Ian Clark's On Hockey: 3 Monarchs headed west
GOFFSTOWN -- THE FIRST WAVE of shakedowns has hit the Manchester Monarchs.
With the NHL resuming play later this month, players from AHL teams headed to the big league are getting the call and three Monarchs are flying west today. Jordan Nolan, Dwight King and Slava Voynov have all been recalled by the parent club Los Angeles Kings.
Andrei Loktionov, the fourth player who was with the Kings for the Stanley Cup win, will not be headed to L.A. - at least not right now. Just which other players might be needed remains to be seen.
"It looks like we're going to be losing some pretty valuable players. We had predicted that and it will create opportunities for others," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "The other question is the injury situation and health situation in L.A. right now. Hopefully, we'll have the remainder of our team that we had planned on having."
King has a one-way contract so he should be all set for staying in Los Angeles, but Nolan knows he might be headed back to Manchester if things don't work out.
"It's definitely exciting to get back in action (at the NHL level). I'm on a two-way contract, so I've got to go up there and work hard," Nolan said. "My spot is not going to be given to me. Darryl (Sutter) is a tough coach and demands a lot, so I just want to work hard and earn a spot."
The rest of the Monarchs will just have to wait and see what happens.
"It's all kind of in limbo right now," said Monarchs defenseman Andrew Campbell. "Are they going to have a camp, are they not going to have camp, who might go up or down . we really have no idea now so just go with the status quo, keep doing your job. If you get a call to go up and practice, you go, and if not, we've got games this weekend so it's work as usual."
Meanwhile, Morris will have some work to do to move parts around, mixing up lines and special teams units.
"We know our personnel. Now we've got to find out what the chemistry is and defensive pairings," Morris said. "We've got to break in new penalty killers and jockey around with some of the power play. It's a work in progress. It's a cliché, but it's true."
Morris said he regrets that the Monarchs (16-15-4) were not able to make more hay while the four Kings players were on the roster. But having those players also created complications and ice time headaches.
"I had hoped that we would have more success than we did having the opportunity to have those guys back," Morris said. "It complicates things when guys who are accustomed to having their roles be what they were in the past (having them) reduced. It makes for some awkward situations and we tried our best to be fair and be consistent and also take into account what we needed to do from a developmental standpoint."
It will take a few weeks for things to sort out as the Kings get their roster squared away and as a result, the Monarchs find out what they have to work with.
THE MONARCHS called up J.F. Berube from Ontario in the ECHL to help out in practice this week. Martin Jones tweaked a hamstring in his win at St. John's over the weekend and his status for Friday's game against Albany at Verizon Wireless Arena is unknown.
"I think it's day-to-day for Jonesy," Morris said. "I talked to him and he was hopeful he'd be ready (for this weekend). (Trainer) Mike Muir will make that evaluation more toward the weekend."
Berube is playing well in the ECHL with a record of 11-3-2 and a goals-against average of 2.34, with one shutout. If Jones can't play this weekend, Peter Mannino would likely get both starts since the Monarchs play Friday, have Saturday off and play at Providence Sunday afternoon.
Manchester comes into Friday's game fresh off a two-game sweep at St. John's.
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.