10/06/2012 3:20 PM
By: Nicole Sorce (@nicole_sorce)
Binghamton Senators assistant coach Steve Stirling has practically seen it all over the past 40 years. His professional playing career, which lasted from 1971 to 1977, combined with coaching experience in both the American Hockey League and National Hockey League since 1998, has definitely put the tenured Stirling in a reminiscent mood this pre-season. As the Clarkson, Ontario native settles back into his B-Sens routine, he is reminded of his fondest memories the city of Binghamton has brought to his career.
Coach Stirling and Coach Richardson
"I definitely remember the rink," Stirling began. "It was always a tough place to play, especially as the home team, and I say this with nothing but respect - it hasn't changed."
Stirling spent seven games on the home bench of the Binghamton Dusters from 1974-1975 and returned for a full season in 1975-1976, when he ranked second on the team in scoring with 24 goals and 32 assists.
"I loved the charm and character of the old rink. Everyone's got new rinks these days, and I grew up with the old rinks," he continued. "That's why I liked it there. It was always a special place to play."
Stirling joined the Binghamton Senators as assistant coach in 2010-2011, a time when the team was in a six-year dry spell which kept them from the playoffs. However, the B-Sens snapped that streak and beat the Houston Aeros for the title of 2011 Calder Cup Champions. Although the following 2011-2012 season was a rough one for Binghamton, Stirling was reminded of another memory from his playing days - the fans.
Coach Stirling works one-on-one with Danny New at B-Sens training camp
"We had just an average team that 1975-76 year. As a matter of fact, we didn't make the playoffs," Stirling recalled, "but that didn't stop the faithful from coming out and supporting their team through thick and thin."
Stirling believes the strength of Binghamton's fan base has been confirmed time and time again.
"They are very knowledgeable, but most important, they are supportive," said Stirling. "Things haven't changed. Believe me. I remember that, and it was reinforced last year.
You can find the full version of this story in the 2012-2013 Binghamton Senators program!