By Paul Osborne, Guelph Tribune
Friday was a big day for Guelph Storm defenceman Adam Comrie. After two years of wondering and fretting as to whether or not the Florida Panthers would sign him to a professional contract, a deal was struck and he is now working out with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, Florida’s top farm team.
“I felt this year was a make it or break it year for me and it added a lot of pressure” said Comrie from his hotel room in Rochester. “It affected my play in the first half and it wasn’t until I stopped putting pressure on myself and just went out and had fun that I started to play better.”
At one point Comrie went to live with coach and GM Jason Brooks to try and get himself straightened around. He has been quite open about his challenges with Attention Deficit Disorder but the several days he spent with the Brooks’ helped.
“That time allowed me to focus on myself and not worry about anything else” said the Panthers 2008 3rd round pick. “I wouldn’t call it the turning point of my season but it allowed me to be on a steady schedule. I need to take time for myself.”
As luck would have it, Storm teammate Corey Syvret had signed an Amateur Tryout (ATO) the week before so Comrie knew somebody when he arrived in Rochester. For Syvret the signing was unexpected.
“It’s pretty ironic that the team that once owned my rights brought me in for another tryout” said Syvret, a former draft pick of the Panthers. “I’ve played in four games and it’s been a great experience for me. We’ll see what happens in the future.
“They also have (former Storm defenceman) Michael Caruso here so I guess the Storm is their farm team for defenceman” joked Syvret who has one assist in the four games he’s played.
Neither Comrie nor Syvret knows whether they’ll suit up for the Americans in the playoffs that begin on Thursday, but the numbers say it is doubtful.
“Two top defenceman are being sent back from Florida because they didn’t make the playoffs so there are 11 or 12 guys here right now” said Syvret. “It’s just great being here with the guys and playing at a higher level.”
For Comrie it is a dream come true to sign a pro contract and he has earned it. He was easily the Storm’s most impactful defenceman in the playoffs and with his size and skating ability, he’ll have every opportunity to play in the NHL. His biggest challenge will be staying on an even keel off the ice. If he can do that, the sky is the limit.
From the Land of Oz….Peter Holland of the Storm also signed a three year entry level contract with the Anaheim Ducks recently. Holland, Anaheim’s first pick (15th overall) in last year’s draft had a great second half with the Storm to end up with 30 goals and 79 points. He was also second to Michael Latta in playoff scoring with 8 points in 5 games.
It is expected that Holland will return to the Storm for next season. Depending on organizational depth, Comrie could very well stay with Rochester meaning that Chris VanLaren and Sam Lofquist will be penciled in as overage defencemen for the Storm next season.