The President of the AHL, David Andrews, said it best- “The AHL isn’t Hollywood.” If you listen to Andrews or anyone else from around the NHL development league, they will tell you how tough the league is and three words that always seem to come out of their mouths are long bus rides. It’s a challenge that many are willing to accept but not all will succeed at.
Albany Devils forward, Bobby Butler, knows all too well about how un-Hollywood the AHL can be and how easy it is to slip from the National Hockey League, back down to the American Hockey League and that the trip back up isn’t as easy as the ride down.
“ The long bus rides,” Butler began, “ It kinda makes you realize how hard you’ve got to work. Just gives you perspective on the process and what it takes to hopefully be up there (NHL) someday.”
After a strong season with the Binghamton Senators in which he helped lead the club to a Calder Cup, the undrafted Massachusetts native signed a two-year, two-way contract with Ottawa in July of 2011. But after only one disappointing 16 point season Butler was placed on the waivers, before being bought out by the club the following July.
Anthony S. Fiore Jr.
The former Hobey Baker finalist rebounded by signing a one year contract with the New Jersey Devils last summer, after the Devils departed with three forwards and found themselves with questions as to who could fill the net with some of the goals they would now be lacking.
“ I’ve always liked to compete on a team that likes to win,” Butler said of being a part of the Devils organization. “ It’s something that i take pride in . I’m just excited to be a part of an organization that focuses on the team game and winning.”
Butler, who signed a two-way contract in July with New Jersey, attended training camp after a successful first half of his first AHL season in Albany. While he played on the top line alongside Travis Zajac and practiced on the top power play unit, Bobby ultimately was sent back to Albany after Lou Lamoriello deemed he wasn’t ready to stay with the big league club.
It may have been a shortened training camp that determined Butlers fate, delaying his return to the NHL where he has 37 points in 94 games, but Butler seem’s to be taking things in stride and approaching his time in the AHL as “everything happens for a reason”. When asked about the fact that he didn’t make the team, a laid back Butler responded “ I just focus on me and what I can control. There isn’t a lot you can control.”
Bobby Butler was named to the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic roster and later on was voted in by fans as a starting winger for the Eastern Conference team. It was Butlers second All-Star appearance and was named the games Most Valuable Player when he took part in the event in 2011. Butler was still in New Jersey when he heard that he was once again named to the All-Star roster and admits it “may have crossed his mind” that he might not actually be taking part in it because he would be playing for Coach DeBoer instead.
NOTES: With Mattias Tedenby back in Albany and Cam Janssen being placed on waivers earlier Wednesday afternoon, it wouldn’t be a shocking move for the Devils to bring Butler onto their squad. After a slow start, Butler seems to have adapted to the Devils system and now leads Albany with 16 goals and 10 assists.”