Scouting the Pack: Steven Fogarty leading the way
When it was announced that Steven Fogarty was named the 12th captain of the Hartford Wolf Pack on October 3, 2019, the coaching staff along with many fans felt that Kris Knoblauch and his coaches had made the right choice. Having served as captain for Notre Dame and as alternate captain in Hartford since the last half of the 2017-18 season, it was clear that he was capable of taking the role of captain.
Many thought that Fogarty would be a prime candidate to compete for a spot with the Rangers during training camp and while he got into one game, September, 20th against New Jersey where he didn’t register any points, he was sent down to Hartford a week later after clearing waivers. After being named captain, Fogarty and the Wolf Pack opened the season with a weekend set against the defending champion Charlotte Checkers and in state rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Having posted an assist in each game, it seemed as though Foges had picked up where he left off last season. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be over the next couple of weeks afterwards.
With most of the offense focused around Filip Chytil and Danny O’Regan during the first month of the season, Fogarty went through a slump that saw him go scoreless in the following 6 games after opening weekend where after 8 games he had collected only the 2 opening weekend assists going even, picking up 6 PIM with 12 SOG. While no one was too worried about such a slow start, some began to question whether the captaincy was weighing on Fogarty and was putting too much pressure on him.
Such was the case with Joe Whitney during the 2017-18 season, a very skilled player by AHL standards and someone who played very well against the Wolf Pack especially. After being named captain for the 2017-18 season, Whitney played 40 games netting 9 goals and 10 assists for 19 points at a -12 while also being a healthy scratch for several games due to the AHL’s veteran rule which requires that of 18 skaters, 12 must have played less than 260 pro games and one with less than 320 games of professional experience. Whitney ended up finishing that season with the Hershey Bears after being traded with Adam Chapie in exchange for forward John Albert and defenseman Hubert Labrie.
Picking up the scoring slack
With Filip Chytil being called up to New York after the October 27th game against Bridgeport, coincidently the game where Steven Fogarty netted his first goal of the season, it was clear that some people needed to step up to fill the void that would be left by Chytil. Since then, Fogarty has been one of the few that have stepped up. Including that 2-1 OT win over Bridgeport, Fogarty has since seen a run of picking up at least a point in 12 of the next 17 games. This recent streak has seen Fogarty take the team lead in points with 21, tie with Vinni Lettieri for the team lead in goals at 9 and tie Danny O’Regan for the team lead in assists at 12 with very little signs of slowing down.
This play as of late has seen Fogarty play mostly on the 2nd line to the left of Lias Andersson and with Matt Beleskey on the right wing. Fogarty has also seen significant PP time and has been one of the Wolf Pack’s best penalty killers since making his debut on April 1st, 2016. Fogarty’s play has also seemed to help Lias Andersson a little as he put together a nice 3 point effort (2G, 1A) against the Devils also this past Saturday. While Lias hasn’t found the score sheet in all of the 8 games he’s played with the Pack this season, his confidence seems to be growing game by game and is on the verge of a breakout and Steven Fogarty deserves some credit for any improvement for Lias Andersson.
Walking the Gernander Path
Historically, since the retirement of long time Wolf Pack captain Ken Gernander, there has been little stability in terms of naming a captain and said player remaining with the team for an extended period of time. That’s something that myself and many other Wolf Pack fans refer to as The Captain’s Curse. During our Season Ticket Holder Skate With the Team this past season, which occurred less than a week after the Rangers had traded then-captain Cole Schneider to Nashville for Connor Brickley, many of us who talked to Fogarty jokingly said that if offered the captaincy that he should turn it down for no other reason than to not see him become a victim of this so called Captain’s Curse.
While it’s too early to tell what the future holds for Steven Fogarty with the Rangers organization, all indications still point to him being a key player here in Hartford and what better player to lead this team to bigger and better things