David McIntyre ’10 is living the dream. The former captain of the Colgate men’s hockey team is currently playing for the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League, while anxiously awaiting an eventual call-up to the system’s top team: the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils.
While at Colgate, McIntyre excelled as a member of the ice hockey team. Towards the end of his sophomore season in 2007-2008, McIntyre was a key contributor in the quarterfinal series victory over nationally-ranked Clarkson, which led the eight-seeded Raiders to upset the top-seeded Golden Knights en route to an appearance in the 2008 ECAC Hockey semifinals. In that series, McIntyre scored four goals and added an assist, including the double-overtime game-winner. His exploits earned him Inside College Hockey Player of the Month for March 2008.
It was during his junior season, however, that McIntyre truly exploded and gained national recognition. His team-leading 43 points, off of 21 goals and 22 assists earned him All-ECAC First Team and First Team All-American accolades, as well as being chosen as a top 10 finalist for the prestigious Hobey Baker Memorial Award, college hockey’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. McIntyre was also named by Inside College Hockey as ECAC Player of the Year. Last season, McIntyre finished his Colgate career with 11 goals and 28 assists, bringing his collegiate point total to 131.
The former Raider had a quick start with the New Jersey Devils’ farm team last year, then located in Lowell, MA, after his career at Colgate ended in March. In 17 games, he posted four goals and three assists. He notes, however, that there are significant differences between the college and professional hockey player’s life.
“Professional hockey is a job,” McIntyre said. “Your days are based around doing everything, such as eating healthy, resting and training to give yourself a better edge. This is different from college hockey because when you are a student you have to keep class work at the forefront in order to maintain good grades. In my case at least, this would cause me to concentrate less on dieting and rest during college hockey seasons.”
Despite this season being his first full one as a professional hockey player, McIntyre is already off to a quick start, tied for the team lead in points with two goals and six assists. He does acknowledge, however, that the transition from the college game to the professional one is nowhere near as smooth or easy as many hope it would be.
“Finding things to do in your free time is difficult,” McIntyre said. “Aside from eating properly, getting a lot of rest and working hard on and off the ice, I usually have plenty of time to kill when hockey is done on practice days. At Colgate, spare time was dedicated to homework as opposed to now, as I have the time to base my days around doing dishes, laundry, watching TV and running other errands when I’m not at the rink.”
Despite no longer playing for the team, McIntyre still feels a connection to the Colgate hockey program. He also recognizes that not all in the professional game revolves around the amount of points that you put up, but that defensive play is just as important. He credits his time under the tutelage of men’s hockey Head Coach Don Vaughan as one of the reasons for his early success at the next level.
“My experience with Colgate hockey and Coach Vaughan allowed me to focus on defense first, and gaining my offensive chances off of good defensive coverage,” McIntyre said. “Professional hockey is based around being defensively responsible, so being at Colgate really helped make this transition a lot easier.”
As a rookie, McIntyre has also had the opportunity of playing with people who have been in the system for several years, who have given him good advice on how to adapt himself to the grueling routine of the professional game. The best piece of advice he received, curiously came from someone who knew exactly where he was coming from.
“When I went to Lowell as a rookie at the end of last season, fellow Colgate alum, Cory Murphy [’01], told me that ‘99 percent of the time your instinct is right, so don’t over think and act on your first instinct,'” McIntyre said. “This advice was very helpful for me as it made me realize right away that I belonged, and that what I could do on the ice at Colgate I could also do at the next level.”
He has done just that, as his good start to the season shows. McIntyre has also seen significant time on Albany’s special team units, being a mainstay on the penalty kill and occasionally seeing time on the power play.
One would think that as professional hockey players competing for a spot on the big club, it would be hard to build a strong base of team chemistry in order to put a successful product on the ice. McIntyre, however, does not think that the competition between teammates gets in the way of the collective goal, which is winning the Calder Cup, the AHL Championship.
“At the end of the day, everyone realizes that team camaraderie and hard work is what helps the team win,” McIntyre said. “Although everyone is competing for a job in New Jersey, every guy on the team wants to help the others get better and win a championship.”
Given the New Jersey Devils’ problems with the NHL salary cap this season, as well as their slow start, since they currently sit in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference, it seems that it will be sooner rather than later that McIntyre will get the call to make his childhood dream a reality and play in the NHL. There is no doubt that the coaching staff down in Newark has taken note of his strong start and how quickly he has adapted to professional hockey.