The Chatterbox, Vol. 43

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Guess where that puck didn’t go? If you answered “the back of the net” you are correct. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals improved to an 8-2-0-0 (16 points) record with their 4-0 shutout against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night. The win keeps them three points back of a red hot Rockford IceHogs team that is on a seven-game winning streak.

There are always loads of positives to divvy up after a performance such as the one the Admirals put up against the Griffins. The passing was stellar. The defense played very well in front of Magnus Hellberg – helping him to his eighth career AHL shutout. And the offense put up four goals.

If there were any negatives, it would be that Viktor Stålberg suffered a knee injury as a result of the hip check dished out by Brennan Evans. It was the final game of Stalberg’s conditioning assignment. He’s was due back with Nashville on Saturday. Rather than prepare for his return to an NHL lineup, when the Predators play against the St. Louis Blues Saturday night, he’ll instead no doubt get his knee evaluated for possible ligament damage as a result of the hit from Evans.

After the game I spoke with Dean Evason, Magnus Hellberg, Joe Pendenza, and Triston Grant. Here is what they all had to say after the Admirals 4-0 shutout victory.

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The Hellberg Show Continues, Ads shutout Griffins 4-0

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Joe Pendenza recorded the opening goal for his third goal of the season. It would be the only one the Milwaukee Admirals needed as they shutout the Grand Rapids Griffins, 4-0. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals won 4-0 against the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday night. Magnus Hellberg recorded his eighth career AHL shutout by stopping all twenty-two shots on goal. Colton Sissons also scored twice tonight to double his goal scoring output to four on the season. The Griffins have now lost five-straight games.

“We talked afterwards that we’re able to play any game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “If it becomes a physical game we feel we have that group. If it’s a skill game, and up and down, we think we can play that as well. It’s great to know that you can play any way the other team wants to play.”

Joe Pendenza put the Admirals on the board first with a crafty defensive play to set it all up. The 23-year old rookie intercepted a breakout play from the Griffins and linked up with Viktor Arvidsson. The puck trickled in on goal and Pendenza has a few cracks at it before getting it behind Tom McCollum for his third goal of the season.

It was then Colton Sissons turn to score his third goal of the season. A great rush into the zone, started by Brendan Leipsic, ended with Viktor Stalberg tossing a pass into the center lane drive of Sissons. The Griffins may have had a chance to intercept and clear the puck but failed at doing so. In turn, Sissons benefited from the fumbled clearing attempt because McCollum’s hesitation on the play opened up the five hole. It was 2-0 Admirals after 12:26 of play.

The chippy element was then brought to the fore front in the first period after an ugly hit by Brennan Evans. The Griffins defenseman slid over from the right side of defense and hit Felix Girard in the head with a shoulder. There wasn’t a penalty on the play until Rich Clune instigated a fight. The referees didn’t seem to inclined to let these two swing for the fences and, instead, wrapped it up rather quickly.

Mark Van Guilder made it 3-0 and three-for-three on the night for Admirals goal scorers notching their third goals of the season. After a failed swatted clearing attempt foiled the Griffins defense, Austin Watson was able to swoop to the right wing walls and claim the puck. He dropped a pass off behind him to Van Guilder who fired from an awkward angle. McCollum was standing in the net when the shot was taken and it hit him off the right skate and in. It looked as if he never knew Van Guilder had shot on goal.

Evans was at it again in the second period for the Griffins. He leveled Stalberg low with a hip check and got him airborne. Stalberg, who was on the last game of his conditioning assignment, remained down for a long time before Admirals trainer Doug Agnew came to assist him off the ice. Before that could happen – Jonathan Diaby became the second Admiral to instigate a fight with Evans.

“He’s a physical guy,” said Triston Grant of his former Griffins teammate Evans. “Those hits ten-years ago maybe aren’t as questionable as they are today, but he’s a great guy who just plays hard.”

The third period saw two more fights. Clune psyched out Chris Bruton off a faceoff. Bruton tossed his mitts into the air and Clune left him high and dry. However, Liambas decided to give him a bout. The final fight from the night was with Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan locking horns with Jimmy Oligny. The Admirals ended the night with sixty penalty minutes and the Griffins had twenty-eight penalty minutes for a combined eighty-eight minutes worth of penalties.

After Colton Sissons capped the game off with an empty netter it was time to exhale for Magnus Hellberg. He missed out on a shutout in the dying moments in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Wolves but got it tonight.

“I think I’m more relaxed,” said Magnus Hellberg of his start to the season. “I know it can go either way pretty fast but just be relaxed. Try to play my game and I’ve been doing a lot of good with David Rook now.”

