As of this past Sunday, the Binghamton Devils 2018-19 season came to an end.
The team finished with the second-lowest points total in the AHL.
However, despite the sub-par record, there certainly were some positives to take away from the season.
This year, the team saw a lot of growth from many different players.
This led to some of those guys getting the call up to New Jersey, with a few of them sticking around there.
All-in-all, the team had countless players who spent time in Binghamton this year either moved up to New Jersey or down to the ECHL with Adirondack.
That included eight goaltenders alone.
This created a lot of chaos for new head coach Mark Dennehy.
Coming from the collegiate level, Dennehy wasn’t used to the constant cycling, and after a few months, it was even rare in the eyes of his coaching staff.
“Well, I knew that going from college to the professional level that I was going to get a chance to meet a lot more people in hockey. I didn’t realize that eight of them would be goalies. We had a lot of turnover. It was a challenging year on that front. I knew there would be a lot of turnover at the AHL level. We got to December and I was looking at the staff saying ‘Is this normal?’, ‘Yeah, this is normal’. Then, we get to January and I’m like ‘Oh my goodness, is this normal?’ and they’d say yeah this is normal. And then we get to February, and finally they’re like ‘Yeah, this isn’t normal’. It was a challenging year on that front,” he said.
Despite all the shuffling, the expectation is still to be able to develop players and get them ready for the next level.
However, Dennehy knows that winning is also a large part of development, and that the parent club has a certain culture that they uphold.
New Jersey Assistant General Manager and Binghamton GM Tom Fitzgerald can attest to that as well.
“You can only call yourself young so often. So, I think the important part for us is to continue to make steps moving forward as these younger players become more established players. That, organizationally, here in Binghamton, we continue to take steps. There’s a culture in New Jersey, you hear the players talk about it. Our job is to bring that culture here. I think we did a better job of it. But, there’s still more work to do,” says Dennehy.
“Winning is the end result of all those positive things. So, our standard is going to rise. It’s going to increase, and rightfully so. Our standard in New Jersey is lofty. So, it’s got to be the same here,” Fitzgerald says.
You have to figure with New Jersey holding the top pick in the NHL Draft for the second time in three years, that winning culture may be raised very quickly at all three levels.