Stop by for a Fill-Up
of the latest Phantoms chat and other fun stuff
with radio broadcaster Bob Rotruck.
July 22 - Welcome Back, Fitzy!
Zack FitzGerald talks about coming back to the
Adirondack Phantoms this season. Listen to the
interview or you can read the entire conversation
Bob: Fitzy! How the heck are
ya? Long time, no talk!
Fitzy: Wonderful man. It's been
Bob: Well, tell me. We've got
the big news here. And you're coming back to the
Phantoms. Tell me about the decision to come back
to the Adirondack Phantoms this season.
Fitzy: Well basically. Kind
of like I've been telling everybody. I tried to
express my interest and how much fun I had last
year. You know, my comfort and enjoyment of the
season and all that good stuff. I tried to express
that with everybody within the organization. When
I was speaking with the guys all the conversations
were very positive and were really good both ways.
I was really happy.
We basically agreed awhile ago. It's just taken
a little time to get it released. But everything
was positive and I'm super-excited and I think
they are too. I think it'll be good for everybody.
Bob: Talk about the reception
that you received when you came to Glens Falls
You've been a popular player with a lot of the
teams that you've been with. But the fan support
and the outreach to you almost right from the
very beginning the fans in Glens Falls fell in
love with you.
Fitzy: Pretty surprising. I
think I joked a little bit when I first came to
town I felt like I almost needed to put a public
announcement out there to apologize to any fans
I had rubbed the wrong way with a word or two
in there all yelling at me there. But you know
what, when I first got into town everybody was
great. Everybody was very receiving of me. We
all kind of stick together. Everybody likes the
rough stuff and I try to bring it and make the
Immediately people were on my side and accepted
me into the team and even went above and beyond.
Some people were making signs and t-shirts and
all this twitter stuff. I couldn't actually really
believe it. So that's another big reason why I
wanted to come back too is (them) making hockey
that much more fun for me. So it was an easy decision
to come back.
Bob: Well, that's fantastic.
Tell me about what you've been doing this summer.
Speaking of your twitter, I just saw on your twitter
you're meeting a new addition to your family...is
Fitzy: Yup. I'm actually at
my sister's house now. We're taking shifts on
holding the baby and being the babysitter and
having some nice, special time with the family.
So that's been pretty special. We're down in Minneapolis/St.
Paul area now. We're all originally from Duluth.
We made a little road-trip down and hanging out
here and trying to help out.
Otherwise, the summer's been pretty good. It
goes quick like always. I did a little trip down
to Florida for the union meeting and also see
a couple friends down there and then back and
forth from Winnipeg to Minnesota. It's been kind
of hectic but at the same time it's always great
to be around these areas and get this kind of
time in too.
Bob: Right. I know you went down
to Florida for the union meeting representing
the Phantoms on their behalf down there. On top
of that, you hold a hockey camp for the kids during
the summer at some point too, right?
Fitzy: Yeah, we are having a
camp here in Duluth on July 29th. First Annual
Fitzy Camp with my brother and I. Some people
may know, some may not, he played professional
hockey for many years. he played with the Penguins
and he played in the minors for awhile and he
went to Germany and he played college in my hometown.
So we're going to kind of use his name to promote
and get some kids out there and try to pass on
the hockey skills that we've learned over the
years. And it might be a little early to say it
now and maybe jump the gun but maybe we'll have
a Glens Falls Hockey Camp at the end of the season
Bob: Oh, that would be fantastic.
You just love working with the kids. You did that
so much up here in Glens Falls too.
Fitzy: Oh yeah. It's all about
the kids for sure. I still act like a kid I'm
sure. And I remember what it was like to be their
age. And it's fun. It's fun to have people around
that can show you a trick or two. And to just
be a kid is the best part.
Bob: We don't know exactly who's
going to be on the Phantoms this coming year.
But we have a reasonable idea and a lot of the
guys who were on the team last year are coming
back. What do you think of the team and the make
up for this coming season.
