- On Saturday, the Hershey Bliss placed D Steve Cargill on the disabled list. Cargill, who has had a sensational rookie season and played his way onto Hershey’s top pairing, was crunched hard into the boards during the third period of Saturday’s 6-4 win over Boston, and did not return. He was diagnosed with an upper-body injury that is expected to keep him out for 3 to 4 weeks. To replace Cargill on the roster, the Bliss promoted LW Gabriel Swindonburg from their CHL affiliate in Milwaukee. The 20-year-old Swindonburg, who was Hershey’s first-round draft pick this season, has scored 22 goals (tied ofr the CHL lead) with Milwaukee, and earned a trip to the CHL All-Star Game.
- Also on Saturday, the New York Night placed RW Ivan “Trainwreck” Trujwirnek on the disabled list. Trujwirnek suffered a lower-body injury while blocking a shot during the Night’s 7-4 loss against Hamilton. Trujwirnek’s situation is described as “week-to-week.” With Trujwirnek on the shelf, New York recalled RW Mickey Simpson from their farm team in Utah, Its the second stint in New York for Simpson, who was called up during LW Lee Fleming‘s injury back in late January.
- On Saturday, the Hamilton Pistols terminated the contract of LW Diego Garcia. The 26-year-old winger had been playing with Hamilton’s CHL team in Oshawa. After being bench due to a disagreement with Oshawa coach Harvey Williams, Garcia left the team. The Pistols deemed him in breach of contract. More on the story here.
Diego Garcia has a well-earned reputation as a malcontent. The 26-year-old has played in several SHL organizations since the league’s inception, but he’s never seemed happy with his role wherever he’s been.
He started on the third line in Dakota, but quickly lost his starting spot, and complained about it until he was traded to Hamilton. With the Pistols, his lackadaisical work habits and indifferent focus wore out the patience of coaches, and they dealt him to New York the following season.
He played regularly in New York for the rest of the 2016 season, but then Night coach Preston Rivers was fired, and new head man Nick Foster benched Garcia due to his poor defensive work. Garcia griped to the press about the benching, implying that racial discrimination was a factor in the decision. Shortly thereafter, the Night demoted him to their farm team in Utah.
Garcia played well in Utah over the next season and a half, but failed to earn a call-up. This led him to once again demand a trade. The Night accommodated him at last year’s deadline, shipping him up to Boston. He played in the bigs for the final 20-odd games of the season, but the Badgers weren’t impressed enough to re-sign him this season.
Failing to land any major-level offers, Garcia signed with the Oshawa Drive. But his usual issues – lack of hustle and his penchant for bellyaching – landed him in hot water with coach Harvey Williams. The simmering tension between the two boiled over this week, when Williams benched the winger and Garcia responded by leaving the team.
According to team sources, Garcia’s latest frustrations began when he was passed over for the CHL All-Star Game. He made the team last season, and felt that he deserved a return trip. He became even more upset when the Pistols, Oshawa’s parent club, traded for F Cary Estabrook from Boston. In Garcia’s opinion, he is a superior player to Estabrook, and deserved to be called up instead.
“I knew [Estabrook] from Boston,” Garcia fumed to reporters. “They say I don’t hustle? He hustles way less than I do. They say I’m bad at defense? He’s worse. They say I don’t show up for practice? He cares more about what time the bar closes than what time practice is. But he’s the golden boy, the great white hope, so he gets a second chance. And the lazy brown guy rots in the minors. I wish I was surprised.”
Garcia’s rant rubbed Williams the wrong way. The coach told reporters that Garcia “has been a pain in my [butt] all season. He’s always in my office whining about how he ‘deserves’ to be in the majors. And I always tell him the same thing: If you want to make it to the next level, go out there and show me something special. Make it so they can’t deny you a shot. And he doesn’t want to do it. He’s been fine, but nothing special. He’s had five years to make it in the majors, and he hasn’t stuck. He’s got talent, but he doesn’t want to put in the work. So I don’t want to hear about it.”