It was the eighth career AHL shutout for Hellberg. He stopped all 22-shots he faced tonight. And now has gone three wins in three starts with only two goals allowed for a 0.64 GAA and a 0.973 SV%.

“He’s playing great,” said Evason of Hellberg. “He’s playing like he did two-years ago. Credit to him. He stayed sharp, deserved to get in there tonight, and got the job done.”

Ramblings: Scratches tonight were Pontus Aberg, Frederick Gaudreau, Patrick Cehlin, and Garrett Noonan. Stalberg, who did not return to the ice after injuring his knee in the second period, was walking around without crutches in the Admirals locker room. It was the last day of his conditioning assignment and he is due back to Nashville tomorrow – regardless of injury.

Thoughts from tonight’s game? Are all games in the Midwest Division going to be this physical this season? What will Marek Mazanec need to do now to earn time in net over Magnus Hellberg?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: griffinshockey // flickr)

Teemu Pulkkinen currently leads the Grand Rapids Griffins in scoring with 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists. He hasn’t scored a goal in his last three games and failed to score in his previous outing. (Photo Credit: griffinshockey // flickr)

Feels like it has been awhile? That’s perhaps what the Milwaukee Admirals will be thinking come tonight thanks to this little resting period they’re on. They last played on Sunday afternoon in a 4-1 win over the Chicago Wolves. After today’s game, the Ads will have the rest of the weekend off before getting back into game mode on Wednesday against the Iowa Wild. Hopefully we see an energetic team during that span rather than a rusty one due to inactivity.

~Not So Grand Rapids~

The Grand Rapids Griffins are coming off of a four-game homestand where they lost each and every game. The lone contest they recorded a point from was a 6-5 (OT) loss against the Wolves. Their miserable run of form of has them in the cellar of the Midwest Division: 3-4-1-0 (7 points). They are the only team in the AHL yet to record a win on home ice.

That being said, they are unbeaten on the road so far this season. Three wins from three games. With an awful stretch at home in the past. Look for the Griffins to get out their frustrations tonight and compete their way back into the win column for the first time since 10/18/14.

~Prospect Watch~

Let’s start this section by stating how fortunate the Predators/Admirals have been so far on the injury front. Jonas Gustavsson dislocated his shoulder this past week for the Detroit Red Wings. This meant a recall for goaltender, and Admiral killer, Petr Mrázek. In addition, top prospect Anthony Mantha has missed the start of the 2014-15 season when he fractured his tibia in mid-September. Mantha is reported to be close to game shape. Still, he is “within weeks” from that happening – meaning, like Mrazek, he will not factor in tonight’s game.

Teemu Pulkkinen is the man I’d keep an eye out for tonight. While he didn’t score in the Griffins last outing, nor has he scored a goal in his previous three-games, Pulkkinen leads the team in scoring with 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists). To boot, he was the leading scorer in this head-to-head last season and was by quite a ways: 11 points (7 goals, 4 assists) in 10 games against the Admirals in 2013-14. To put that in perspective. The top scorer in this match-up for the Admirals last season was Colton Sissons with 5 points (4 goals, 1 assist) in 8 games.

Other prospects that will be on the ice to keep note of will be Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul. The two 21-year old defensemen are very gifted offensively. This season, Ouellet has 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) in 8 games. Last season, Sproul was phenomenal: 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in his first full professional playing season.

~The Other Guy~

So, there will be no Mrazek in net against the Admirals tonight. Thank goodness for that. Last season he played the Admirals six times, won five games, had two shutouts, a goals against average of 1.14, and a save percentage of 0.951. The only other person, alongside Mrazek, who I would cringe at the thought of us playing against was Jake Allen last season. Reason why I got that feeling probably has something to due with the fact that they are both exactly where they belong right now – the NHL.

Who should have the net tonight for the Griffins? Tom McCollum. In all seriousness, he has actually performed better – by the numbers in the AHL this season – than Mrazek. In five-games this season (one of which was a relief appearance of Mrazek) he has won twice, allowed less goals, has a better goals against average, and -as you’d expect- a better save percentage.

The current back-up goaltender for the Griffins is Jared Coreau. This is his second professional playing season and it is not his first look at the AHL level. He played in five-games last season for the Griffins… lost four of them, had a 4.39 GAA, and a 0.873 SV%. His ECHL season last year wasn’t exactly dashing, either. He played in 20 games with a 4.03 GAA and a 0.879 SV%. He’s yet to log an appearance in the AHL yet this season. I’m expecting that to keep trending tonight. Not unless we see the “Leggio Rule” implemented for the first and only time ever tonight.