Fitzy: That's been kind of a
question I've had myself too is exactly who's
going to be back. But personally it's always nice
to come back to familiar faces and to play again
with teammates that you went to war with. And
to kind of start out clean with a new season and
hope for a better year with making the playoffs
and stuff. But it's always good to come back to
friendships you've had. I made a lot of good friendships
and had a great relationship with all the coaches.
And that makes things great. Having old Bob around
is great as well! (Haha). And then to come back
to the fans and the atmosphere...it's all a plus.
Bob: Fitzy, Welcome back. Thank
you so much. Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Fitzy: Thank you, Bob. Thanks
for calling me. I'm excited to be back and excited
to see everybody again. Should be great.
(picture - Zack FitzGerald joined Bob Rotruck
in the booth for a radio broadcast last season)
July 16 - Busy Time
For the middle of the off-season, when one might
think not much would be going on, it sure has
been a busy time for the Adirondack Phantoms as
well as the AHL in general.
- Trade Danny Syvret for Kris Newbury a couple
weeks ago. Then sign 2012 AHL Goalie of the Year
Yann Danis who had previously led Oklahoma City
to back-to-back appearances in the conference
finals. I expect that he will split time with
Cal Heeter who certainly came into his own and
played better and better throughout the season.
Niagara University goalie Carsen Chubak, who put
up great numbers last year for the Purple Eagles
and signed a contract with the Phantoms, I think
could end up being sent to the ECHL.
- Speaking of which, the previous ECHL affiliate
for the Flyers/Phantoms in Trenton, NJ folded
up shop at the end of last season. Too bad they
couldn't make it work there. Hopefully in the
future though. It looks like the ECHL affiliate
for this coming season will be Greenville, SC
again. I have not seen it officially announced
by Philadelphia but a couple of reporters have
mentioned it recently so I will assume it is legit
info. The Flyers/Phantoms were with the Greenville
Road Warriors a couple seasons ago and are familiar
with Dean Stork, the head coach down there who
is really sharp and does a good job developing
the prospects. Typically only three or four players
will be assigned to the ECHL. And they might have
another parent club too (the NY Rangers past couple
years) and then the rest of the ECHL team is filled
out by free-agents.
- Flyers announce they have re-signed defensemen
Erik Gustafsson and Oliver Lauridsen. I anticipate
Gustafsson to crack the big club. Lauridsen has
a chance to crack the Flyers after his strong
showing in 15 games at end of last year but there
is also a strong chance he ends up back with the
Phantoms at beginning of season. He certainly
has lots to be excited about though after playing
so well and catching a fiar amount of attention.
- Flyers announce that they will spend part of
preseason training camp up in Lake Placid. Sept
19-23 will be their get-away "working vacation"
as it were for team-bonding and just a change
of scenery. Nice idea. No games unfortunately.
Many of the players who will eventually be on
the Phantoms will likely still be in camp with
the Flyers at that point of camp. And then I expect
our players will start arriving to Glens Falls
maybe around September 24 to continue camp and
get ready for our own preseason game on September
- Some Phantoms from last year are off to new
teams. Good luck to Ian Slater who signed an ECHL
contract with the Orlando Solar Bears. And also
to Garrett Roe who signed on to play in Europe
with the Salzburg Red Bulls in Austria.
Also, about a month ago, Shane Harper was traded
to the Islanders in exchange for Mark Streit.
Could be a positive, fresh start for Harper who
spent different parts of this past season in the
ECHL and/or being a healthy scratch with Adirondack
or not getting as much ice-time as he would like.
This year, he could likely end up with Bridgeport
so there's a good chance we will be seeing him
on the other side of the ice. One of the most
memorable moments in Phantoms' and AHL history
came on his stick on January 6, 2012 when he scored
the overtime winning against Hershey in the Outdoor
Classic in front of a record crowd of 45,653 at
Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
- AHL Realignment. Doesn't really impact the
Phantoms a whole lot. Adirondack's division will
remain the same with the only change being that
the team in Hartford will go back to being called
the Hartford Wolf Pack instead of the Connecticut
Whale. The Northeast Division consists of the
Albany Devils (NJ), Adirondack Phantoms (PHI),
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI), Hartford Wolf Pack
(NYR), Springfield Falcons (CBJ). The divisions
have some meaning in the AHL but not as much as
the NHL. Last year, we saw a couple non-division
opponents more frequently than teams from our
own division. Sometimes works out that way.
