Homecoming and Coming Home


At the end of the season in 2006  or 07, Jeremy Colliton cleaned out his locker and headed home. He had a long drive ahead going from Bridgeport, CT to Blackie, AB. Twitter was not created until March of ’06 and didn’t launch until that July but Facebook was available and Jeremy used it to chronicle his long drive home. His periodic status updates about which George Strait song he was listening to, or how he could not wait for the taste of Canadian beef, eased the pain that I and other hockey fans experience when the season ends. Today it’s Twitter that provides that catharsis. (Steve Oleksy/Photo: Pope Steve XXVII).

Several of this years’ Sound Tigers club use twitter and most posted something about their journey. It was obvious from reading each of them that, though sad to leave, they were happy to be home. Kevin Poulin said he was glad to have some ‘home cooking’ and wished teammates Rhett Rakhshani (driving solo to California) and David Ullstrom (flying home to Sweden) well. Ullstrom was in touch with both Casey Cizikas and Trevor Frischmon about having them come to visit him over the summer. John Persson (remember this kids’ name) also from Sweden did not return home. He instead returned to his Canadian billet family in Red Deer, Alberta where he has the most adorable five(?) year-old blonde alarm clock.

Most enjoyable of these exchanges, was the series of tweets posted by Sean Backman and Matt Donovan. After dropping off Sean’s equipment at his family home in Connecticut, these two friends were heading to Matt’s home in Edmond, OK. From a quick stop for a nutritious hot dog and Mt. Dew lunch, to breakfast in St. Louis with Jonathan Quick (LA King’s goalie and bro-in-law of Sean’s) they quipped about being ‘storm chasers’ in Missouri and the heat, which generates those storms, in Oklahoma.

Steve Oleksy left CT later than others and had a long drive to north of Detroit before he could reach home. Like any of us, music was his company on the trip. Music and chats with his good friend and former Islander/ Sound Tiger Greg Mauldin passed the time and he arrived home safely around 7:30pm Friday.

At the end of the 2009-10 season, Greg had made a similar trip home. Though a much shorter trip from Milford, CT to his new house in Milford, MA it was the season ending trip all players make. When ‘Mauldy’ left the Binghamton Senators to join the Sound Tigers at the start of the year he also left a considerable amount of salary, in excess of $50,000, on the table for another chance of making it to the NHL.

It is well known in the hockey community that the Islanders’ are a team that uses their AHL affiliate as a developmental team. Typically at the bottom of the list when it comes to team payroll, players know that if they have the talent and put in the necessary effort, they are apt to get a ‘look’. So Greg took the cut in pay, showed he had the talent, put in the effort and finally got a late season call. For whatever reason, it didn’t work out for Greg and the Islanders. The next season, he regained his lost pay signing with the Colorado Avalanche (another team focused on development within the organization) and joined the teams AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters. His teammate, ‘roomie’ and friend was Steve Oleksy. (Greg Mauldin/Photo:Pope Steve XXVII).

Steve will be evaluating his career in the off-season as well. Before returning home, Steve met with his agent Peter Cooney.  Mr. Cooney also represents Micheal Haley, Trevor Gillies and Joel Ward, whose recent overtime heroics extended the season of the Washington Capitals, among others. I imagine it will be a difficult decision for Steve this off-season. Whether he returns as the ‘Iron-Chef’ of the Sound Tigers ‘906 Boys’ or joins his pal Greg Mauldin with the Lake Erie Monsters will be Steve’s decision and a difficult one to make. I don’t envy him his decision but I do envy the Monster fans or the fans of whatever team he signs with for next year.

Best of luck Steve, and thanks for the banner!

(Side note – Greg has now played 29 games with the Avs and was captain of this years Lake Erie Monsters. Best of luck Mauldy!) 

- Mike Flannery

Follow me on Twitter @hockeyflan

Follow @TCLIsles for all things hockey