Thoughts for tonight’s game? Despite their record, do you feel this game against the Griffins is just as big as a game with the Wolves or IceHogs? With his perfomance on Sunday in mind, would you roll out Magnus Hellberg over Marek Mazanec? What is your scoreline prediction?

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The AHL’s New “Leggio” Rule

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An overhead look at Bridgeport goaltender David Leggio, via The Hockey News

It’s official, the AHL now has a brand new “Leggio” rule in place to deter the manuever pulled by Bridgeport goaltender David Leggio. If such an instance were to occur again, the goaltender would get a game misconduct (resulting in an ejection of that player), with a penalty shot awarded to any player on the ice at the time for the opposing team.

Via The Hockey News:

On Thursday, the AHL announced a brand new rule change to prevent any further occurrences of this sort, instituting an automatic game misconduct for the offending goaltender and allowing for the opposing team to select any shooter from the ice to take the penalty shot on the replacement goaltender.

In case you missed the play, the Sound Tigers released a new camera angle showing Leggio’s clearly blatant dislodging of the net:

So Roundtable . . . What do you think of the conclusion of the Leggio saga? Should the AHL allowed more referee discretion on plays like this one to award a goal for the opposing team?

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The David Leggio AHL Play Everyone is Talking About

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“…oops.”

Every once in a while a play comes around that forces a change in hockey’s rule book. One of the most famous was the Sean Avery rule, concerning the forward’s unique method of screen goaltender Martin Brodeur, or Los Angeles forward Jarret Stoll’s hand on the puck defensive zone faceoff rule that went into effect after the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup run. Detroit fans are probably still clamoring for some rule changes after this horrendous no goal call last week.

On Sunday the AHL had a play likely to lead to a rule change in the not too distant future. Bridgeport Sound Tigers goaltender David Leggio pulled an interesting little trick in a game against Springfield:

Call it bush league or call it whatever you want, but Leggio successfully ended a two-on-none shorthanded breakaway coming at him by blatantly knocking the net off its pegs, giving Falcons forward Dana Tyrell a penalty shot. Leggio proceeded to stop the attempt, making the play all that more ingenious.

Afterwards via Twitter, the 30-year-old goalie played coy about the crafty maneuver, using the opportunity to plug his goalie clinics:

So Roundtable . . . What do you think of Leggio’s decision? Was it intelligent or bush league? What is the most unusual thing you’ve seen at an AHL game?

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 42

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It’s been a slow start for Colton Sissons. Was his goal on Sunday the start of bigger things for him offensively? (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Yesterday, the Milwaukee Admirals were able to get out of a two game funk by winning a very complete, wire-to-wire, 4-1 game against the Chicago Wolves. If anything, the lone down spot came with 1:03 remaining in regulation – the exact moment when Magnus Hellberg lost his shutout bid with the Wolves on a power-play with their net emptied. It was a shame that the shutout wasn’t completed. But, in hindsight, the performance speaks for itself. It was a solid game from the Admirals. And they managed to split the weekend set with the Wolves.

After the game I spoke with Dean Evason, Felix Girard, Magnus Hellberg, Rich Clune, and Viktor Stalberg. This is what everyone had to say after the win against the Amtrak Rivals.

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Admirals Return to Winning Ways; beat Wolves 4-1

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Felix Girard netted his second goal of the season in this afternoon’s 4-1 home victory over the Chicago Wolves. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals won 4-1 against the Chicago Wolves Sunday afternoon. Magnus Hellberg picked up his second win of the season in net as Viktor Stalberg, Felix Girard, Colton Sissons, and Mike Liambas all registed goals in front of him.

“We did like how we responded,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Certainly we played a different game than we played last night. We played with a lot of energy tonight. Lot of competitiveness.”

Viktor Stalberg opened up the scoring for the Admirals in the second period from the power-play. The goal was beautifully set up by Viktor Arvidsson with a shot-pass that fooled everyone but Stalberg on the back post. It was a tap in. And Stalberg’s first AHL goal since the 2009-10 season as a member of the Toronto Marlies.

Arvidsson’s presence on the ice continued with a fantastic shift that lead to the Admirals second goal of the contest. After cycling the boards with Triston Grant, a shot on goal was kicked out by Matt Climie right to the tape of Felix Girard – who scored his second goal of the season. The two goals were scored 2:21 apart from each other.

