Monday, September 20, 2004

So here's the deal. You'll recall Brad Lukowich is a former Star, one whose Stanley Cup win with the Lightning finally made up for being left off of the chalice in '99. (He was also traded on his wedding day, though if I recall, wasn't too burned up about it, because he knew the Lightning represented opportunity.)

Anyway, Lukowich was scrimmaging in Frisco at the same time Brahmas Adam Davis and Chad Woollard were around.

"I kind of threw it at Davis, 'how many d-men have you got,'" says Lukowich.

"Uh, four," Davis replied.

"Need another one?"


"He was laughing, like I was joking around with him and I said, 'tell your coach to give me a call.' Then as I was walking out, Al Sims was actually at the game. He gave me his card, I called my agent, they called him the next day and it was done."

Sims thought he might have been joking too.

"I didn't believe it until I saw the signed contract," the Brahmas coach says. "But he knows the league, he's seen some games, he knows it's competitive and he knows it's a good place to stay in shape. Brad wants to be ready if the NHL season starts and certainly, this will do that.

Lukowich, whose wife is from Jacksboro, will suit up for league minimum, $300 a week. He'll pay more than that in insurance premiums.

"It's a little pricey, but, bad pun, that's the price you've got to pay to play. I have a family, so it's smarter for me to do it this way. I've got to stay in shape. I don't want to get left in the dust, because there's too many guys out there that want this job."

Officially, Lukowich's contract isn't final -- the CHL plans to come up with a uniform policy regarding the signing of locked-out NHLers at the already scheduled league governor's conference call this Friday (just in case Colorado plans to sign Joe Sakic. And yes, they'll also be discussing goal judges).

More from Lukowich:

"As the lockout date got closer we were just looking at different options and the one thing that was sticking out in my mind was how close this team was to my house, I thought, there's an opportunity there. We really couldn't do anything until we knew, but once the lockout was done it was a no-brainer. I have a lot of friends that played in this league -- one of my best friends, Craig Stahl, was a member of the Austin Ice Bats and then the New Mexico Scorpions. He told me how much fun he had in this league."

Too bad Stahl is now with Columbus of the SPHL.

"He was sour when he found out," Lukowich says. "Oh well."

I asked him what he thought the difference was between a player like himself and CHL regulars he may have played against back in his junior days.

"I went on the league web site, I was checking out some of the guys and there's some
very good players. A lot of times you're just in the right time at the right place, that's the way I look at it. There's a lot of guys I played against when I was younger that were better than me, I just got my break at the right time. Those guys didn't have that opportunity, but they're still playing hockey -- at the end of the day they're still making a living playing the greatest game on earth."

Sims says Lukowich is "probably our top defenseman," but I think it's safe to say the "probably" was just reflexive coaching-speak.

"He'll get played as a number one defenseman, power play, penalty kill, even strength," Sims says. "And we'll be looking for his leadership in the room. It's great to have guys who've won previously, whether it's junior or college or pro. He's won the ultimate prize twice."
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