When informed of his coach’s comments, Garcia shot back: “Oh, so now I’m lazy and uppity, huh? I wonder why I haven’t gotten a fair shake in this organization. All my life, I’ve had to work twice as hard to get half as far. It’s the same old crap.” He then said that – yet again – he wants to be traded.
Williams reacted to the trade demand with derision. “Oh, here we go again: ‘Trade me, trade me.’ Every time someone calls him out on his [crap], he demands a trade. Anything to avoid taking a hard look in the mirror. Well fine, then. I’ll do it for him.”
The coach announced that he would bench Garcia indefinitely. “Everywhere else, people got sick of him and they punted so they don’t have to deal with him. Well, I’m gonna deal with him.” Williams said he would play Garcia again “when he finally owns up that he has no one to blame but himself. Given his track record, he might be sitting awhile.”
Garcia responded by leaving the team and returning to his offseason home in Vancouver. He said he would not return to the ice until the Drive traded him. “Obviously, I’m never going to get a fair shot with this organization, so let’s move on.”
Three days later, the Drive terminated his contract. “If Diego is not going to provide his services to our team, then he is in breach of contract,” said Pistols GM Marcel LaClaire. “He said that he wants a fresh start; he is now free to pursue that with any team he wishes.”
This may be the end of the line for Garcia in the SHL; he has worn out his welcome with multiple organizations, and he does not put up the kind of numbers that would compel a team to sign him in spite of the headaches.
“If some desperate team takes a chance on him, I wish ‘em the best of luck,” said Williams. “He’s a legend in his own mind, and guys like that – there’s just no reasoning with ‘em.”
Amid the flurry of activity at the trading deadline, with contenders making both small and large moves to load up for a playoff push, one deal wasn’t like the others. It was a trade between two non-contending teams that involved no big-name players. Arguably, there was only one reason that the deal was made: to satisfy Diego Garcia’s trade demand.
Garcia, a 26-year-old winger, has had a productive season with the New York Night’s minor-league affiliate in Utah; his 41 points this season led the team. But when it became clear that the Night had no intention of promoting him to the big club, Garcia grew disenchanted and demanded to be traded.
Three weeks later, New York accommodated Garcia’s demand, sending him to the Boston Badgers, an expansion club that is thirsty for offense.
“We took Diego’s demand seriously,” said Night coach Nick Foster. “I’ve always been straight with my guys about my plans for them.” After Garcia made his demand, Foster said that he called the disgruntled winger to talk about his place in the organization. “I told him my thinking and how I saw our forward situation, and what I thought he’d need to do to crack the lineup here,” the coach told reporters. “After we talked, Diego felt like he’d prefer to go somewhere that he would have an opportunity right away, and we looked for a chance to make that happen.”
In Garcia, Boston acquires an undeniably talented player, but one whose lackluster work habits and prickly personality have caused him to wear out his welcome in multiple cities. He posted 9 goals and 22 assists over pieces of three SHL seasons with Dakota, Hamilton, and New York. He has a reputation as a player who can contribute on offense, especially as a passer. However, he is considered weak on defense, which makes him an odd fit for a Badgers team that is supposedly built around defense and hard work.
On the other hand, Boston’s need for offense is so acute – they are last in the league in goals scored by a considerable margin – that they may be willing to explore unorthodox choices. Head coach Cam Prince was an assistant in New York during Garcia’s time there, and he likes what the winger brings to the table. “Diego is a talented guy who has the explosiveness to make things happen,” said Prince. “We could use a little extra pace and a spark on offense, and I think he can give us that.”
In exchange for Garcia and 19-year-old defenseman Horst Hasenkamp, the Badgers sent the Night a pair of players. The prime return for New York is 29-year-old defenseman Shane Gladchuk, who put up 2 goals and 10 assists in 40 games with Boston. Gladchuk, who is in his second tour of duty with New York, is expected to join Andy Ruger on the Night’s bottom defensive pairing.
In addition, the Night acquired Alvin Fawn, a 19-year-old prospect who scored 7 points over 36 games in the minors this season.
“Shane is one of those guys who doesn’t grab the headlines, but he does a good steady job,” said Foster. “We’re looking to tighten up in our own end, and Shane’s just the guy we need to help with that. If everything works out the way I think it will, I hope we’ll be able to lock him up long-term.”
