Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Some Bats fans were wondering whether Jonathan Forest still had a future with the Austin Ice Bats now that Matt Barnes is coming back.
Coincidentally, he went to Flint as a replacement for former Austin back-up and all-around good guy Dan McIntyre, who will hopefully recover by the playoffs.
However, I understand Forest's Generals career ended today, with the UHL general managers spending a good part of the afternoon on a conference call discussing the specifics.
Why? Well, the ECHL, UHL, CHL and WHA2 all have working agreements to honor everybody else's paperwork. You can't just join another league in the middle of the season without clearing waivers, and you can't just join another league because your team didn't make it to the playoffs.
That's true even if an AHL team is involved. In theory, Forest was signed by the Manchester Monarchs and reassigned to Flint, but there's no evidence of that transaction (unlike Beaudry and Zelenewich), and regardless, the Monarchs aren't allowed to do that (ditto Utah and Manitoba with New Mexico and Indy's goalies). Such a move can only happen if the guy is on an AHL contract in the first place, a la former Houston/Corpus Christi player Ed McGrane.
Now, generally speaking, I think players at this level should have greater freedom of movement (thanks to the new labor agreement, the ECHL can only tie up eight players in the summer, down from 20). But this is the system that's in place right now, and if it wasn't, you'd have a free-for-all. It would also screw up the whole process of completing futures deals, as well as possible expansion drafts (I don't think the CHL is gonna need an expansion draft this year, but that's another story).
The sad thing is, this is the second time Forest has done something self-interested that was actually against his own best interests, simply because -- I assume -- he doesn't understand the rules, and thus can't work them in his favor. If he'd bothered to show up for Mudbugs training camp at the beginning of the season and didn't make the team, the Bugs would have been forced to trade him or release him, and he would have been playing for the Bats (or possibly the Ice) right from the start.