Binghamton Senators goalie Marc Cheverie got a taste of the American Hockey League last year in Portland, and now that a new season is upon the horizon, he’s thirsty for more.
Even though he’s not currently the property of an NHL organization, that doesn’t mean teams aren’t tracking his progress.
Photo Copyright: Justin Goldman – The Goalie Guild
After bouncing around from Gwinnett to Portland last season, and then getting traded to Pittsburgh only to be left unsigned, Cheverie was more than happy to join forces with a team that truly wanted him. Needing to improve their depth behind Robin Lehner and Nathan Lawson, Marc agreed to a new one-year AHL contract back on September 6.
While he’s likely to begin this season in the ECHL with Elmira, that’s not stopping “Chevy” from driving hard towards his goal of breaking through a team’s depth chart and becoming a full-time AHL goaltender.
Knowing he has the intelligence and ability to thrive in the AHL, I caught up with Cheverie on Tuesday afternoon and got his thoughts on a few topics before he heads into training camp this weekend. Below is a transcript of our chat.
JG: I remember when we talked two years ago in Denver, you were working your way up Florida’s depth chart, and you mentioned how there’s always five or six goalies you battle with for opportunities at the pro level. So how does that same idea relate to you in Binghamton?
MC: “Yeah, I mean that’s the way it’s always been for me. You can’t be delusional, and you need to know where you are on the depth chart. But you also have to realize there’s always an opportunity to move up or even move down, so you always have to perform. Anything can happen and I’ve seen it; the depth chart changes every day, so you have to perform every day. Even if you’re signed or under contract by an NHL club, if you’re not performing, they’ll get someone else. There are so many veteran guys without contracts right now that would love to step into an American league deal a week or two into training camp, so you’re always in a battle. This year is going to be even tougher for goalies than any other just because there are so many guys without contracts that are just waiting for an injury, or for a team to be struggling.”
JG: What was last season like for you, kind of bouncing around a little bit at the end there? Were you frustrated to a point where you felt it affected your game, or do you feel like you battled through it?
MC: “I mean there’s always been times in my career where it has been more frustrating than others. Sometimes you’re not getting the opportunity you wish you were getting. Last year was really tough when I moved up to Portland and then got sent down when they signed Peter [Mannino] there. So that was a really tough situation because I felt that I was playing well, but it was one of those things where they wanted experienced guys, and that’s the way I’ve sort of dealt with it when it comes to playing in the American league. For me it’s kind of hard to get that [AHL] experience because unless you get a chance to play there, it’s tough to be an experienced [AHL] guy. So that was one of the toughest pills to swallow; going up after Christmas and staying there, and then all of a sudden, on the last day you can possibly go down, you get sent down. But it was probably better for me in the long run because I got the opportunity to play in the ECHL playoffs for the first time, and going down and playing well turned out for the best.”
JG: That adversity you faced in Portland, do you feel like it made you mentally tougher and improved your ability to handle that type of frustration?
MC: “Yeah. It’s almost like the more I go, I learn pretty quickly how to stay even-keeled and to almost go with the flow. You can’t force things and there’s so many things going on that you just have to take what’s given to you and do the best you can with it. Goaltending is such a different position in the way you manage things that you almost have to let things come to you. You never know when your number is going to be called, and that adversity definitely makes things a little bit easier to deal with, but obviously you hope that with each time it happens less and less, because you’ve already learned what can happen and how well you have to perform day in and day out to get that opportunity, so you don’t want it to slip through your fingers. Things change so much every day that you just never know what is going to happen.”
JG: Have you talked to anyone in the Sens organization about your potential future with the club? I’m seeing more goalies earn these AHL/ECHL contracts [John Muse, Josh Robinson], so I wonder if they have said anything about watching you closely, and opening doors for you to gain a larger role with them?
MC: “Well, that’s the way I’m approaching it. I know that the Senators have seen me play, and some of their staff saw me play in college because I played with Patrick Wiercioch, who is currently in the system there. My agent informed me that they came to me for the deal, they did their research, and I was their guy. It’s always nice to be a known entity when you’re going in, and knowing what the expectations are. But you want to exceed them and hope to continue the relationship with the organization. Besides Robin Lehner and Nathan Lawson, they don’t have anyone else in the pro system right now, so it’s a really good situation to go into, and I’m really looking forward to making the most of it.”
JG: What’s one thing you’ve learned this summer, or one way you feel you improved your game?
MC: “There’s one thing I worked on this summer, and it was my eyes. I was in Vail and I had the chance to work with Steve Valiquette for a few days. He talked about something called The Quiet Eye, which is something that helps you be more relaxed and be able to read shooters, and it includes little techniques about tracking the puck better. It’s kind of hard to explain without writing an essay about it, but those things I felt helped me make huge leaps and bounds with my game. I was better able to track the puck, which helped me all of a sudden be more relaxed in the net. I was making better decisions and things were coming more naturally, and it was just one of those things that snowballed for me all summer. That was the biggest thing for me, the puck-tracking aspect.”
The Goalie Guild would like to extend a special thanks to Cheverie for his time today, and we wish him the best of luck with Binghamton this season. Be sure to follow him on twitter @Chevdawgy, too!