Halloween is fast approaching and Albany Devils fans will be dressed in all sorts of costumes. While there will be wicked witches and walking pumpkins wandering around Albany on Halloween, imagine we could dress up as the perfect Albany Devil! This requires two things. First, our perfect A-Devil must have the ability to play hockey at a high level. Just because it is Halloween does not mean our perfect Albany Devil should sacrifice what he does best. Also, our devilish character must contain enough snarl and creepiness to spook the imposter demons.
The Legs Feed the Werewolf
We are going to start from the ice up. Which player has the legs and skating ability to land this coveted spot? As Herb Brooks once said, “The legs feed the wolf.” This came down to two players, Joe Whitney or Jon Merrill. Offense or defense. Small or stately. After bouncing back and forth, the edge went to Merrill. His long legs and solid stride pushed him over the finish line. Defense wins games and Merrill mainly feeds the wolf by not allowing other wolves any food. How does he do this? He has an exceptional ability skating backwards at high speeds, quick cuts when he battles one on one, and excellent footwork at both ends of the rink. Of course, along with having the exceptional ability at denying the opposition chances and thus goals, he has a knack for putting up excellent offensive numbers as well (Seven points in eight games already this season). On Halloween, our perfect A-Devil will deny other goblins candy with his skating ability but will also have an admirable amount of candy for the team.
Jon Merrill using his legs to stop a breakaway against the Hershey Bears.
The Unseen Hands and Upper Body
Moving on up, we need a chest and abdomen for our perfect A-Devil. The winner in this category is Dan Kelly, another defenseman for the Albany Devils. He has a strong and imposing upper body and knows how to use it. As the other monsters come bearing down this Halloween, Kelly will use the perfect A-Devil midsection to knock them off their feet as they race to the next house or crease. Combined with Merrill’s legs, our A-Devil already has the perfect defensive core.
Our perfect A-Devil needs solid arms and hands. These hands must have the ability to put the puck in the net but also must be strong enough to defend against other ghouls on this holiday in the event there is a tussle over the next bag of candy corn. So, we will have one hand for goals and the other for the fisticuffs. Cam Janssen can certainly win any battle for the bag so we will give him the right hand. While he has been slow this season in terms of lighting up the PIM column with fighting majors, his experience with New Jersey and last season for Albany gives him the right hand hook for our perfect A-Devil.
The left hand will be the finisher when it comes to the score sheet. This is also a tough battle and another that comes down to two players. Joe Whitney and newcomer Scott Timmins have virtually identical stat lines. Each has five goals and five assists through the first eight games. Both players are a +5. They each have a pair of power play goals. They play on the same line alongside winger Reid Boucher. Whitney’s name has been at the top of the stat column for points each of the last two seasons. Yet, Timmins is having an incredible debut as an Albany Devil. When it comes to the left hand, we will go with tenure. Whitney has paid his dues in Albany and the fan favorite will be the left hand for the perfect A-Devil.
Watch as Whitney passes to Timmins from behind the goal line for a goal against the Wolf Pack.
The Jack-O’-Lantern and Perfect Halloween Hockey Face
Lastly, we need a head for our perfect player. This category requires hockey smarts, a leader on and off the ice, and a hockey face. It comes down to Tim Sestito or Rod Pelley. Rod Pelley is the captain and Tim Sestito is the alternate captain so each player has the ability to be a leader. Both players have a veteran presence to go along with the letter to the upper right of the Albany Devils logo on their respective jerseys. As has become a theme with almost every category, it comes down to the final qualification. Unfortunately for Sestito, he has a baby face compared to Pelley. This becomes even clearer when Pelley opens his mouth. As can be seen during this interview, the Pelley smile is what gives our A-Devil the perfect finishing touch.
Rod Pelley is happy to be back in Albany. Check out those fangs when he smiles…or lack thereof.
As the Devils prepare for the Syracuse Crunch Wednesday night at the Times Union Center, fans can prepare to dress up as the perfect Albany Devil. Merrill’s legs and feet, Kelly’s chest and abdomen, Whitney’s and Janssen’s arms and hands, and Pelley’s head make up the perfect 2013-14 Albany Devil. Plus, as an added bonus to wearing the best Halloween gear in town, kids who dress up in costumes get in free for the game against the Crunch as mentioned in my previous article featuring the best of the 2013-14 Albany Devils promotional schedule.
Leo is in his second year with THW. He covers the 3-Time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils and the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League. You can follow Leo on Twitter, @LeoScaglioneJr.