There was also a fight in the second period. Jake Chelios had a run at Rich Clune that caught the eye of Jonathan Diaby. The bout wasn’t anything close to the spectacle that Grant vs. Maggio was. Still, it’s great to see the Admirals willingness to stand up for one another.

The Admirals offense was back in attack during the third period courtesy of Colton Sissons. It was a tic-tac-toe play from neutral ice all the way to goal. Brendan Leipsic picked out Stalberg breaking down the left wing, Stalberg dished up a pass across Climie to Sissons, and Sissons smacked it home for his second goal of the season.

With a late power-play given, the Wolves emptied their net and ended Magnus Hellberg’s shutout bid with 1:03 remaining in regulation. A shot to the net was spilled out to Terry Broadhurst – whose low shot got through traffic and Hellberg to deny the Swede from what would have been his eighth career AHL shutout.

“He seems real calm,” said Evason of Hellberg. “He’s taking away a lot of net. When Magnus is good, and I have no idea about goaltending, but it sure seems that when he looks big he’s big. You don’t see a lot of net. He’s done a good job.”

The net was emptied again by the Wolves. This time they paid for it. Clune passed up to Mike Liambas who, after gaining neutral ice, fired into the empty net for his first goal of the season. Finishing this game off with a 4-1 win that ends the Admirals two-game losing skid.

Ramblings: Today’s scratches included Pontus Aberg, Patrick Cehlin, Garrett Noonan, and Frederick Gaudreau. Both teams rotated their goaltenders from the previous night. That meant a second start of the season for Magnus Hellberg. The goal for Viktor Stalberg was his first AHL goal since 2/20/10 as a member of the Toronto Marlies. The team he scored on? The Manitoba Moose. With their 31 shots on goal, the Milwaukee Admirals pushed the Chicago Wolves to a new season high for shots allowed in a game.

Thoughts from today’s game? Was this a return to form for the Admirals? Should Magnus Hellberg start being given a chance to start more games? Did we see the last of Viktor Stalberg on his conditioning assignment here today?

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Bitten; Admirals taken down 5-1 by Chicago Wolves

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When the bright spot from a game comes three minutes into it. It’s never going to be a good story. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals lost 5-1 on the road against the Chicago Wolves Saturday night. It is the Admirals first road defeat of the season. Despite an early goal from Mark Van Guilder, the Wolves grabbed this game by the horns around the halfway point of the first period and never let go.

The Admirals were able to get on the board early on the road tonight. Anthony Bitetto’s attempted stretch pass for Mark Van Guilder cleared all the way to the end boards. Due to how fast the Bitetto pass was, it bounced off the end boards and right out to Van Guilder before starting netminder Jordan Binnington could go out and play the puck. Van Guilder’s shot went through the glove of Binnington and in for his second goal of the season.

It wasn’t until the midway point in the first period before the Wolves really started to come alive. Defenseman Petteri Lindbohm fired a writer that had eyes and got through Marek Mazanec for his second goal of the season. Moments later, Yannick Veilleux whipped a shot from the slot past Mazanec for his third goal of the season to give the Wolves their first lead over the Admirals this season.

Chicago’s pace kept surging in the second period. They scored a mere thirty-eight seconds into the frame after Jake Chelios’ one-timed effort from the far left blue line was redirected by Jeremy Welsh. Mazanec really had no chance with Welsh right on his doorstep. It goes down as his fourth goal of the season.

The lone bright spot for the Admirals went bust in the third period when their perfect penalty killing performance finally conceded a goal. Shane Harper was able to take the puck from a neutral ice faceoff, enter into the attacking zone, fire, and ring a shot off the post and in. It was the first power-play goal from five chances for the Wolves. It’s Harper’s third goal of the season.

With well over two minutes remaining – Mazanec was brought to the bench to bring on an extra attacker. The final rally basically summed this game up. There wasn’t a lot of offense from the Admirals. There wasn’t a clean shooting lane. And, literally tenths of a second before the final horn sounded, Welsh scored on the empty net to make it a 5-1 final.

Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals included Pontus Aberg, Jimmy Oligny, Mike Liambas, and Patrick Cehlin. Aberg was injured in Wednesday night’s game after a collision with Viktor Stalberg. Tonight was Rich Clune’s first AHL game since 1/11/13 when he was a member of the Manchester Monarchs.

Thoughts from tonight’s game? What has happened to the Admirals offense these recent games? Should forward lines get shaken up? Can they rebound tomorrow afternoon?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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Wolves: Scouting the Enemy

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After starting off with five-straight wins – Marek Mazanec suffered his first loss of the season Wednesday night against the Iowa Wild. How does he respond in net? (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals will look to rebound tonight after taking their first loss of the season on Wednesday night against the Iowa Wild.  The Ads are set for a road-home weekend set with the Chicago Wolves. And there is a chance that the AHL schedule may benefit the Ads tonight and even more so tomorrow.

