The Chiefs and AHL’s Springfield Falcons developed Tampa Bay prospects. This is the second year of the ownership-affiliation between Johnstown and Tampa Bay.
The Lightning supplied a large group of players throughout the season. The downside was that the Chiefs often were left short as players were called up to Springfield, as is the case in any affiliation.
Despite injuries to key players such as Randy Rowe, Doug Andress, Brandon Elliott and P.J. Atherton, the Chiefs won five of their final seven games, including a dramatic victory at Reading in the regular-season finale to clinch a playoff berth.
The Chiefs lost both games of a play-in series against Trenton.
“This new idea with Tampa was going to take some time,” Anzalone said. “It really hasn’t been that bad despite not being palatable to every fan. But I don’t know if anything is palatable to everybody anymore. I came here due to Tampa, which is what Jim Weber wanted at the time. I, like (Chiefs Vice President of Hockey Operations) Ryan Belec and the other guys, probably will fall under what Jim and Tampa decides.”
The Chiefs organization did an excellent job of preparing prospects for Springfield. Players such as David Spina, Stanislav Lascek and Jay Rosehill were called up and finished the season in the AHL. Others such as Rowe, Elliott, Atherton, Maxime Boisclair, Adam Henrich, Jean Desrochers and Radek Smolenak saw their share of time with the Falcons.
While such player movement is simply part of the developmental system, it often frustrates fans committed to their hometown team.
“My assessment of what’s happened in Johnstown, even through these difficult times of ‘who’s going up to Springfield and how long is he staying?’, a lot of people did a pretty good job,” Anzalone said. “It may not be what Jim wants or what Tampa wants.