By Bill Keefe
Cam Darcy wasn’t himself for much of last season.
As with any player that goes to the U.S. National Team Development program, there is an adjustment to living away, the intense training and stepping up to play against older competition in the USHL.
On top of that, though, Darcy was dealing with mononucleosis, a thyroid problem and bothersome tonsils that were taken out after the season. He said he often felt drained and sluggish.
Despite being less than 100 percent, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound center from South Boston, Mass., and Dexter School still made a solid impression on the hockey world.
Darcy tied for fourth on the U.S. Under-17 team with 14 goals and added seven assists in 54 games. He led all skaters with four goals in three games as the United States captured the Vlad Dzurilla Tournament in Slovakia.
“The upside with Cam is pretty good,” said Danton Cole, Darcy’s coach on the Under-17s and again this season for the Under-18s. “He’s very fast; he’s one of the faster guys on the team. He plays with a real good edge and he competes. He has really good skills and can make high-end plays. He brings a lot offensively and defensively, he’s been real good.”
Darcy was recognized with a spot on the ‘A’ list of NHL Central Scouting’s watch list, meaning he is a potential top-round pick in the 2012 draft. He also was selected as one of 36 top prospects to participate in the NHL Research, Development and Orientation (RDO) Camp held near Toronto in August.
Imagine what he is capable of this season at full strength.
“Hopefully, this one will be better,” Darcy said. “I should be healthier, and it’s the second year. I have a whole year of playing in the USHL under my belt. I’m more settled in, and I feel more energized.”
Darcy said the mono wasn’t diagnosed until after the fact meaning he played through it. After he had his tonsils out, he said, he lost 15 pounds but put it back on working out with Brian McDonough at Foxboro Sports Center.
The summer also brought change in terms of Darcy’s college plans. He had verbally committed to Northeastern for the fall of 2013, but when head coach Greg Cronin (Arlington, Mass.) left for an assistant’s job with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Darcy reconsidered. He visited Boston College on Sept. 17 with Under-18 teammates Brendan Silk (Wakefield, Mass.) and Frankie Vatrano (East Longmeadow, Mass.), both of whom are committed to the Eagles. His other local buddy and teammate, Matt Grzelcyk (Charlestown, Mass.), is heading to Boston University and making the push for Darcy to be a Terrier.
“I liked the way Cronin was talking, and I liked (assistant coaches) Albie (O’Connell) and Sebastien (Laplante),” Darcy said. “I didn’t know too much else. I was there because of them.
“I’m keeping all my options open. I’m not trying to choose between any two. Being from Boston, those are high choices on my list.”
Darcy added that he had recently spoken to coaches from North Dakota as well.
Not that he needed exposure, but he certainly got more of it at the NHL RDO Camp, operated under the direction of league vice president Brendan Shanahan where potential rule alterations are tried out. Dougie Hamilton, the Bruins’ 2011 first-round pick, participated in the camp last year.
Darcy said he was so focused on playing that the rule change experiments didn’t faze him. He remembered one scenario where if a player was face first against the boards, the attacking player could bear hug him, supposedly as a way to avoid hitting-from-behind infractions.
Even there, Darcy couldn’t escape ailment. The day before he went, he scratched his cornea. During warmups for his first game, Darcy couldn’t open his eye but played after getting a contact lens from a trainer. A doctor sat him out the second game before he came back for a third with a contact.
Still, he said it was a good experience.
“The second overall pick last year (Gabriel Landeskog) talked to the group,” Darcy said. “All the kids were great kids, down to earth. We all got along. Everyone clicked on the ice pretty quickly because it was such a talented group.”
With the attention he has been getting, it’s difficult to
ignore the hype and pressure of draft year, but Darcy tries to keep
it in perspective.
“It’s going to be nerve wracking, but I’m trying to have fun with it,” Darcy said. “I can’t control anything. I never look at the rankings. The rankings don’t matter until after the draft happens.
“It’s pretty much everything I ever wanted since I was a little kid. I try not to think about anything. It’s nice to say you’re committed and getting looked at, but I never talk about it or let it get to me. It could all change. There are so many talented players out there. I could always fall off. Someone else could be working harder. I never try to get too high. On the ice, off the ice and away from the rink, I work at it 24 hours a day, how I eat, how I sleep.”
This means Darcy will continue to work on his all-around game.
“Coach Cole wanted me to work away from the puck a lot more and that’s going to create opportunities,” Darcy said. “I listened to him and it helps a lot. I realized how much harder I have to work away from the puck and then I started putting points up. It was really good for my game.”
Coming from a family where his father and three brothers are between 6-foot-2 and 6-5, Darcy still may have some growing left, which will only add to his evolution into a power forward.
“He’s got a great chance to play hockey for a long time,” Cole said. “I’m really excited four years from now to see where these ‘94s go at pro camps. Keep focusing on today, work hard and it will come.”
Peter Ward (Waltham, Mass.) has been promoted to director of player personnel for the U.S. National Team Development Program. He had served as assistant director for the past three years.
Ward has served as the director of central scouting for the QMJHL and has coached with the South Shore Kings, New England Junior Huskies, Walpole Express and Thayer Academy. He is the owner and operator of the Beantown Bullies program and tournament teams. …
Chris Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) emerged from camp as one of the two goalies the Nanaimo Clippers will carry in their British Columbia Hockey League season. Clippers general manager Mike Vandekamp told the Nanaimo News Bulletin that he expected the pair to play as a tandem, rather than as a No. 1 and a backup. Eiserman, committed to UMass-Lowell for next year, played for the Tri-City Storm, the Valley Junior Warriors and Amarillo Bulls last season. …
Former Boston Bruins goalie John Grahame is the new goaltending coach for the Sioux City Musketeers. …
The Dallas Stars returned former Northeastern defenseman and their first-round pick in 2011, Jamie Oleksiak, to his junior team, the Saginaw Spirit (OHL). …
The Northern Cyclones are hosting an Atlantic Junior Hockey League and Metropolitan Junior Hockey League showcase Oct. 7-10 in Hudson, N.H. …
The New Hampshire Junior Monarchs host an EJHL showcase Oct. 21-23 in Hooksett, N.H.
This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue of New England Hockey Journal. Bill Keefe can be reached at email@example.com.