D.C. player feeling affects of NHL lockout

D.C. player feeling affects of NHL lockout
October 15, 2012, 5:30 pm
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The NHL lockout has affected many players in many ways.

For Duante Abercrombie it has postponed his lifelong dream of playing professional hockey in North America while also giving him an opportunity to skate with the Capitals.

Born and raised in D.C., Abercrombie, 25, has spent the past two weeks working out with Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera, Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle, Mike Green and John Carlson at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington.

“I came to the rink, walked up to Matt and said, ‘Hey, can I get out and skate with you guys?’” Abercrombie said. “He said, ‘Yeah, sure,’ and I’ve been skating every day since then.”

Abercrombie learned to play hockey at Fort Dupont Ice Rink and after winning a city title at Gonzaga College High School he attended Hampton University for three years.

Abercrombie returned to the D.C. area and began coaching hockey, but still had the urge to play. Last spring he joined the West Auckland Admirals of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League, an amateur league consisting of five teams with a season that runs from May through September, and recorded two assists in nine games.

Abercrombie was hoping to sign his first professional contract this fall but when NHL owners locked out their players on Sept. 16, hundreds of players were absorbed into the AHL, ECHL and Federal Hockey League.

“It’s bumping a lot of guys like me out,” he said. “I had an offer to go to the [ECHL] Elmira Jackals. It was a loose offer, but still an offer.

“As soon as the lockout happened, they started sending guys from one team to another and that bumped us free agents out. We got the short end of the stick. So we’re all hoping the lockout is over as soon as possible, so that everybody can play -- not just NHLers, but everybody at everybody level.”

Until then, Abercrombie and his agent will continue calling teams in hopes of getting an invitation.

“I can play forward, defense, wherever I’m needed,” he said. “It’s good to be out on the ice with these guys because you can pick up a lot that you wouldn’t pick up training by yourself. I’m really happy I’m able to skate with them.”