By Jason Shaya
The leading scorer for the Springfield Indians on the Calder Cup winning team during the 1989-1990 season was a player called Mike Walsh. He put up a team high 34 goals and 20 assists for 54 points in 69 games on a pretty good team. Sure, they won the Calder Cup, but they also had two members who are currently NHL General Managers including Tom Fitzgerald of the New Jersey Devils and Kevin Cheveldayoff of the Winnipeg Jets. Not to mention other future NHL personnel Jack Capuano (Associate Head Coach, Ottawa Senators) and Dean Chynoweth (Assistant Coach, Toronto Maple Leafs), Chris Pryor (Assistant General Manager, Pittsburgh Penguins), Senior Advisor for the Los Angeles Kings, Marc Bergevin…the list goes on.
I am sure what Mike Walsh and others on that team realized is that to be successful at hockey, it takes more than skill. You must think the game. Clearly, players like Fitzgerald, Cheveldayoff, Bergevin and the rest understood the complexities of the game, took that knowledge forward and built highly successful post-playing careers.
You might be wondering, what’s the point of this? Well, Mike Walsh, now the head coach of Proctor Academy, a top-level preparatory school for future NHL talent has a son named Reilly Walsh, the 2017 third round draft pick of the New Jersey Devils. Reilly, the Comets point leader amongst defenseman, is a fantastic combination of elite skill and cerebral playmaking. Last season was a breakout year for the 23-year-old from Massachusetts who took a lot of his cues from his father.
Before he turned pro, Reilly spent three seasons at Harvard University playing alongside the likes of Norris Trophy Winner Adam Fox and former Utica Comets and Vancouver Canucks high profile defenseman Jack Rathbone who knew Walsh had a bright future. “Walshy and I played against each other our entire life and then eventually got the chance to play together at Harvard,” said Rathbone. “He’s a great player and a great guy. He’s got all the tools to be a special player at the NHL level.”
Reilly Walsh was most influenced by the man who carried the Calder Cup around the ice in Springfield in 1990. His dad Mike continues to have a profound influence on Reilly’s life. “My dad has been a major part of my life and career since day one. Living on Proctor Academy’s campus for most of my life gave me very good access to their facilities, and a private coach in my dad,” said Reilly. “Not only has he been very important to my career on the ice, but he’s also been just as crucial if not more with my life off the ice. His experiences with hockey allowed him to give me advice on almost every situation I’ve seen so far, and I am very thankful for the help.”
Reilly made his NHL debut towards the end of the last regular season. That gave him the inspiration to be even better for the upcoming year. “Making my NHL debut this spring was all that I imagined it being and much more. I was thankful that my mom and dad were able to make it to the game and I was able to share the experience with them,” remarked Reilly. “It’s been an amazing journey to get to that point and I am looking forward to using that experience to earn a full-time spot with the Devils this upcoming season. I think that the confidence and almost relief of getting the first game under my belt will allow me to play my game at the next level and be able to help the team win. I am super excited for the start of next season and am very motivated with earning a spot with the big club.”
Walsh is more than prepared to make next season the best season of his career. Like his father, Reilly understands the effort it takes to perform at a high level. As he completes his Harvard degree in the off-season, he’s trains hard on the ice as well in the hopes that next season will be a turning point that paves the road to future NHL success