Hickey’s dream realized with the Islanders

Thomas Hickey has one goal and two assists in 31 games with the New York Islanders. (Candice Monhollan)

Thomas Hickey has one goal and two assists in 31 games with the New York Islanders. (Candice Monhollan)

Being born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, it was no surprise that New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey was a Calgary Flames fan.

Not only that, but his favorite player since he was 10 years old was Jarome Iginla.

“If you’re from Calgary, he’s your favorite player,” Hickey said. “That’s how it works.”

Not only is Hickey living his dream of playing in the NHL, but had the opportunity to suit up against his favorite player.

On March 28, Iginla was traded from the Flames to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He made his debut with the Penguins two days later – against the Islanders.

“The idea was ‘I hope he stays in the West,’ but at the same time, for me, it would be special to play against him,” Hickey said. “I’ve seen him play probably a couple dozen times live.”

The Islanders may have lost 2-0 in the game, but playing against Iginla was another memorable moment in Hickey’s career.

The 24 year old was drafted fourth overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings.

It was something he wasn’t expecting to happen.

“I didn’t think I’d be picked [sitting in the arena],” Hickey said. “To be a part of that was a special day and definitely one to remember for a long time.”

Once he reached the NHL when the lockout ended, it took him just 10 games to score his first goal, and a game winner at that.

“[It’s] a special place to do it in Montreal,” Hickey said. “My father was in the stands. Everything just happened really quickly. I’m thankful things played out the way they did.”

It hasn’t always been an easy road for the young defenseman.

After being drafted by the Kings, he spent all of his time with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL.

“Any guy will tell you they don’t want to be down there, but obviously it helps you when you’re playing hockey at the next highest level,” Hickey said. “You learn more playing at the highest level, but I certainly understand that being down there helped my game grow quite a bit.”

Hickey played in 212 games with the Monarchs from the end of the 2009 season until the lockout ended this year and tallied 14 goals and 61 assists for 75 points.

After the years spent in the Kings organization and even being re-signed to a one-year deal over the summer, Hickey was never able to crack the lineup and with the NHL lockout coming to an end, he was waived on Jan. 25.

“We had a game and we’re on the bus on the way to Providence and they told me that I had to clear waivers,” Hickey said. “I wasn’t able to play in that game. I got a phone call and they said at noon you’ll find out.”

It was a nerve-wracking experience for the him. The hours ticked away while he waited to find out what would happen and where he would end up.

“I waited until noon the next day, hopeful that I’d get a good phone call and that phone call came,” Hickey said. “I wanted to catch a break and I’m fortunate they took a chance on me [in New York]. I’m grateful for that.”

Hickey immediately joined the Islanders training camp and made his NHL debut Feb. 21 against the Winnipeg Jets.

Lubomir Visnovsky, a veteran of 12 NHL seasons, has assisted Hickey along the way as his defense partner.

“He is a rookie and I try to help him,” Visnovsky said. “He’s a good player. Sometime he plays like he’s had 10 years in the NHL. He tries to always be in a good position and it’s very fun to play with him.”

Though he has finally reached his dream of playing in the NHL, Hickey has been careful not to get caught up in the excitement.

I’ve been to training camp many times and dealt with [it],” Hickey said. “It was just, ‘Hey, there’s no time to be nervous.’ You’ve got to play and you’ve got to earn a job. It’s something I’ve been waiting for for a long time.”


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Categories: Features, Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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