This year, the SHL’s minor league will also be holding an All-Star Game. The game will take place at Waterfront Center, home of the Virginia Rhinos. The rosters for the game, along with each player’s current stats, are below.
Coach: Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh (Virginia)
LW: Norris “Beaver” Young, Oshawa (15 G, 27 A, 42 Pts, 10 PIM, +19)
D: Gary Hermine, Oshawa (11 G, 28 A, 39 Pts, 16 PIM, +20)
C: Pat “Stoner” Collistone, Oshawa (17 G, 26 A, 43 Pts, 8 PIM, +19)
D: Rennie Cox, Virginia (15 G, 20 A, 35 Pts, 4 PIM, +7)
RW: Anders Pedersen, Oshawa (12 G, 25 A, 37 Pts, 23 PIM, +19)
LW: Yuri Laronov, Virginia (17 G, 19 A, 36 Pts, 16 PIM, -2)
D: Blake Blacklett, Virginia (14 G, 19 A, 33 Pts, 26 PIM, +7)
C: Cyril Perignon, Virginia (17 G, 24 A, 41 Pts, 0 PIM, +2)
D: Ambroz Melicar, Baltimore (12 G, 21 A, 33 Pts, 8 PIM, +3)
RW: Chris Quake, Virginia (6 G, 24 A, 30 Pts, 20 PIM, -2)
LW: Rex Batten, Baltimore (11 G, 21 A, 32 Pts, 31 PIM, Even)
D: Kirby Hanlon, Maine (6 G, 12 A, 18 Pts, 20 PIM, +1)
C: Phoenix Cage, Cleveland (7 G, 17 A, 24 Pts, 6 PIM, -9)
D: Hampus Olsson, Maine (6 G, 8 A, 14 Pts, 6 PIM, +1)
RW: Felix Delorme, Hartford (11 G, 12 A, 23 Pts, 6 PIM, -12)
Jonathan Crane, Maine (10-8-3, 2.06 GAA, .917 save %)
Hector Orinoco, Oshawa (15-6-0, 2.75 GAA, .896 save %)
Coach: Wiley Kiyotie (Utah)
LW: Diego Garcia, Utah (8 G, 23 A, 31 Pts, 10 PIM, -1)
D: Steve Cargill, Milwaukee (7 G, 23 A, 30 Pts, 48 PIM, +8)
C: Dale Wilcox, Colorado Springs (12 G, 19 A, 31 Pts, 29 PIM, +13)
D: Georg Ochre, Muncie (5 G, 21 A, 26 Pts, 49 PIM, +12)
RW: Philippe Durien, Colorado Springs (24 G, 22 A, 46 Pts, 22 PIM, +13)
LW: Veikko Sikanen, Omaha (15 G, 15 A, 30 Pts, 23 PIM, +5)
D: Brian Coldivar, Minnesota (12 G, 14 A, 26 Pts, 18 PIM, +6)
C: Tanner Everest, Minnesota (7 G, 24 A, 31 Pts, 18 PIM, +7)
D: Rudolf Kerasov, Minnesota (8 G, 17 A, 25 Pts, 22 PIM, +6)
RW: James Clay, Milwaukee (8 G, 22 A, 30 Pts, 16 PIM, +3)
LW: Jean Pierre Fleury, Minnesota (14 G, 11 A, 25 Pts, 14 PIM, +8)
D: Trevor Lockwood, Omaha (7G, 17 A, 24 Pts, 53 PIM, -1)
C: Vance Ketterman, Milwaukee (11 G, 15 A, 26 Pts, 12 PIM, +3)
D: Duncan DeShantz, Colorado Springs (4 G, 18 A, 22 Pts, 45 PIM, +17)
RW: Mark Winters, Minnesota (7 G, 20 A, 27 Pts, 24 PIM, +7)
Sonny Kashiuk, Colorado Springs (20-3-1, 1.57 GAA, .943 save %)
Kelvin White, Muncie (12-10-0, 1.85 GAA, .937 save %)