So much for well-laid plans. Minutes after describing what he intended to do to his line-up this weekend, Jeff Pyle got word that Manitoba wanted to call up captain Mike Vigilante. Ryan Walsh was back in the line-up, and he decided to move Chad Denny to forward, a position Denny has played many times before in junior, and which the Thrashers have off and on toyed with making a permanent change.
Jeff Campbell wore the C on Saturday night. I joked to Pyle that he didn't waste any time naming a new captain once Vig was gone. "[Expletive] him," he said with a slight smile. "I told these guys -- once you're out the door, I love ya, but [expletive] you, you're gone." Don't cry over departed teammates is the message, with a little shock value thrown in. Manitoba has a couple injured guys, so it remains to be seen how Vig will be used.
Denny played on the third line (there is no fourth line in the ECHL), with a rotating mix of players including Stuart MacRae, Ryan Walsh, Myles Stoesz and Andy Brandt. He flipped between right and left wings. He had a few good hits, something Pyle was hoping he'd bring. He drew a tripping call behind the net as he worked the boards late in the game. Moving his feet more and getting tighter on guys defensively are the first areas to improve on in the next game.
"Pretty good," Pyle said of his play. "Physical -- doesn't know the systems yet but it doesn't matter if he does simple thing and be smart, stay back. He's got a great shot too." Denny had just one shot on goal (in the first period), a hard wrister from the slot.
As to why Pyle decided to put Denny at forward instead of the other swingman, Jamie Milam, he said "Jamie's been playing really well defensively with Jimmy (Jackson), so I wasn't going to break them up. If I did that, I'd have to break up another pair and put Chad with them. And he doesn't know the systems back there, which is the most important part of our game."