At this point last season, the Gladiators roster was basically set for opening night. Not true this time. They are still missing significant pieces of the puzzle, with players still at AHL camps. Dirk Southern is in Manitoba camp, but due to a groin pull, isn't going anywhere right now. Brad Schell is still in San Antonio, as they decide whether or not to keep him. If they do, they'll probably do a 25-game tryout contract, which would be nullified if he was sent down. If he signed a regular two-way SPC, he wouldn't be able to be called up by any other AHL team. I think Schell is smart enough not to sign that type of deal by this point. He'll get a chance somewhere this year, even if it's not San Antonio.
Also note that Schell's immigration paperwork isn't finalized yet.
A few photos of today's practice:
Pyle expects just one player to be sent down from Chicago, Myles Stoesz.
Some may have suspected rookie Matt Siddall to be sent down. The topic of him is a can of worms so big that no one in the know even wants to talk about it. But from what I've gathered over the past year, he's the Milan Bartovic of 2008, though that won't make sense to many people. Anyway, Siddall may need to invest in more ties for as much as he'll be wearing a suit in Chicago.
Nastiuk and Kowalski, who were of course partners in net for the Florida Everblades. I interviewed Nastiuk in 2006 when he was under contract with Carolina. He didn't strike me one way or another. He's got an AHL deal with Providence now.
The Gladiators have three goaltenders in camp, the two above plus Charlie Effinger out of Miami of Ohio. Pyle said that someone will need a goalie soon, and that's when they'll be in good position to trade. He is afraid if he keeps both Nastiuk and Kowalski, they'll both be called up and he'll be left with no goalie. It's a legitmate concern. It looks like K-Wal may be the odd man out.
Pyle has room on the roster to keep three for now, but won't all year. On a side note, recall Sean Fields being held hostage by the Utah Grizzlies last year -- not playing and not being traded. It was Jason Christie, now the Wolves asst. coach, who oversaw that. Small world.
Jake Anderson in yellow, John Anderson's son, who is in camp on a tryout. He was the fourth yellow jersey, and practiced with a mish-mash line. He seems unlikely to make the team.
Goaltending coach and rink manager Al Blevins was out helping push pucks around. He'll be helping out with practice as much as he can this year, and intends to work with the goalies at least twice a week. He said the goalies are really gung-ho about it. He won't go behind the bench at all though.
After practice in the lobby, when I was talking to Al, he was wearing a Michigan hockey t-shirt (he was recruited by them but decided to go the junior route, which he regrets). Effinger walked past and gave him crap about the shirt. Michigan is a CCHA rival of Miami of course. Al said that Dave Caruso used to go ballistic when he'd wear that shirt too. He said Dave finally got so fed up that he walked into his office one day and plunked down a Ohio State t-shirt for him to wear. So he wears that now too. Al said that if Effinger keeps giving him crap, he'll tell him "There's only one way to solve this -- get the old man a t-shirt."
On a more serious note, Al said that Effinger reminds him of Caruso in that he's so aggressive in net. He's twitchy as all get out for sure. He never stops moving.