Jack Rodewald has ball on road to NHL

Author: Don Brennan, Ottawa Sun
Date: Oct 31, 2017

Jack Rodewald is already the toughest Senator of all-time, and he hasn’t even played a regular season game for them yet.

The 23-year-old winger from Winnipeg earned that reputation the first time he represented the team in a rookie tournament two summers ago.

Rodewald played through an injury that would make most grown men weep.

“A broken ball?,” I asked him for clarification Thursday morning.

“Broken ball,” repeated Rodewald, before going all medical. “Fractured testicle.”

You know which term sounds worse?


I almost passed out just writing about this.

Rodewald was blocking a defencemen’s shot from the point when he says he “got it in a spot where no guy wants to get hit.”

We’ve all been there. We’ve all been bagged at one point in our lives. It’s a horrific feeling. Your eyes water. You lose your breath. You wish to die.

When somebody tries to bounce you off the ground to put them back in place, you want to say “get the hell away” but you can’t talk.

What Rodewald went through, well, this sounds so much worse.

“It was worse,” said our Superhero. “I wear a jock. I’ve got a big one now.”

Amazingly, he threw up zero times.

“Looking back on it, I should have been in more pain,” said Rodewald. “But there was a lot of adrenalin going. It was the first game. I stuck with it. Finished the game and I went to the hospital after.”


At the hospital, “a good team of doctors” performed surgery.

“They fixed everything up,” said Rodewald. “Completely healthy now. Everything’s all good.

“It was pretty nuts. It could have been way worse.”

Less incredible, but pretty impressive nonetheless, is Rodewald’s journey to the NHL.

Undrafted, after his fourth season (2014-15) in the WHL ended he had a nine-game tryout with the Toronto Marlies. The following campaign he played seven games with the Marlies and 62 with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. Despite scoring 18 goals for the latter, he was left looking for a new landing spot in 2016-17.

“I was deciding on ECHL teams … I didn’t have any other offers,” said Rodewald.

Just so happens the coach of the Senators ECHL affiliate, the Wichita Thunder, is Malcolm Cameron, who also coached Rodewald when he was a kid.

“It was between Wichita and a couple of other teams, and he really persuaded me,” said Rodewald. “I owe a lot to Malcolm Cameron for setting this relationship up with the Senators.”

Rodewald didn’t stay in Wichita long. In fact, after just five games he was promoted to Binghamton, where he contributed 18 goals.

The reward for that and a solid training camp arrived Tuesday, when Rodewald signed an entry-level deal with Ottawa. He was summoned from Belleville on Thursday, along with Filip Chlapik, with the Senators left shorthanded by the injury bug.

Rodewald was a healthy scratch against the Flyers, but could make his debut in New Jersey on Friday.

“He’s got his skill level up significantly since I first saw him,” said Mark Stone, a fellow Winnipeg native who met Rodewald while training “five or six” years ago. “He’s worked really hard to get here and I’m excited to see him here.”

Rodewald was inspired by Ryan Garbut, a friend of his who went undrafted but played 305 NHL games before winding up in the KHL this season.

“The journey to get here has been hard, a lot of hard work,” said Rodewald, who admitted doubting himself when he was unwanted by NHL teams as a teenager. “You see guys that are getting drafted, and that’s what you want to do. You want to be the guy getting drafted, going through it all. There’s not much you can do sometimes. You just have to put your head down and work extra hard. Those guys that are getting drafted are working hard, you’ve just got to work harder.

“I still consider myself a young player, 23 years old and it’s only my third year of professional hockey. I think I still have a lot of upside, and I can still become a great player.”

Rodewald’s story is, as he puts it, all about passion and the love of the game.

Naturally, he called his family in Winnipeg as soon as he found out he had finally realized his dream.

“My mom cried,” he said. “She was beyond happy.”

In the Senators dressing room telling his story, Rodewald was surrounded by about a dozen members of the media.

“I don’t think I’ve talked to more than two microphones before,” he said, grinning. “It’s good. It’s a lot of fun. I’m just having a lot of fun right now.”

At that point you couldn’t help but feel good for Jack Rodewald, the toughest Senator of all-time.

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