Comets Tales: Sven Baertschi
by Don LaibleApr 8, 2015
With just 30 days of service with the Utica Comets in the books, Sven Baertschi has become a must-see hockey show.
After a 5-1 win over the Rochester Americans at The AUD on April 1, a game in which Baertschi scored two goals, the Vancouver Canucks’ leadership had seen enough. With President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden and General Manager Jim Benning visiting the Mohawk Valley, they saw all what they needed to see of the 22-year-old Swiss.
Hours after the Comets’ 42nd victory on the season, Baertschi received word Vancouver recalled him. On the night the team clinched their first-ever playoff spot, one of their best skilled players packed his bags again. As the Comets’ bus pulled out of The AUD’s parking lot for their last trip to Hamilton for the final meeting with the Bulldogs at the First Ontario Centre, there was one empty seat.
Although he was in the line-up for the Canucks-Jets game in Winnipeg, Baertschi is still eligible for AHL post-season play. Since coming over from the Calgary Flames’ organization on March 2, it has been a win-win situation for Baertschi and the Comets.
“It has been awesome,” said Baertschi who is the top draft pick of Calgary in 2011. “The day that I got here, I felt accepted into the group. I am surrounded here (Utica) by really successful players. It’s less about the forecheck. We find ways to get puck possession.”
Since Baertschi’s impact for the Comets in his first game (an assist on March 4), fans knew they had someone special in the line-up. Management already knew this. As he traveled late into the night on April 2 to Vancouver, Baertschi left his teammates of one month in a better place, as they prepare for Calder Cup playoffs.
There was an eight-game winning streak (stretched to 10 games with a win over Hamilton on April 7) in which Baertschi contributed. He racked up 13 points in skating in a dozen games for the Comets. During this period, the team jetted to a 10-1-1-0 record.
Having Cory Conacher join the team the same day, Baertschi was an offensive threat other teams just could not ignore. Just as he faced the media after practice in Rogers Arena, settling in to his new environment will take some time for Baertschi.
“I was on the phone for six hours straight; from 3:15(pm) on,” Baertschi said about the day he learned of being traded. “I packed up and drove to Utica. There was no time to let it settle in. I left (Glens Falls) right away. It was a unique day.”
During the week, Baertschi played his final game as an Adirondack Flame (Feb. 28) at home against the Toronto Marlies in which he tallied an assist in a 5-2 loss. A day earlier, he experienced a 4-0 win over the Comets. No one could predict that Baertschi would be “on loan” for just 30 days.
Baertschi’s performances as a Comet have proven to be a steal for the price the Canucks paid – acquired from Calgary for a second-round pick in this June’s NHL entry draft. Thus far, this season has been split with 15 games in Calgary, 36 for Adirondack, 12 as a Comet, and 1 (and counting) suiting up for the Canucks.
Although Utica fans and teammates didn’t want to lose Baertschi from their line-up, that is what is supposed to happen for players in the AHL. The door’s always open for the speedy right wing regardless if Utica barely knew Baertschi.