By Corine Gatti
NORFOLK, Va. â€“ It is part of the life of an athlete. Being traded and packing up the suitcase to start over in an unfamiliar city is nothing new. Norfolk center Paul Szczechura experienced that last winter after being informed that the Iowa Stars traded him to the Norfolk Admirals. Shocked and disappointed, Szczechura turned his thinking around and his game around. â€œIt was a little rough in the beginning when I found out and left Iowa [Stars],â€ Szczechura said. â€œIt was around Christmas time and I knew I had to work harder.â€ Iowa had initially signed Szczechura to an Amateur Tryout Contract in March 2007 after finishing his collegiate career at Western Michigan University [CCHA]. He was signed to an American Hockey League Standard Playerâ€™s contract the following season. With that all behind him, Szczechura joined Norfolk undrafted and without an NHL contract.
But that didnâ€™t last.
Szczechuraâ€™s destiny and career took a turn for the better. The Brantford, Ontario native tuned into his own offensive rhythm and adapted instantly to an Admirals jersey. The Southeast seemed to smile down on the rookie, notching seven goals in his first 10 games with Norfolk. The center tied the Admirals for third on the team with 14 goals, and finished the 2007-2008 campaign by scintillating fans with 26 points in 24 games.A two-year NHL contract with the Lightning soon followed in April. What deemed to be a setback, the trade paid dividends for both Tampa and Szczechura.
Change was good.