CRANBERRY – Maybe Jack St. Ivany never got a satisfactory explanation for why Philadelphia refused to sign him after his senior season at Boston College.
Or maybe he just isn’t interested in sharing what the Flyers have told him.
Whatever the reason, St. Ivany, a defenseman who signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins five days after the Flyers waived his rights, made it clear after the first day of rookie camp Thursday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex that he was not inclined to return to this chapter of his career.
“I’m ready to move on from (Philadelphia’s decision),” he said. “I’m happy to be in Pittsburgh.”
And early indications are that the Penguins are happy to have him, as St. Ivany’s first impression in camp has been good.
“I really liked what I saw today,” said Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach JD Forrest, who leads rookie camp.
No surprise there, considering St. Ivany is a good size (6-foot-3, 201 pounds) and seems to possess pretty solid fundamentals.
Forrest spoke favorably of “St Ivany’s ability to skate, his ability to move the puck…he’s got a certain size, a certain length.
Other clubs were also aware of St. Ivany’s vital stats and skill set when the Flyers released him, and he said “a handful of teams” were interested in signing him.
He moved to the Penguins, at least in part, because Ron Hextall had been Philadelphia’s general manager when he was drafted, and St. Ivany also knows assistant general manager Chris Pryor and some Penguins scouts who were then with the Flyers.
“It was just a perfect fit for me,” he said.
St. Ivany played two years at Yale before transferring to Boston College. He arrived in BC long after Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin turned pro, but he’s well aware of what Dumoulin has accomplished in the NHL and sees him as a role model of sorts.
“I had never met him, but when I was there…he was a really good defender and a great defender to know,” St. Ivany said. “They were showing us teaching clips of him, and I got to meet him the other day.
“I’d like to emulate a lot of his game. He’s a simple defender, but he’s really effective. A lot of the video clips they show us showing him making simple plays, fending off the rush. If I can be the defender that he is, I will be very happy.”
Maybe he and Dumoulin will even be teammates one day, but St. Ivany’s immediate challenge is making the transition from college hockey to professional hockey.
“When you take it to the next level, it’s bigger guys, stronger guys and faster play,” he said. “It’s going to be a little adjustment period, but I’ve had a good summer of training, so I’m ready to take that leap.”
Regardless of St. Ivany’s performance at this rookie camp, as well as regular camp starting next Thursday, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he would avoid an apprenticeship in the American Hockey League. Still, St. Ivany said franchise decision makers have advised that the major league roster is yet to be finalized.
“The message coming into camp was, ‘Just play your best,’ he said. “They’re going to take the best defenders available. Obviously there are guys here who have been here and have won and who have great experience.
“For me, coming to camp, it’s just going to be about learning from these guys and focusing on my game and being the best player I can be and hopefully competing for some of these spots.”
If St. Ivany can somehow do that over the next few weeks, which is a lot to expect from a young player, it would certainly send a message across the Commonwealth to the team that has determined he won’t. there was no place for him in his future. .
It would also give the Pittsburgh Penguins front office reason to be as happy to have him on the payroll as St. Ivany seems to be to have a spot there.
“The organization is top notch,” he said. “They have a winning culture here. I’m really excited to be part of it.