- Utica Comets will be part of the Western Conference
in the North Division with Rochester, Hamilton,
Toronto, Lake Erie. Some speculation and/or hope
that they might be in the Eastern Conference somehow.
But to even it out it still makes some amount
of sense to keep them in the West. Adirondack
will likely see the Utica Comets probably 4-6
times this coming season though (guessing). Utica
being in the other conference does not mean we
will not play them. Rochester is in the Western
Conference as well and we see them four times
every year (two in Glens Falls and two out in
- Brendan Burke has been announced as the new
broadcaster for the Utica Comets. Welcome to the
Eastern Conference, Brendan! He was the broadcaster
for the Peoria Rivermen the past five seasons
before they lost their AHL team this past season.
Wheeling broadcasters unite! Brendan was the voice
of the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL for two seasons
from 2006-08. And then I followed him there for
the next two seasons from 2008-10. We both were
able to use Wheeling as our stepping-stone to
broadcasting gigs in the AHL.
- Phantoms announce Home Opener will be Saturday,
October 12. Opponent to be announced with the
unveiling of the full AHL schedule in mid-late
August. We do know that the first home game will
NOT be against the Albany Devils though. Because
Albany also has their home opener on October 12.
Also, the AHL season actually starts the weekend
before that on Friday, October 4. So Adirondack
will probably be traveling somewhere the weekend
of October 4-5 for a couple of away games. Hopefully
somewhere close'ish so some of our fans can meet
us there and cheer us on for the very first games
of the year before we even get back to Glens Falls
for our own Opening Night.
- Well, actually, our fans will get that chance
to cheer on the Phantoms before October 12 no
matter what. Preseason game will be Saturday,
September 28 at the Glens Falls Civic Center against
the Albany Devils. Who cares that it isn't an
official game and doesn't count in the standings?
It's hockey and we are dropping the puck and slamming
bodies into glass on September 28 and that's what
- About 2 weeks until D-Day...meaning Daddy-Day
for me. I will be a first-time father sometime
in early August most likely...and life as I know
it will be forever changed! Haha.
Until next time, Keep Truckin!
Always happy to receive your questions and comments.
Send to @bobrotruck on twitter.
July 2 - Trade!
It wasn't exactly a huge deal in the NHL world
of the caliber that would Pierre McGuire excited.
But at the AHL level, yesterday's trade of veterans
Kris Newbury and Danny Syvret was a biggie. Acquiring
an experienced point-producer is significant for
Adirondack. And Kris Newbury wasn't picked up
from the Rangers cheaply as Danny Syvret is a
leader in the locker-room and on the ice.
Newbury has played almost 600 games in the AHL
and has scored 142 goals and 439 points. He also
brings toughness with 1,332 penalty minutes. Tye
McGinn's first NHL fight was against Kris Newbury
in a Philadelphia vs. New York Rangers game. And
while it may not have worked out so well for Newbury,
he showed he's willing to step up with some pretty
tough customers including big rookies like McGinn
who sometimes will not find combatants to reciprocate
in what essentially becomes a "not much to
gain...much to lose" type of situation for
anyone he might ask.
Anyway, Newbury notched 20 goals last year and
25 goals the year before that. I think in some
ways, that's practically all you need to know
right there. He's been pretty legit up front for
the Connecticut Whale (now changing their name
back to the Hartford Wolf Pack for the coming
Michael "Stats" Cignoli of the Saratogian
dug up what I found to be the most interesting
stat of all. Newbury has 60+ points in the AHL
in each of the last three seasons. That's tremendously
consistent. He's the only player in the Eastern
Conference to have done that and joins just one
other AHL'er, T.J. Hesnick of Peoria, with that
amount of consistency.
Similarly, Danny Syvret is an impressive point-producer
from the blue-line. He is the only defenseman
in the league with 40+ points in each of the last
Interesting. Thanks to Michael Cignoli for digging
up those stats. I was not aware of either one.
