Post-lockout fallout binds Monarchs
Defenseman Thomas Hickey looks to pass during a recent Monarchs game. Hickey and two teammates were called to Los Angeles to particpate in the Kings' NHL camp. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER FILE)
With just 15 players available to them, the Manchester Monarchs (17-16-4) stitched together a patchwork lineup Sunday and fought hard, eventually losing 2-1 at Providence. Manchester should be in better shape numbers-wise tonight when it hosts Springfield at 7 at Verizon Wireless Arena.
"Part of our job is to be able to roll with the punches," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "And there are some really challenging moments when you learn about situations where there are so many moving parts. You just have to be able to deal with it."
So just what happened on Sunday?
Three Monarchs, rookie forward Tyler Toffoli and defensemen Jake Muzzin and Andrew Bodnarchuk were all called to camp with the parent club Los Angeles Kings.
Meanwhile, defensemen Thomas Hickey and Andrew Campbell and forwards Rich Clune and Marc-Andre Cliche all had to be put on waivers due to signing AHL exclusive deals that allowed them to play with Manchester during the lockout.
That left Morris with four defensemen (Nick Deslauriers, Vincent LoVerde, David Kolomatis and Bryan Rodney). Enforcer Justin Johnson, who has played in just six games this year, was pressed into duty as a fifth defender.
"I've never experienced having 10 players that you had the week before not be in the lineup the following weekend," Morris said. "It was a unique situation, to be sure."
Morris gave the players the day off on Monday due to the low numbers.
"We didn't have practice because it didn't really make sense if we weren't going to even have the same lineup that we would have for the game (tonight)," Morris said. "It wouldn't have made any sense to skate (Monday) with the short roster."
All four veterans cleared waivers Monday and are available to the team for tonight's game. That brings Manchester up to the bare minimum six defensemen and one extra forward at 13.
Monarchs goaltender Peter Mannino made 39 saves and nearly helped Manchester win on Sunday. He'll go again tonight as Martin Jones (hamstring) remains on the sidelines.
"I talked to (goalie consultant) Kim Dillabaugh about that and he felt like the target (for Jones) would be that he would be ready for the weekend," Morris said. "He hasn't faced a shot since the injury."
As for tonight's opponent, Springfield (20-9-6) had six players called up to Columbus: Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson, David Savard, John Moore, Ryan Johansen and Tim Erixon.
"They're one of the hotter teams," Morris said. "Who is in their training camp and who is slated to make the parent team will determine how level the playing field will be."