Before coming to the New York Islanders, Freddy Meyer had established himself as a serviceable defensemen.
Playing three seasons for the Philadelphia Flyers from 2003 to 2006, Meyer earned a reputation for being hardworking and a steady presence. That presence seemed to catch the eye of new Isles GM Garth Snow during the middle of the 06-07 campaign.
Snow traded for Meyer in mid-December in exchange for forward Alexei Zhitnik and a conditional draft pick.
Meyer would only see action for 35 games after the trade eventually going down with an injury toward the end of the season. But even though he wasn’t playing, being around that team — that won their last four games to steal a playoff spot on the last day of the season — still sticks out in his days on Long Island.
“That year was obviously one of my favorite,” Meyer said in his talk to nyislesblog.com back in September. “We had a lot of really good guys on that team. Not just playing wise, but also the veterans that made sure to stir the pot and get us going in the right direction.
Ricky (DiPietro) in goal at that time, was having one of his better seasons if I remember correctly. So having him and those veterans on board, being a young guy at that point, to be able to have that experience was it definitely fun.”
Regarding that experience of seeing the team make the postseason even sitting out with a broken finger, Meyer acknowledged just being in that situation was memorable. The Islanders would bow out in the first round to Buffalo in five games with Meyer not suiting up for a single game.
“Just to be in that situation, and seeing the fanbase and how fired up they were, was powerful,” Meyer said. “Knowing the history of the organization and getting to be in that environment at The Coliseum, while also giving them something to cheer for definitely left an impression on me.”
As the following season got underway, the undrafted d-man was back in training camp fighting for a regular spot. Meyer had more than enough competition with Bryan Berard, mainstays Chris Campoli and Radek Martinek, Bruno Gervais, and veterans Andy Sutton and Brendan Witt. When camp finished, Meyer was eventually the odd man out, being placed on waivers where the Phoenix Coyotes claimed him. It wasn’t long after — just five games and two months in the desert to be exact — that he was placed back on waivers, only to see the Isles swoop back in and pick him up.
For Meyer, it was a pretty crazy couple of months because of that situation.
Now back with the Islanders in the beginning of December, Meyer became a regular on the backend. That 2007-08 season, he suited up for 52 games and found the scoresheet 12 times — three goals and nine assists. Meyer was happy for his second return because he found the Island a great place to play and the coaching staff was giving him the minutes he felt he deserved. Having a lot of friends on the team helped ease the situation again too.
“I definitely enjoyed coming back and all the time I got to play on Long Island,” Meyer said.
Despite the Islanders transitioning in to a new era during the 2008-09 season and the team in the basement, Meyer was rewarded for his consistent play. In late January, “Steady” Freddy signed a two-year deal that kept him an Islander through the 2009-10 season.
“Freddy has earned this contract extension with his talent, work ethic and perseverance,” said then-Islanders general manager Garth Snow after the two sides struck the deal. “He has been through a lot this season, but his attitude never wavered. He is a solid defenseman in all aspects of the game and we’re pleased he has made a commitment to us for two more seasons beyond this year.”
Even during the tough times the team was going through, that consistency was Meyer’s M.O.
“I felt like I had to work and grind for every opportunity I got. I tried to make the best of those years. Just trying to chip offensively (which he did with nine and 15 points in those seasons) and play a two-way style was what I focused on the most.”
Meyer left the Islander organization after the 09-10 season. He would play one more season in the NHL with the defunct Atlanta Thrashers before making his way to Europe where he signed on with Modo in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In August 2012, Meyer retired from playing pro. He would shift his focus to coaching taking an assistant job with AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. After two seasons in Manchester, the Sanbornville, NH native left to take a head coaching gig with the Eastern Hockey League’s East Coast Wizards.
Meyer is still coaching the Wizards but has also ventured into other opportunities. The 37-year old now runs his own business, Dream Big HockeyStars. The company runs hockey camps, clinics, and private lessons out of the greater Boston area.
“I’m on the ice a lot everyday,” Meyer said about his job. “But for me it’s not going to work. You’re going to skate everyday and play hockey which is obviously the biggest element at the end of the day. I love it. It’s good to help out kids and give them instruction from a high level.”
As almost anyone who sticks with the game after they hang up the skates, Meyer is on the ice more now than he was during his playing career. In terms of stories from his time with the franchise, Meyer said nothing really jumped off the map.
Instead, it was the relationships he built and just being able to play in NHL that he was most thankful for.
“For me, it was always showing up, working hard every single day, and trying to make myself and my teammates better.”
Wearing the fabled crest also Meyer looked at as a privilege and one he won’t soon forget.
“Showing up and playing at the highest level was obviously fun,” he concluded. “But at the end of the day it is a job as well. I was in some games. I was out of some games. But getting the opportunity to wear the Islanders sweater and stepping on the ice, and all the historic players that played there over the years, was always the bigger picture for me.”