With yesterday being an off-day for the Admirals – the Chicago Wolves were pushed hard on the road by the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Wolves came out on top 6-5 in OT to end their two-game skid. It’s a trek back from Grand Rapids to Chicago for a game against the Ads, and then a trip up to Milwaukee for another game with the Ads.

I’m expecting there to be a lot of hitting and strong forecheck work on the boards tonight by the Admirals. They have a chance to take an already tired opponent and exhaust them before the puck drops on Sunday afternoon. If they play their hand correctly – this could be a successful weekend for the Ads.

~Recent Run of Form~

Since the Admirals last played the Wolves their Amtrak Rivals have played two games. After the Admirals defeated them 3-2 in overtime, the Wolves followed up with a 4-3 road loss to the Rockford IceHogs and then the OT victory in Grand Rapids mentioned above.

In the last two games for the Wolves – they have allowed four-or-more goals. This comes with both of their goaltenders, Matt Climie and Jordan Binnington, taking part. It was the veteran Climie that picked up the win last night but, in doing so, he allowed five goals from twenty-six shots. In the loss to Rockford, Binnington had allowed four goals from twenty-nine shots on goal.

~Climie’s Arch Nemesis~

Climie’s history against the Milwaukee Admirals has been rather remarkable. The 31-year old netminder has played in 217 career AHL games. Of that total, he has played the Admirals twenty-nine times – including twice in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

2009-10: 3-1-0-0, 1.26 GAA, 0.956 SV%
2010-11: 2-1-0-1, 2.66 GAA, 0.890 SV%
2011-12: 5-2-0-0, 2.59 GAA, 0.927 SV%
2012-13: 0-7-0-1, 3.13 GAA, 0.889 SV%
2013-14: 1-2-0-0, 2.60 GAA, 0.893 SV%
2014-15: 0-0-1-0, 2.71 GAA, 0.857 SV%

His career mark against the Admirals in the regular season is 11-13-1-2 with a 2.49 GAA and a 0.902 SV%. Mind you, it’s those last four seasons with the Wolves to keep an eye on. The last last three seasons especially haven’t favored him at all – eleven defeats and only one win.

~Hunting in Packs~

The Wolves are currently led in scoring by Rob Bordson who has 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in seven games. He is followed by a four-way tie for the second most points on the team with 6 points.

It’s a very deep roster that is finding offensive production all across the board in the early goings. Still, if I had one guy that I’d keep an eye out for this weekend it is – and remains Ty Rattie. In the Admirals-Wolves first meeting of the season his play, in combination with the speed of Terry Broadhurst, was outstanding to watch.

Someone else worth watching out for in a less-than-offensive sense is Cody Beach. He currently leads the entire league in penalty minutes with 68. His Fight Card already has three bouts attached to it this season. If Rich Clune makes his Admirals debut – perhaps we’re treated to a tilt between the two.

What are your expectations from this weekend’s games? Can the Admirals get back to winning form tonight? Scoreline predictions for the weekend? Do you see the Admirals rotating goalies at all this weekend?

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Zach Budish Assigned to Cincinnati

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Zach Budish has 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in 6 games this season for the Admirals. He’s now set to join the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL – a team that he played 16 games and 24 playoff games with at the end of last season.

The Milwaukee Admirals announced this afternoon that Zach Budish will be assigned to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. This roster move comes as a result of the addition of Rich Clune to the Admirals after he cleared waivers and joined the team yesterday.

Budish has 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in 6 games this season with the Admirals. He has performed on the team’s fourth line with Joe Pendenza and Frederick Gaudreau. He’ll be joining a Cyclones team that he played 16 games with at the end of last season and scored 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists). Budish also was with the Cyclones for their outstanding playoff run, played in 24 playoff games, scored 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists), and came up just short of winning the Kelly Cup with Cincinnati.

As for Clune, expect him to factor into this weekend’s games against the Chicago Wolves. He has 275 games of AHL experience to his name. His last career AHL game was with the Manchester Monarchs on 1/11/13. He had four shots on goal in that game and, interestingly enough, a two-minute penalty for diving to go along with a play where he was slashed by Tim Sestito.

Thought’s on this roster move? Was Zach Budish the right candidate to be assigned to the ECHL to make room for Rich Clune? What are your expectations of Clune’s time with the Admirals?

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