Now just because Newbury has spent the bulk of
his almost-700 career games in the AHL does not
mean he is a guarantee for Adirondack. That's
a key here too. He is on an NHL contract of course
and he is undoubtedly looking at this move and
new organization as his chance to impress some
new evaluators. The Flyers obviously liked Newbury
or they would not have traded to get him. Newbury
played six games with the Rangers last year and
could fill a similar fill-in role with Philadelphia.
Or maybe he does well and earns a spot for longer
stretches. It's not impossible.
But if Philadelphia is all-filled-up for forwards
and there just isn't room for Newbury, then he
will be a valuable forward veteran to click with
Adirondack's young guys such as Jason Akeson,
Marcel Noebels and Nick Cousins (all of whom are
itching for their chance to win a spot with Philadelphia
as well come September and October).
Until next time, Keep Truckin!
JUNE 28 - Welcome!
Hi everyone! And welcome to my new blog page
on the Phantoms Hockey website. In here, I'll
be keeping you updated on the latest with the
Phantoms and some other fun things. Let's have
First...the name. I can't say I was overly crazy
at first about the name "The Truck Stop".
I guess I've been-there-done-that with pretty
much every Trucker and Tow-Truck joke in reference
to my weird last name. But the gang at the office
loved it, and then my wife did too. So I eventually
said, "Okay, let's do it."
Kudos to Andrew Hill in the office for the graphic-design
at the top. I think it captures the kind of weird
spirit of the thing that I'm hoping for in here.
I promise that we really will have more Phantoms
related thoughts and commentary in here as well.
After all, Opening Night is only about 100 days
away. But I thought a quick little, summer life-update
from back at the Truck Stop Ranch could be a nice
way to start.
The biggest news in the Rotruck household is the
impending arrival of our first child. Wife Teresa
is almost eight months pregnant. Our little girl
is due August 4th and we can't wait to welcome
the new Micro-Truck into the world.
At some point, if she goes into broadcasting,
then she can go from Micro-Truck to Mic-Rotruck!
Hahaha. Get it?!?! Mic like a microphone?! (crickets,
crickets) "Hello? Is this thing on?!"
Okay, so that was terrible. The Truck Stop is
off to a flying start!! Until next time, Keep
June 28 - Summer Baseball
A lot of fans ask what I do during the off-season.
I've been pretty busy actually. I do a little
bit of work for the Phantoms on the website and
media-releases and now this fun little Truck Stop
thing as well. But mostly I am only a full-time
employee of the team around and during the season.
Pretty much from September through May.
I'm spending my second summer broadcasting baseball
games for one of the local summer-collegiate teams
where the college-eligible kids get experience
playing with wood bats. It's actually pretty high-quality
baseball with some good crowds and I have been
a bit surprised at how much I have enjoyed it.
The season is only 2 months long and it works
perfectly in-between hockey seasons.
The team I am with is called the Amsterdam Mohawks
and they play their home games about an hour away
from Glens Falls. Amsterdam, N.Y. is about 25
minutes past Saratoga.
The Mohawks are in the same league as the Glens
Falls Golden Eagles. So when Amsterdam plays an
away game up here in Glens Falls it is only about
a 5 minute drive for me over to Dix Avenue. There
is also a different team called "Adirondack"
in this league which makes things even more confusing.
In the small village of Boonville, N.Y. about
midway between Utica and Watertown are the Adirondack
Trail Blazers. So yeah...when Amsterdam takes
on Adirondack in baseball I get messed up in the
head pretty easily and have to slow down and make
sure I am getting the teams right and don't say
"Phantoms" out of habit, etc.
This Saturday, the baseball team hits the road
to play the Utica Brewers. And I'm going to leave
early to swing by the arena there and check out
the home of the new Utica Comets AHL team (fingers
crossed it will be open and I can go inside).
I'm sure the Phantoms will be making 2 or 3 trips
there during the regular season and I always am
excited to get to experience a new arena, venue
and atmosphere. They all have a different flavor
and The Aud in Utica has a ton of history of course.
Until next time, Keep Truckin!
Questions or comments? Send me a message on twitter