Wednesday, August 25, 2004

As far as I'm concerned the Ice Bats' affiliation with Minnesota is nothing less than manna. It doesn't have to get them Ed McGrane, or even the four-five bodies of Bats/Aeros yesteryears, to have a huge impact on the quality of Austin's team. Two defensemen would be just fine.

And I'm not worried about whether Lafayette will get the better pickings because A) Lafayette's a mess and B)You don't want too many players, lest they all get taken back (I know, I know, somehow Laredo managed).

This is also a situation where the lockout could be crucial. Even under the most stringent proposed rule governing NHL prospects' eligibility, the Aeros have a half-dozen key players who can stick around.

Of course, that a two-way street -- the Bats could have some stud playing for them while, say, Wanvig plays for Houston, then all of a sudden, lockout's over, Wanvig's on the Wild and the Bats guy is a goner.

More questions: is it possible Austin hasn't announced the signing of their top two returning centers 'cause the Aeros have one coming? Were Genesse and McNabb recruited with the promise of affiliation? Might Matt Shaw re-direct that player allegedly headed to Quad Cities? (And is that player Bill Kinkel? The Bats still need a tough guy).

The bottom line is all of Austin's success has been in part because of Houston, especially when players like Kelly Smart, Dan Price, David Brosseau, Jeff Kungle and Mike Gaffney stuck around beyond their two-way deals. Also, an unaffiliated team has yet to win a championship in the post-merger CHL. Be fun to see what happens now. Fans should also remember this means the roster doesn't get 100% filled until October.
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