By Justin Skelnik | Photos by Ross Dettman
Chicago Wolves rookie forward Michael Davies has had a knack for proving people wrong throughout his entire hockey career.
For as long as he could remember, Davies was always told he wouldn’t achieve success as a hockey player beyond the youth leagues he played in growing up in St. Louis. Those doubters are what has helped fuel him to get where he is today.
“Growing up, I was always told I wasn’t going to make it in hockey,” Davies said. “I was told I wouldn’t be able to play in juniors because of my size, but I made it to juniors. Then, while I was playing juniors, I was told I would never play at the college level. But I earned a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin and now I am playing pro hockey. I have been a big believer in the phrase, ‘never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
Davies capped a four-year career with Wisconsin last season with a career-high 52 points (20G, 32A) and an appearance in the NCAA National Championship game. After his Badgers fell to Boston College on April 10, 2010, Davies was offered Amateur Tryout Contracts by a couple American Hockey League clubs, including the Wolves, but decided to sign with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
“I knew that before I turned pro, I wanted to have at least one game under my belt to know what I was getting into and to see what the world of pro hockey was like,” Davies said. “The Wolves weren’t guaranteeing me any playing time and Bridgeport was, so I signed with them. My agent told me that it might be good to go see what it was like out east, so I went out there.”
He skated in three Calder Cup playoff games with Bridgeport before the Hershey Bears eliminated the Sound Tigers. Despite the fact that his time in Bridgeport was brief, the experience Davies gained made a big impact on his preparation for his rookie season.
“The games I played in Bridgeport definitely helped me get a good feel for what the pro game was like both on and off the ice,” Davies said. “I got to see where I was from a skill and strength standpoint and what I had to do in the offseason to get myself to the pro level. It was also good to see how serious the players take the game since it is their career and how to act like a professional.”
Wolves General Manager Wendell Young was eager to get Davies to sign with the Wolves this past summer. Young believed that Davies flew under the radar and was overlooked in college due to his size, but that he could develop into a special player with the Wolves.
“We like players like Michael Davies,” Young said. “He was a kid who was the second-leading scorer for Wisconsin and when you do that in a great program like Wisconsin, that is saying something no matter what you look like physically. I enjoy bringing players in that may not draw attention from other teams and making them one of ours.
“I also like players who come from college because their transition to the pro lifestyle is easier and is one less thing for rookies to worry about. He has handled everything thrown at him and he has exceeded all of my expectations.”
Despite Young’s glowing review, Davies still found himself sent down to the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators at the start of the season, but his stay in Gwinnett would only last a month. He was recalled by Chicago in early November and has stuck with the club ever since.
Davies’ rookie season seemed to be racing along smoothly once he got back with the Wolves. He had posted eight goals and 18 points in 36 games with the team and was a regular fixture in the lineup. Then, on Feb. 5, his rookie season hit a speed bump. During a game against the Peoria Rivermen, Davies was hit awkwardly and suffered an upper body injury that required him to miss a month of game time. Being injured was something new to him and at first he didn’t quite know how to deal with it.
“The injury I suffered in February was the first time I missed game time due to an injury throughout my whole career,” Davies said. “At first, it was very tough to deal with. I immediately feared the worst and worried that this injury would have an effect on my career.
“After talking to our trainers and some of my teammates who had the same injury, I realized I would be ok. It was still hard not to be able to skate with my teammates, so I just had to make sure I stayed positive and kept telling myself I would get back on the ice soon.”
While he was rehabbing his injury, Davies kept himself busy by entertaining his friends and followers via Twitter. He admits that he only joined Twitter to see what celebrities were doing and to get breaking news from professional sports teams. Then, most of his friends joined and he was hooked.
“There is not much to do once you leave the rink and Twitter is something that just keeps me occupied, especially when I was injured,” Davies said. “My friends and I keep in contact through it and it gives the fans a glimpse into my life. Fans in Chicago ask me about my Twitter account all the time. It is pretty cool that the fans care that much about you to follow you.”
After missing 10 games, Davies returned to the Wolves lineup on March 6. With his injury behind him and his name on the Wolves Clear Day roster, he has one goal, and that is doing anything he can to help Chicago make the playoffs.
“Now that I am fully healthy and back in the lineup, I am just trying to help the team make a run at the playoffs,” Davies said. “I am at the point where I have played way more hockey than I am used to in one season. I am just taking it one day at a time. I’m working hard and trying to make sure I leave everything I have on the ice in order to help the team succeed. This whole experience will help me down the road as I continue to develop throughout my pro career.”
No matter what personal and team success Davies achieves with the Wolves this season, he knows there are still people out there doubting his ability to sustain a successful pro career. He knows there is only one thing that will finally put the doubters to rest.
“Every time I take the ice, I am trying to prove people wrong,” Davies said. ”I am working hard every day with one goal in mind and that is to make it to the National Hockey League. I am just hopeful to get that one shot, one game in the NHL, so I could be able to go back to St. Louis and just show the people that said I was too small to play or achieve success that I made it.”