by Todd Crocker | AHL On The Beat Archive
The folks at Expedia might want to contact Mark Arcobello about coming to work for them after his hockey career.
Flight and hotel? Rental cars? Things to do? The Toronto Marlies center covered it all last season. He shares a record that sounds dubious but upon reflection tells a fan how difficult it is to not only make the NHL and stay in the NHL but stay with one club.
Five years ago, Mark Arcobello was finishing up with the Yale Bulldogs and giving pro hockey a chance with the Edmonton Oilers, who placed the talented goal-scorer with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL.
"Immediate impact" is an understatement. His ECHL All-Star Game MVP award pushed him onto the roster of the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons and under the watchful development eye of head coach Todd Nelson.
Nelson’s assessment — that Arcobello quickly figured out the pace of the game and adjusted — has been true at each level he played. Arcobello is familiar with not taking a mini-vacation come All-Star weekend and traveling to the skills competition and game.
In the first game after he was sent to the Marlies from the Maple Leafs earlier this season, the Milford, Conn., native wasted no time trying to show there might have been a mistake made. In Albany he shouldered the team and potted the game-tying goal, then in OT snagged the winner. Three days later in Hartford, he had the game’s first goal which was also the eventual game winner. Then for good measure he dropped one in on a shootout two days later in Utica, which also proved to be the difference in another Toronto victory.
The Marlies’ record since Arcobello joined the team has been a November storm. He showed up on the first of the month and the team has only one loss (in OT) in nine games since. Twelve points in nine games, including a seven-game scoring streak. For the speedy center, he is as good at deflection as they come.
“The guys on this team are talented,” Arcobello said. “We’re stacked with talent and that makes it easier.”
There is a level of comfort you see in his game at this level. He anticipates well, has vision that matches his speed and seems highly focused. Except it isn’t comfort at all.
“I’d say it’s a confidence,” Arcobello said. ”I know the player I can be in this league.”
If that is what confidence looks like, teams better start adding confidence coaches to the expanding roster of helpers players have access to in professional hockey.
The folks at the giant travel website might want to show off Arcobello on the golf page, too, as his game has found a very golf-like recognition. The old links mantra — You don’t play golf to relax, you relax to play golf — seems to fit.
“When I got to Arizona I just relaxed in my game,” Arcobello recalled. “I just thought, ‘Well, this is one more opportunity,’ and I just relaxed and I think I had some success there.”
Sixteen points in 27 games. Conclusions like that you don’t draw in pencil. The Maple Leafs noticed and signed Arcobello to a team in transition. That leads to the teams of transition that populated a wicked year of travel.
In 2014-15, Arcobello joined two other players (Dennis O’Brien and Dave McIlwain) as players who skated for four NHL teams in one season.
First, the Oilers traded him to Nashville for Derek Roy. Arcobello promptly scored, but was placed on waivers four games later.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, who were so banged up they were sleeping at night with the waiver wire dinging in their dreams, grabbed Arcobello. It wasn’t long though as he went back on the wire again and finished the season with Arizona, totaling 17 goals and 14 assists in 77 NHL games for four organizations. No doubt Arcobello thought the next call might be from the dot-com dream planners.
“You can’t complain,” he said. “You’re doing something you love. And for me, I’m just one guy who has to move all those places. All the flights, hotels, rental cars, getting rides to the rink, where things are, all the people close to you trying to understand too…it isn’t easy, I can only imagine how a guy who has to pack up or leave behind his wife and kids would manage it all.”
Arcobello seems undeterred. Rolling with what is happening, all the while applying some invisible drive force that keeps good hockey people watching him.
A really rough translation of Arcobello might be beautiful shot (beautiful bow and arrow might be more accurate), and if the points keep piling up as they have been he’ll likely get another one. If it comes this year, in this organization, the only travel involved in moving from the Toronto Marlies back to the Toronto Maple Leafs will be across the hall at the practice rink.
Expedia will have to be disappointed.