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Amerks Training Camp, 09.23.13


“October, and kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. But you go on…and on…” U2, October

Is it weird that I write new blog posts in Pages (Word, for Mac) in fun fonts because it makes me feel less bad about the negative things rolling around in my brain? Don’t judge me. The Amerks opened up training camp Monday morning and, well … the outlook is bleak. Guys. This training camp roster is a hot mess.

I don’t even know where to start. Buffalo is a mess, and the fallout from the line brawl against Toronto Sunday night hasn’t even come down the pipes yet. On the surface, we’re probably looking at a concussed Corey Tropp and an injured Marcus Foligno. I’m not suggesting in any way they were playing into my Amerks-based musings. I’m blond, but it’s not natural. There appear to be two send downs from the parent club, but I’ll get to that later.

I am fully aware that training camp is nowhere near complete, and that rosters will change and blah blah blah. This is what I know so far: The kids coming in with AHL “experience” ranges from 2 games to 64 and the defense is a mess. I believe Aaron from The Ruff Writers put it best when he said this:

It’s bad. It’s really, really bad. We’re looking at Nick Crawford, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Matt MacKenzie, and Ryan Grimshaw. Grimshaw played 16 games with the Toronto Marlies last season, and three with Rochester in the 2011-12 season, If he makes the final cut, I’m sure he’ll be another Amerks golden child, a la Derek Whitmore, since he’s a native Rochester kid. I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in the other three “experienced” defensemen, since it seems most of their experience involved letting the puck trickle through and relying on David Leggio to shut things down. Speaking of Leggio …

David Leggio couldn’t get a break with Buffalo. Not even a nod. A nod? Hell, they didn’t bat an eyelash at him. David Leggio has started two preseason games for the Washington Capitals, having signed with them over the off season. I know, I know: preseason doesn’t count. I’ve said it probably a million times in the last two weeks. But let that sink in: David Leggio has started two games for a pretty solid NHL club and wasn’t worth Buffalo’s time. Yeah. I’m tearing up over here, too. It’s a tough pill to swallow. OUr goaltending prospects aren’t David Leggio. The freakishly tall Connor Knapp played seven games for Rochester last season, going 1-7-0. Nathan Lieuwn played four, finishing 1-2-0. Yikes. Maybe I’m being unreasonably harsh – we all knew that Leggio wouldn’t be with Rochester come October. I’m glad he signed with a club who appears to be giving him the time he definitely deserves, and I wish him the best of luck (please come home, David. I miss you already).

One of the bright spots in all of this mess is the signing of free agent Jamie Tardiff. Tardiff played for the Providence Bruins last season, and is the only guy on the current roster with ANY NHL experience. He played two games with Boston and had some solid numbers with the P-Bruins. He amassed 45 (30+15) points during 62 regular season games and 11 (7+4) in 12 playoff games. We welcome back my favorite player, Jon Parker. I’m sure that’ll be good times, as well as Kevin Sundher, Phil Varone, Frederick Roy, and Shawn Sydlowski. New faces included Evan Bloodoff, who played nine games with the Portland Pirates in 2012-13, and ALex Hutchings, who had 24 games with Syracuse. But I’m looking at this roster wondering when Jon Parker had 28 games with Rochester. Seriously? We let him on the ice 28 times? Were we desperate? I’m sorry, maybe I should play nice … There are a few guys who were at camp that don’t have any AHL experience, but I wasn’t impressed enough to call them out right yet.

As of this writing, it is looking like we will at least see the likes of Matt Ellis and career-AHLer Mike Zigomanis in Rochester before the end of camp. Ellis was sent to Rochester during the 2012-13 season, and it probably wasn’t the worst thing for him. While his numbers weren’t stellar – in 32 games he posted 12 (7+5) points and six penalty minutes – he didn’t seem as out of place as he would have in the NHL. Mike Zigomanis, huh? There were many jokes directed towards me when this signing occurred, which was awesome because I was on vacation and couldn’t respond. I’m struggling with this one. As a Marlie, I hated Zig. I don’t know if that’ll carry over into his likely time with Rochester, or if I’ll one day be ok with this acquisition. His numbers are decent – in 65 games with Toronto, he had 35 (7+28) points and 42PIM. He also had 9 playoff games for the Marlies last season, going 2+7=9 with 8PIM. Zig also has a bit of NHL experience, with 197 games across five teams. He is certainly a seasoned veteran and will lend some guidance to the babies on the team. Also, at 32 years old, he’s currently the only Amerk older than me, and I can’t hate that. At the very least, he can encourage them to eat healthier and talk about it through social media, as Zig is an extremely public vegan.

The rosters will be a little more solid within a week’s time, and the Amerks season kicks off on October 4 against the Grand Rapids Griffins. I am partaking in a Sabres blogger summit (their words, not mine!) on September 30, where I’ll likely be hanging out with Dear God, Why Us?’s @MattyRenn and we’ll be wearing our Penn State Hockey gear, so say hi if you’re also there. If not, I’ll see you at the game! Go Amerks!!

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