate will wear number nine this season, partly as a tribute to his grandfather, Andy Bathgate, a National Hockey League Hall-of-Famer who played from 1952-71 with the New York Rangers, Toronto, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Bathgate still works with his grandfather over the summer at the Andy Bathgate Golf Centre in Mississauga. It’s quality time for both.
“I worked a little less this summer with my grandfather at the golf course, because I was focused on training and trying to put on a little more weight for the year,” said the younger Bathgate. “But he’s there, seven days a week and still going strong. I try to see him whenever I can. We don’t do much work, but we do a lot of talking – a lot of hockey stories and stuff. He’s great to have around.”
Having a grandfather who happens to be an NHL Hall-of-Famer has its advantages.
“He has a lot of tips about hockey and how to play the game,” Bathgate said. “Now I find he’s telling me about how to conduct myself around the rink and be a pro hockey player. He was there for a long time and know what it takes (to be successful). He has helped me a lot – more than I can say.”
After being drafted by Pittsburgh and not signed, Bathgate has noted the success of Plymouth overages Tyler Brown, James Livingston and Robbie Czarnik in their final year in the OHL and hopes to follow their career path.
“Making the decision to come to Plymouth as an overage was based on trying to get a professional contract,” Bathgate said. “Not getting signed by Pittsburgh was a little bit of a disappointment, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. So I talked to my agent (Darren Farris, The Orr Hockey Group) and he said that Plymouth was a great place to be, with obviously James and Tyler getting contracts last season. I’m looking to follow in their footsteps – but that comes with having a good team first and having a good year.”
MORE ON TYLER BROWN: Brown - signed by Philadelphia - is making a positive impression with the Flyers this fall. Check out the story in the Philadelphia Sports Daily. The Flyers also interviewed Brown.
MORE MILLER TIME: Whalers forward J.T. Miller played well for the New York Rangers in Traverse City at the NHL Prospect Tournament and was interviewed in a video produced by the Rangers.
THEY'RE BACK: Plymouth defensemen Beau Schmitz and Curtis Crombeen returned to the Whalers today in time for practice after playing in the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City - Schmitz for Carolina, Crombeen for Dallas.