At age 29, the focus is on the NHL.
Brandon Segal has logged 102 NHL games, including 10 with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. When the right winger signed as a free agent with the Rangers over the summer, he hoped to challenge for a job in New York.
Connecticut Whale uniform and skating in a familiar place. Since making his professional debut with the Milwaukee Admirals during the 2003-04 season, Segal has played 525 games in the American Hockey League.
So he’s happy holding down a job in the AHL, providing grit and leadership for the Whale. In nine games, he has four goals and six points while skating on a line with young prospects (Kyle Jean, Marek Hrivik, Chris Kreider).
“I love being the leader on the team,” Segal said Wednesday. “It’s fun being the older guy and having the young guys look up to you. I’ve got a lot of experience. They’re all good guys and it’s fun to play with them. We’ve got a lot of youth on this team, a lot of energy … it keeps you young.”
Segal is at a different place in life than many of his young teammates. His wife Melissa Rae Barrie, a Canadian country singer, is four-months pregnant and Segal is preparing for fatherhood while settling into life in Greater Hartford.
So his life away from the rink is considerably different than his teammates in their early 20s.
“But we have a really good team here, a really good group of guys,” Segal said,. “I’ve been through it all. I used to be young like these kids here … so, yeah, I can help them. But they’re all really respectful and easy going. It’s a close group.”
When Whale fans saw Segal last spring, he was playing for eventual Calder Cup champion Norfolk in the playoffs. Segal was traded by Chicago to Tampa Bay in February, moving from Rockford to Norfolk in the AHL.
He spent time with Tampa, but wound up with Norfolk during the playoffs. Norfolk ended the regular season with a 28-game winning streak and won 15 of 18 in the playoffs, including the final 10 in a row. The Whale took the Admirals to six games in their series, the only challenge in the playoffs.
“Honestly, it’s probably the best team, for sure, that I’ve ever been part of,” said Segal, who had nine points in the playoffs. “ It was unbelievable. … We knew every night that were going to win that game. We had a tough run against Connecticut in that series, but I always bug the guys here and tell them, ‘We knew we were going to win.’ They battled hard and it was a great series, but we knew deep down inside that we were going to win.”
Segal (6 feet 2, 210 pounds) was originally drafted by Nashville and has been property of seven NHL organizations. He played 46 games of the Dallas Stars in 2010-11 after playing 44 (25 with the Los Angeles Kings, 19 with Dallas) the season before.
He talked to a few teams over the summer and studied the Rangers’ depth chart before choosing New York.
“ thought this was a great opportunity and a great fit,” Segal said. “I looked at the placement of where I sit and my chances of getting back up to the NHL and felt this was a perfect opportunity.
That’s what I’m trying to do, come down here and hopefully the NHL gets it going here soon and I can get right back up.”
Brandon Segal's Journey To Hartford
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