Denis Hamel is still
lighting the lamps as well as anybody in the American
He leads the Adirondack Phantoms with 10 goals
and 21 points and it is a position he's familiar
with. He led Adirondack in 2010-11 with 25 goals
an 50 points. And in his six AHL seasons prior
to arriving in Adirondack, he was the all-time
leading scorer in Binghamton Senators history.
Before that, he was cranking up his powerful slapshot
for the Rochester Americans in a professional
career that began in 1997.
Hamel’s most recent goal was a long empty-netter
on Friday night, with over five minutes remaining,
to seal a 5-1 Phantoms win at the Norfolk Admirals.
The goal puts him in the same company with another
Adirondack hockey great, Glenn Merkosky. Now with
325 career goals apiece, Hamel and Merkosky are
tied for 12th all-time on the AHL leader-board.
Hamel's next goal will move Merkosky down one
Glenn Merkosky played 11 professional seasons
including six with the Adirondack Red Wings from
1985-91 where he won a pair of Calder Cup Championships
in 1986 and 1989. His uniform number 15 was retired
on December 22, 1993 and continues to decorate
the rafters of the Glens Falls Civic Center. He
was inducted into the inaugural class of the Adirondack
Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
Merkosky's numbers with Adirondack were strikingly
similar to Hamel's stats with Binghamton. Merkosky
scored 204 goals with the Red Wings. Hamel scored
203 goals as Binghamton's all-time leading scorer.
Merkosky's top season was a 54 goal campaign in
1986-87 to lead the league. Hamel accomplished
the same feat 19 years later with a 56 goal campaign
Now a scout for the Detroit Red Wings, Merkosky
has enjoyed all the coverage of the Denis Hamel
chase of his spot on the goal-scoring leader-board.
He even paused to take a trip down memory lane
was first informed of the countdown.
"It's actually pretty interesting,"
Merkosky said. "Adirondack was playing in
Rochester and I was scouting at the game and somebody
had mentioned it (the Hamel countdown) to me.
Sometimes you feel like
you've been away from the game for so long you
almost forget you ever played. So I watched that
whole game in a little bit of a different light.
I was thinking to myself how it was sure fun playing
back in those days. It was a great, little bit
of a flashback moment for me."
Hamel admits that for him, it’s all about
enjoying the game itself and not the milestones.
He has decided this may be his last season playing
professionally in the game he loves and he wants
to savor every
“I hear about it (the pursuit of Merkosky's
325 goals) and read about it, but I try not to
think of that. I’m just here to play hockey
and do the best I can,” said Hamel. "This
year is my 15th year and I'm
thinking maybe about retiring after this season
so I just want to do the best I can for my last
In a matter of weeks, Hamel will pass another
impressive milestone when he plays in his 1,000th
career professional game. He is currently at 990
games played including 798 in the AHL and 192
in the NHL with
Buffalo, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Merkosky had many compliments for Hamel's abilities
and career, "Obviously being a scout, I've
watched Denis play for a lot of years and he's
such a tremendous goal scorer. Certainly congratulations
Like several of the former Adirondack Red Wing
greats, Phantoms head coach Joe Paterson and Merkosky
both continue to reside in the Glens Falls area
watching today's stars such as Hamel continue
the rich hockey tradition of the region. "We
ex-players laugh and talk about it now,"
Merkosky said. "We were young players then
and we end up driving to some little town in northern
New York and wondering exactly where we're going.
And now it's home for us. Guys like Greg Joly
still live here full-time. Pete Mahovlich is my
neighbor. It's been a great place to live and
a great place to bring up a family."