The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 3, 2009

Mike Mastovich | Lack of affiliates creates a challenge

The ECHL media guide was delivered to the Johnstown Chiefs’ office on Thursday.

Right there on Page 24, the abbreviation “TBD” corresponded to the Chiefs on the list of NHL/AHL affiliates for each club in the 20-team league.

The Chiefs are the only team without an affiliate as they begin their 22nd season in the league. TBD – as in To Be Determined – probably means there won’t be an affiliate in Johnstown’s immediate future.

That’s a concern. But the situation isn’t as bleak as the last time Johnstown began a season without an affiliation.

There will be challenges, especially concerning the league salary cap. But former coach Ian Herbers had stocked up a group of 23 players, most of them solid skaters and others as potential prospects.

Goaltender Kris Mayotte is back after earning an all-star game starter role a year ago. So are 14 other returnees.

Those signings will ease the sting of losing not one, but two quality affiliates who supplied the Chiefs plenty of talent last year.

No affiliates might be good news for so-called “bubble” free-agent players or others who typically are released to make room for a contract player just sent down from the AHL.

“The advantages are that definitely we’re not going to be in a situation where we have good players and you get a player or a number of players sent down to us, and we have to release guys just because the big club sends players,” new Chiefs coach Jeff Flanagan said.

“I think that gives our guys a feeling that it’s all up to them on how much ice time they get, if they make the team or not, and how long they stay here.

“They can look at it and say, ‘If I play well and do everything the organization asks me to do, then I’m going to get an opportunity to play on the power play, play on the penalty kill, play on the top line.’

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