In 1989, the Norfolk Admirals, originally known as the Hampton Roads Admirals, officially became a member of the ECHL. Not long after joining the league, the Admirals made numerous playoff runs and secured three championship wins under John Brophy. Back in 2000, the Admirals were granted admission into the AHL as an affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks.
After several seasons and a few affiliates, the Admirals returned to the ECHL. While the team changed leagues on two occasions, Norfolk has had some strong and impactful players wear their jersey. Listed below are a trio who wore an Admirals jersey before making it to the NHL.
In 2010, Chris Wagner was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks 122nd overall. He did not play any NHL games until the 2014-2015 season.
Chris played for the Norfolk Admirals from 2012-2015. During his three seasons with the team, Wagner wore an “A” as alternate in 2013-14 and 2014-15. During his first season with the team, the right-winger recorded eight goals along with 13 assists which made for 21 points. He also ended the season with a +5 differential.
During the 2013-14 season, Wagner recorded 14 goals along with 14 assists in his first season wearing the “A.” Additionally, the Admirals made the playoffs where he added two goals and three assists in 10 games. That resulted in five points and a +3 rating.
Since his first NHL game in 2014, Wagner has scored 35 goals along with 23 assists while adding seven goals in the postseason. He also racked up one assist during five appearances in the playoffs. Wagner has played for the Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and now, the Boston Bruins. While he hasn’t scored a large number of goals, Chris is a solid forward who brings a lot of physicality to the ice.
Duncan Keith played for the Norfolk Admirals in 2003-04 and 2004-05. This was when the Admirals were still a member club of the American Hockey League. The Winnipeg native was drafted into the NHL 52nd overall by Chicago in 2002.
In his first season playing with the Admirals, Duncan recorded seven goals along with 18 assists which made for 25 points. As well, he ended the season with a -8 rating in 75 games.
During the 2003-04 postseason, Keith amassed only one goal along with one assist through a total of eight games. During the 2004-2005 season, the defensemen recorded nine goals along with 17 assists which made for 26 points. He did so in 79 games.
Keith played his first NHL game with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005, and in doing so, recorded nine goals along with 12 assists through 81 games. As well, he added 79 penalty minutes. Since 2007, Keith has been an alternate for the Blackhawks which has resulted in a large number of assists.
His record high in the NHL is 55 assists during the regular season. This, he accomplished twice in 2009-2010 and 2013-14. Keith has also made it into the playoffs in 10 of his 15 seasons with the organization. Keith is a strong defensive player, who can contribute to getting pucks into the net.
Richard Pánik, who now plays for the Washington Capitals, played for the Norfolk Admirals in 2009-2010 and again during the 2011-12 regular season. The Slovakian forward spent several seasons playing in the Czech Republic as well as Slovakia. In doing so, he made six playoff appearances before taking the ice in the United States.
During the 2009-2010 season, Pánik only played five games with the Admirals hockey club and only scored one assist. He spent the majority of that season in the OHL between the Windsor Spitfires and Belleville Bulls. Before making his way to the AHL with team in 2011, Richard skated with four team in 2010-11, two of which were the OHL’s Belleville Bulls and Guelph Storm.
Once returning to Norfolk for 64 games in 2011-2012, Pánik recorded 19 goals along with 22 assists in the regular season. During the postseason that year, Panik recorded five goals and added one assist in 18 games. He ended with a rating of +4.
After his first NHL season in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pánik recorded five goals along with four assists in 25 games. Other teams that he’s played for include the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, and now, the Washington Capitals. He has tallied a good number of points in several NHL seasons and has contributed strongly like he did with the Admirals. This of course when they recorded the longest winning streak in AHL history with 28 consecutive wins.