On October 12th, 2010, the Oklahoma City Barons made a small announcement that at the time was merely a footnote to training camp. Invitees Jesse Gimblett and Mark Arcobello had been re-assigned to the ECHL team in Stockton, California. The news was so small, so inconsequential, that I don’t even remember it coming about. Watching camp that week, I remember seeing Jesse Gimblett, along with a few others, but quite honestly I don’t remember the name Mark Arcobello let alone seeing him shoot the puck across the newly frozen surface of the Cox Center.
The smallish forward would play 29 games in his first season following four years at Yale, and it would be a surprisingly successful start as he would nab sixteen points in that span. A quick call-up to OKC in January of 2011 would be his first AHL stint. He would play in a thrilling OT victory in Milwaukee in the midst of a Barons six game win streak. As quickly as he would be re-called to the AHL, he was quickly returned to the ECHL alongside Jordan Bendfeld.
Upon his return to the ECHL he would trailblaze himself just a bit with an epic hat trick in that leagues All Star Game. Adding another five points to his quiver, the Oklahoma City Barons (and Edmonton Oilers) had seen enough to actually begin to believe in Markobello. He would be recalled in February of 2011, never to return to the ECHL again.
Three AHL seasons, and 104 points later, Steve Tambellini gave Arcobello his first NHL shot in February of 2013. 77 NHL games and 33 points later, Mark Arcobello would become a member of the Nashville Predators.
The post-AHL career of the Connecticut born winger has been quite remarkable even while fully ensconced in a wildly poor lineup. He scored goals. Made plays. Gained assists. Survived most nights. The fact that in five seasons he has worked his way up the ladder from an undrafted Ivy League graduate to legitimate NHL trade bait is the most unappreciated story of the Edmonton Oilers org in five seasons.
Crushed by lineup management, and perhaps a bit over-achieving in his debut, December 29th will mark an incredible date in the history of Mark Arcobello the player. It is the day he was traded to a real Cup contender. The day he was traded for a really good (or once promising) player. The day he took another step towards legitimizing himself professionally. That deserves our applause.
As the last “original” Baron from the 2010-11 season to still be within the Oilers organization, Arcobello resembles all the good things that an AHL farm club should herald. He was a diamond in a trash heap. An unpolished gem that is often a rare find. Disneyland on a sunny day. A trip through New England in the Fall. A cruise through the icy glaciers of Alaska. His constant “one upping” of our expectations gave us immense amounts of hope that he would graduate beyond limitations set upon him. Practically speaking, he should not be a modern NHL player – release is slow, foot speed is down, he’s just small – but that hasn’t kept him at bay. In fact, it has spurred him onward.
There was Omark, Hartikaineen, and VandeVelde – Arco shouldn’t have been the one that stuck around, increased his value, and landed himself amongst a good team in Nashville that is headed the right way. Hard work paid off, and the story seems to be writing another chapter on its own.
For me it is bittersweet knowing that we will lose the Barons after five seasons, and also lose the coach that carried the team over that time as well as lose one of the best stories to emerge from the Oilers farm team in Oklahoma. I’ll remember many things about this team, and certainly the remarkable story of Mark Arcobello is one of them.
Good luck, Markobello, we will continue to cheer you on. Thanks for the memories.