In their first week on the ice, the Seattle Sailors struck the first deal of the SHL’s second season. Thanks to an onslaught of early injuries, the Sailors found themselves with a critical lack of defensive depth. They plugged that hole by picking up D Adam Leonard from the Hershey Bliss in exchange for F Gene Kennedy.
The league has seen a significant number of players hurt over the week, but Seattle has been hit the hardest. The Sailors lost players to injury in three straight game. Sunday’s 3-2 win over Saskatchewan was marred by the departure of D Wayne Snelling, who suffered a lower-body injury that is expected to keep him out for a couple weeks. In Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Michigan, RW “King George” Lane fell awkwardly against the boards and left with a lower-body injury; the team lists him as day-to-day. On Wednesday, Seattle lost both another game — 5-3 against Anchorage — and another player, as rookie D Benny Lambert was felled by yet another lower-body injury that could put him out of action for up to a week.
Lambert’s injury sent the Sailors into crisis mode, as they looked to grab the first available blue-liner. The Bliss, who were looking to enhance their forward corps, were a willing trade partner.
“Obviously, we were hoping not to have to make a move this early in the season,” said Sailors GM Jay McKay. “But we didn’t let ourselves get held up. Adam is a promising young player who fills a need for us now, but has a chance to grow with the team later on.”
Hershey selected the 22-year-old Leonard, a recent graduate from Peninsula State, in the fourth round of this year’s entry draft. He has a reputation as a stay-home defenseman and a good shot-blocker, although he is not an especially heavy hitter. He had yet to appear in a game for the Bliss at the time of the trade. He made his debut with Seattle on Friday in the Sailors’ 7-4 loss to Dakota.
Seattle claimed the 24-year-old Kennedy from Washington in the expansion draft. Kennedy was a reserve for last year’s division-champ Galaxy squad, putting up 5 points in 23 games. Though he was only occasionally saw the ice, Kennedy’s fun-loving spirit made him a fan favorite. The Sailors planned to use him as part of a third-line forward platoon with Yann Eberlein and Randy O’Connor. He had appeared in one game for Seattle before being dealt.
“This was a great opportunity for us,” said Bliss GM Scott Lawrence. “I’ve been a Gene Kennedy fan for a while now. I always liked him when he was with Washington. When I realized we had a chance to get him, I didn’t hesitate.”
With Leonard on board, the Sailors now find themselves hoping for better health in the upcoming games. Until Lane is able to return to action, Seattle’s only available reserve player will be their backup goaltender. As Sailors coach Stewart “Popeye” Corrigan said in his postgame press-conference Wednesday, “I don’t know if I’m running a hockey team or a sick ward.”