Answer? With the AHL Henderson Silver Knights, the Las Vegas Golden Knights affiliate. At only 27 he is considered an old man in the AHL trying to get back into the show. Younger prospects with more upside get call ups when opportunities emerge. Whether he'll find a path back to the big club is to be determined. Likewise, Michael Frolik, aged 33, is battling it out in Europe continuing his professional hockey career after getting passed over by the league.
Professional hockey is a cruel business. One day you could be standing at the draft podium reveling in the fact you've just become the first overall pick in the NHL draft. Next, you find yourself plodding away in the AHL trying to reestablish dominance that so easily came to you when you were a teenager. And as the years pass you're joined by others who once had potential and are now just trying to hang on. Maybe catch a little bit of magic, get hot at the right time when the big club needs a call up. Just trying to do everything you can to keep the dream alive and get the bills paid. More than likely the ride will be over by the time you hit 30.
Life moves fast for 20-year olds. If you can't keep up, it's time to move on. Or should you?
I recently started playing organized old-man league baseball. Rec league for players who love the game and don't want to give it up. Leagues are comprised of anyone and everyone. Players, like me, who once achieved fame and glory on high school baseball fields. D1 college athletes who once had dreams and aspirations of making the big leagues until injuries or a lack of talent derailed their dreams. Semi-pro players who never quite made it. Pro players who just can't let go of playing competitive ball. Yet when you hit your 40's, age regresses your abilities and no amount of training or desire will ever restore your 95 mph fastball, bat swing speed, or whatever metric scouts would use to judge your performance. All of a sudden you're just a regular human walking this planet doing normal people things. And that's OK.
Maybe that's why we all love a good story about an un-drafted free agent beating all odds and becoming a respected NHL veteran. Or, rookies making their NHL debut after many in the league have already retired. There's still hope, passion, desire for anyone toiling away in the minors. I applaud Pouliot for sticking with it. Maybe there are a few more stories yet to be written in his hockey career. If not, there's always old man rec leagues. Winning championships feels damn good at any age.