Fifteen with Anthony Bitetto

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)
Anthony Bitetto didn’t choose the #24. It chose him. Probably because of Tino Martinez or some other New York Yankees shenanigans. (Photo Credit: John Saraya)

There are now numerous players that I’ve had the chance to see come and go through the Milwaukee Admirals organization. I’m not sure there has been a more fun personality to be around than defenseman Anthony Bitetto. He always seems to be on the cusp of some kind of joke. He keeps the group around him loose. But he also has worked incredibly hard to get where he is today.

(Photo Credit: Indiana Ice)

Bitetto’s journey into the game started out of the sheer fun he had playing it. When he found himself traded from the New York Apple Core (EJHL) to the Indiana Ice (USHL) it was a wake up call to him that people saw a bright long-term future for him as a hockey player. That last statement comes with then Indiana Ice head coach, now head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Jeff Blashill specifically in mind. It was Blashill who acquired him, told him he should take the game seriously because he could have a bright future in it, and stick to it. The Ice would win the USHL’s Clark Cup the year that Bitetto joined.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Now that he has been around the NHL scene with the Nashville Predators for the past year or so some might forget that Bitetto is yet another classic case of ECHL to AHL to NHL. His start with the Admirals at the AHL level wasn’t necessarily anything to write home about. He required a trip to the Cincinnati Cyclones at the ECHL level to get more minutes and come that much more to grips with day-today life as a professional hockey player. The response was met well and Bitetto from that point forth made big strides to his game. In the off-season that followed, with an assist from teammate Mike Liambas, Bitetto put himself in excellent physical condition and made even further strides on and off the ice. That season he produced 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) for the Admirals in 73 games.

As good as the 2013-14 season looked from an offensive standpoint for Bitetto it wasn’t entirely the case defensively. He made a big leap in one regard but not much of one in the other. As the name of the game is defense to play as a defenseman Bitetto needed to up his two-way ability and found himself in a top defensive role for the Admirals the following year where he grew incredibly on defense. His game starting to really polish saw him get called up to the NHL that season as a member of the Predators. He’d log 7 games at the NHL level in the 2014-15 season before making the full leap the following season.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

I always do my best to keep a real unbiased take when it comes to forwarding news out of Admirals camp. Yet, for anyone who comes across Bitetto, you ultimately become a fan of him the person. Back when Chatterbox first started up here on Admirals Roundtable a person like Bitetto would be a go-to guy in victory or defeat. A hockey locker room after a win is a joyous place to be. After a loss? Not so much – especially given the brutality of said loss. Bitetto could be an interview bombing type of personality but more-so always provided an honest assessment of how the team and himself played no matter the result. If he’s that way to the media – I can only imagine how much more candid he is to his coaching staff and teammates.

Bitetto’s path to get where he is today is a pretty remarkable one. In 2008-09 -as a kid- he was just playing the game for the fun of it. After the end of the next season he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Draft. Ever since turning pro he has made constant improvements on a year-to-year basis. It’s a shame then that he was injured to start this current season when he looked set to be taking that next new big leap forward and doing on a stage as big as the one Nashville has lined up for itself in the NHL this season. But, I am a believer in things happening for a reason. And I think Bitetto’s NHL run will get back and going very soon.

Massive thanks to Anthony Bitetto for taking the time after practice this morning to catch up and then do this big ol’ interview. Now that we have our first in-season edition of Fifteen in the books I’d love to know who you want to hear from in the interview series next! Leave a comment down below and let me know who should be in Fifteen next time around. There are plenty of new people to hear from this season.

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