D-Day for Stingrays
The ECHL trading deadline came and went today without the Stingrays making a swap. But it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. Head coach Jason Fitzsimmons and assistant coach Jared Bednar were hard at work on the phones early in the morning, and they stayed glued to the lines right up until the 3 p.m. deadline.
At times, both men were on the phone talking to different peers around the league while cell phones also buzzed and the fax machine whirred. Many of the possibilities Fitzsimmons and Bednar worked on involved more than one team, and thus involved multiple phone calls. Besides trying to improve the Stingrays for the playoffs and the long haul, the duo were also looking for short-term lineup fixes. With three games in three nights this weekend — beginning Thursday night in Charlotte — several players nursing injuries and others called up to AHL Hershey, the Rays are operating with a skelton crew.
While the Capitals rely on a group of excellent pro scouts for opinions and scouting reports when considering trades, Fitzsimmons and Bednar generally rely on their instincts and what they’ve seen in various players over the years. If they feel they haven’t seen enough of a certain player, they’ll call someone in their vast network of peers and acquaintainces who has. The Rays passed up at least one proposed trade on Wednesday on the basis of a less-than-glowing report from a neutral third party on the player who would have been headed to South Carolina.
During the course of the day, some good news arrived when athletic trainer D.J. Church came into the office to tell the coaches that goaltender Daren Machesney’s knee has come around to the point where he is ready for backup duty in Charlotte. Church also informed the coaches that an examination of forward Matt Stefanishion showed no serious damage, and he should also be able to suit up in Charlotte.
It is hoped that forward Cail MacLean and defenseman Nate Kiser will be back next week. In the meantime, the Rays are still poking around for additional help, at least for the Charlotte game and possibly for the weekend. With today’s reassignment of forwards Dave Steckel and Alexandre Giroux from Washington to Hershey, there may be resulting trickle-down reassignments from Hershey to South Carolina. The Rays are hoping that is the case.
South Carolina held an optional skate today, with the players conducting the drills themselves as the coaches worked the phones. Most of the players came out to skate rather than taking a day off. The Stingrays were on the ice for about an hour.
I’d have more details and quotes on the deadline day doings, but I lost my notebook somewhere between the rink and the hotel. Honestly.