In Atlanta, when a transaction says Chicago, it means the Wolves, not the Blackhawks. That will change and become more confusing now that the Gwinnett Gladiators have affiliated with the Blackhawks (due to the demise of the Fresno Falcons).
Four of the five assigned to the team were in the lineup tonight: Adam Berti, Adam Hobson, Jean-Claude Sawyer and Brennan Turner (who is on a Rockford contract). Goaltender Joe Fallon did not dress. Not only did the four start the game, they're listed as the top line on the whiteboard in Jeff Pyle's office:
Berti - Hobson - Siddall
Kaleniecki - Schell - Fox
Fuller - Bateman - Brant
Turner - Sawyer
Engel - Mason
Cava - Marchesi
IR: Stoesz (3-day), Dunne (7-day), Youngclaus (30-day).
Here's that top line together on the bench.
In general I prefer there to be fewer ECHL teams so that the talent is more concentrated. There's more NHL prospects per game that way, and often better hockey (though not necessarily). But you like to see teams come and go in the offseason, not the middle. It's sad to see teams fail.
In all it's a bonus for me to have the Blackhawks send guys. I try to cover as many NHL prospects in the ECHL as I can, which results in me having worn a spot on the wall outside the Gladiators visitor's locker room. With this move, several western-based prospects have come east, which more than makes up for neither Dayton nor Elmira bringing anyone when they came. I'm interested to see Fallon and then what rookies they send in the fall. Fallon is rated 19th on Hockey's Future's Top 20 from August, the only one of the group to be ranked. It's hard to make the Blackhawks Top 20 with as deep as they are.
Indeed, the fact that the Gladiators were willing to take five from Chicago/Rockford is an indictment of Tampa's ECHL group. There were only four of them after Augusta folded and no other ECHL team would break up their team to take them all together. Mississippi has a couple of them now.
Hobson, Sawyer and Siddall enjoying a laugh after the whistle.
Injured tough guy Myles Stoesz helped organize the defensemen behind the bench looking very dapper. I think the more you know Stoeszer the funnier this was. But I think it will help him see things better to be back there.
Here he's yelling and you can see his new bottom front teeth. Josh Engel did some coaching too, motioning goalie Josh Johnson to come to the bench at one point.
Sawyer struggles with his helmet. He played on the power play and got some shots off. That's really where he's best fit. Last year when I watched him on Pensacola, the rest of his game left a lot to be desired.
Hobson. He played really well, very effective doing the little things. I think he gave Stoesz a hug when the Glads tied it up. (He's a former teammate).
Tonight though I was most interested in Scott Jackson with Mississippi. He was drafted quite high -- 37th overall in 2005, unsigned by the Blues and picked up by Tampa. He turned pro this year and getting little ice time in Norfolk, was sent down. I was prepared to determine what it is about him that scouts got wrong -- why a No. 37 pick failed -- but I came away thinking he could still make it. He struck me as a little young for his age in talking to him, but I didn't see any major flaw. Before the game, I thought the interview might be tough, the inevitable why are you here. But he scored the game-winning goal so he was in a good mood. The question of what the scouts got wrong can't be answered yet. It really is a five-year process and we're only three and a half years in.