ALBANY, NY — On the Albany Devils active roster, no player has played in more NHL games than Rod Pelley.
In a career that has spanned nearly a decade, Pelley has appeared in 256 NHL games. Now, Pelley is using that experience at the game’s highest level to lead an Albany Devils team that has quickly risen to the near-top of the AHL standings.
Pelley said this current Albany team is the best AHL team he has been a part of, and there is still room to get better.
“I think there’s room to grow,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to continue to do, work every day and get better every day.”
For Pelley, hard work is the reason he was named captain of the Devils before the 2013-14 season and has held the position since.
“I would consider myself detailed, hardworking, and competitive,” Pelley said. “Just being an all around consistent player for the guys.”
“For me, it was an easy decision because I knew him a little bit as a person when he was in New Jersey,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalksy of naming Pelley captain. “Once you see how he operates on and off the ice, he’s a character guy, he’s a class act, and he’s an easy guy to follow.”
Being the captain is a big responsibility for Pelley, and it entails a very wide range of responsibilities.
“I’m essentially an extension of the coaching staff in the room,” Pelley said. “Keep everyone on the same page and keep everyone pulling the rope the same way is what I’m trying to do.”
His coach agrees with that captain’s duty.
“He’s a guy that I can trust in the room and I don’t have to be in there. He’s a guy that’s relaying our message,” Kowalsky said of Pelley. “Those leaders are really an extension of the coaching staff and if they’re not on board with what you’re doing, you’re not going to have success.”
Earlier in his career, Pelley spent time with the New Jersey Devils. During that span, he has played with All-Stars and potential Hall of Famers, who have showed him how to be a professional.
Specifically, he recalls playing with future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, as well as All-Stars Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk among other players.
“Just being around certain individuals over the course of those NHL games, guys like that, where you watch these guys everyday and you realize why they have such lengthy NHL careers and are successful,” Pelley said. “It’s amazing.”
Pelley has used those lessons to lead the Devils to second place in the North Division with 52 points as the Devils look to make the playoffs for the second time during his three seasons as captain.
“It’s the most depth I’ve seen on an American League team,” Pelley said of his current team. “The young guys are very good players, everyone has a different role on the team.”
Although the Devils had their record 11-game home winning streak snapped on Wednesday night, they will look to start a new one with a pair of weekend home games against the St. John’s IceCaps.
Saturday afternoon’s game is “Rod Pelley Bobblehead Day,” and the captain is happy with his likeness on the giveaway.
“I’ve got a wicked tan in it, it must be a summer picture,” Pelley joked. “But it’s going to be a fun night and I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game are on sale at the Times Union Center box office or at any Ticketmaster outlet. Fans can also buy tickets via charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 or online at ticketmaster.com.