Sunday, October 06, 2002

Well, training camp is here. Anyone know if goaltender Mike Minard is showing up in Memphis? The former St. John's Maple Leaf was less than thrilled Toronto sent him to the CHL. By now, he may have changed his tune, but really, who can blame him? The Leafs have essentially said, "you have a limited future in our organization." If Minard can't catch on elsewhere in the AHL -- a painful reality to confront, if true -- he ought to be allowed to pick his bush league destination, or maybe check out Europe.

Then again, the Leafs are paying him $200,000, plus a $100,000 bonus over the next two seasons. Most players on the "AA"/"AAA" borderline would accept an assignment to the Memphis Xplorers for that kind of dough. And it only takes one injury or Toronto call-up to put him in St. John's again.

In any case, you gotta be impressed with Doug Shedden's Toronto hook-up (the Memphis coach finished his playing career with the organization). So many affiliated players are either long-term projects or emergency call-up fodder. Shedden's guys had an impact for St. John's last playoffs (while his own team won the Prez's Cup shorthanded). And Rookie of the Year Sebastien Centomo was obviously too good for the CHL right from the get-go. If he reports, Minard could be as well. He certainly provides one hell of a salary cap loophole!

Around the Underground
Regular readers of the El Paso forum know the argument has raged all summer -- are the Buzzards good or evil, I mean, good or bad?

It's still too early to know, of course. But it's not too early for fans of the non-Stepford variety to be impatient. You don't have to be a biased Buzzards-basher (i.e. close personal friend of former coach Trent Eigner) to agree with this pessimistic take on the Buzzards' fortunes. No doubt the roster will fill out over the next week, and change further as the ECHL makes all its cuts (hey, Troy Linna is available). Also, good goaltending goes a long way. But right now it's impossible to imagine El Paso beating four of Austin, Odessa, Lubbock, San Angelo, New Mexico and Corpus for a playoff spot.

Now, the more optimistic fans may say, "hey, screw you buddy, no one said the Buzzards had a chance against Odessa last year! And they gave the Bats a scare to boot!" But that was then, and that was under Eigner, with a different set of players. Don't get me wrong -- with that felony drug charge hanging over him, Eigner had to go (though the situation wasn't handled with much grace). But anyone who thinks the Buzz are better off without him purely for hockey reasons should realize anything less than an appearance in the finals means this year's team didn't live up to his standard. Time will tell.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall for this exchange between Daymond Langkow and Joe Burton... Speaking of Smokin Joe's NHL soujourn, while I stand apart from many CHL-Underground users in that I actually enjoy and understand The Warrior, I gotta wonder, if the Hockey Hall of Fame told him he could have a vote, would he turn it down, because he "hadn't earned it?"... Attention Ice Bats fans: the first thing you see on Memphis' web site is Kelly Smart. And then a bunch of painful memories.

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