Night Ship Garcia to Badgers for Gladchuk

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.

Diego Garcia

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.”

Shane Gladchuk

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.”

Advertisements

Foster Hints Change Is Coming in New York

When Nick Foster signed on to coach the New York Night this offseason, it was widely assumed that he had a mandate to make changes, potentially sweeping ones, in order to mold the team into a contender.  With the team mired in the Eastern basement with an unsightly 3-7-0 record, Foster held a press conference on Friday to suggest that those changes might be coming sooner rather than later.

Nick Foster

“I’m not the kind of guy to beat around the bush,” said Foster.  “And right now, I’m looking at a team that’s not built to compete, and a team that’s not as good as they think they are.”

These statements were a major departure for Foster, who has responded to most personnel questions so far by saying that he’s “still evaluating.”  But he hasn’t been shy about making moves, and sources close to the coach say that he’s fed up with the team and weighing a major housecleaning, possibly including trades of some of the team’s biggest names.

“Nick was hoping that this was a champion in the rough, one that just needed a few tweaks and a new voice in charge,” said the source.  “But he’s quickly figured out that he’s got a team full of lazy, undisciplined egomaniacs, and that the best solution might be to take a fire hose and clean out the locker room.  The hard part will be getting ownership on board.”

It took Foster all of four games to decide the Night needed a kick in the pants.  After getting shut out by Quebec 1-0 last Wednesday to fall to 0-4-0, Foster called for an unscheduled practice on their off day Thursday.  RW Daniel Bellanger and D Teddy Morrison skipped the practice, and Foster responded by benching both of them for the next day’s game, in which the Night finally recorded a win in an 8-5 romp over Hamilton.

As New York continued to struggle in Week 2, Foster continued tinkering with his lineup.  He booted D Tuomas Nurmi and RW Rick “The Stick” Nelson off the top line, while promoting RW Ivan “Trainwreck” Trujwirnek and D Shane Gladchuk up to that line.  He benched D Jean-Luc Aubin for a couple of games as well.

After Friday’s 4-3 loss to Hershey, Foster finally sounded off publicly for the first time.  He didn’t call out any players by name, but team sources say that the coach is especially disenchanted with Nelson, Bellanger, and goaltending duo of Jesse Clarkson and “Jersey Mike” Ross, who have been roughly equally ineffective.

Foster is reportedly weighing benching Nelson and demoting Bellanger and either Clarkson or Ross to the minors.  “We’re not going to get anywhere unless we try something different,” the coach said at his Friday press conference.  “We’ve been trying the status quo for two seasons, and it’s gotten us nothing but mediocrity.”

The grand plans of Foster may meet resistance, however, from owner Marvin Kingman.   Kingman is eager for a Vandy, but he reportedly believes that the Night can get there with the current roster.  “He spent a lot of money on these guys,” said the team source, “and he want to keep them around.”

Asked on Friday if he expect Kingman to object to his planned shakeup, Foster responded, “Ownership wants to win, same as I do.  We’re all looking for results, and I’m going to keep making moves until we get there.”

Assistant coach Biff Lombardi, who was a finalist for the head job, thinks Foster is on the right track.  “Let me tell you, Nick’s not afraid of nobody,” said Lombardi.  He’s not about talk; he’s all about action.  Everyone’s going to need to get with the program, or they won’t be around long.”

Night, Shockers Make League’s First Trade

New York NightSaskatchewan ShockersThe Saskatchewan Shockers and New York Night completed the SHL’s first trade this week, a deal that was inspired by an ill-advised postgame comment.

Daniel Bellanger
Daniel Bellanger

Last week, Shockers RW Daniel Bellanger was asked for comment on his 6-game pointless streak.  A visibly frustrated Bellanger laid the blame at the feet of his teammates.  “The fact is that this team is garbage,” the winger snapped.  “They can barely stand on their skates.  I have been carrying this team for the whole season, and I am very tired.  I cannot do everything.”

Bellanger’s comments made him persona non grata in Saskatchewan, and the Shockers front office began seeking a trade.  Meanwhile, the Night were seeking an offensive upgrade to move up in the wide-open East.

Shane Gladchuk
Shane Gladchuck

On Monday night, the teams struck a deal to send Bellanger and D Shane Gladchuk to New York in exchange for F Brad Stevens, D Dick Bradshaw, and the Night’s 1st-round draft pick.

“We felt like this was a great opportunity for us,” said Night GM Royce McCormick.  “Daniel is an impact scorer who will fit right in here in New York.  We already have the league’s best attack, but now it’s getting even better.  And in Shane, we get a valuable two-way threat that will firm up our blue line.”

The 28-year-old Bellanger was Saskatchewan’s leading scorer at the time of the trade, having tallied 13 goals and 30 points.  The 26-year-old Gladchuk was a quiet, steady presence on the Shockers’ second line, having started every game and putting 2 goals and 3 assists.

Bellanger expressed delight at the trade.  “I could not be happier to be going to such a great city,” he said.  “Also, I am grateful to be with a team that actually has a chance, with teammates who can play at my level.”

Gladchuk’s reaction was more mixed.  “I’m going to miss my teammates and the great fans here,” the defenseman said.  “But I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in New York.”

In exchange, the Shockers received the 25-year-old Stevens, a popular reserve who put up 2 goals and 4 assists in limited action with the Night, and the 31-year-old Bradshaw, who had yet to record a point this season and had fallen out of favor with New York coach Preston Rivers.

Brad Stevens
Brad Stevens
Dick Bradshaw
Dick Bradshaw

While the primary goals for the rebuilding Shockers were to unload Bellanger and acquire the pick, GM Cooper Matthews also praised the players coming back in the deal.  “Obviously, we’re looking toward the future, but this deal is also about the present,” said Matthews.  “In Brad, we’ve got a high-energy guy who will have a chance to show what he can do.  With Dick, we’ve got a solid veteran defenseman who can be a leader and teacher.”

Stevens reacted to the trade with a mixture of excitement and confusion.  “Awesome!” said Stevens.  “I’m pumped to get a chance to start, and I look forward to getting to know the… Saskatchewanders?  Saskatchewanians?  Saskatchwanites?  What are they called, anyway?  Guess I’ll find out.”

Bradshaw declined comment on the trade, but his play is doing the talking: in 4 games with the Shockers, Bradshaw has recorded 3 assists.

Three days after the trade, the Night and Shockers faced off at Potash Arena in Saskatoon.  The sellout crowd greeted Gladchuk warmly, but booed Bellanger vociferously.  “I am not surprised,” said the winger after the 5-4 New York win.  “They are mad at me for telling the truth.  They should be booing their own team for being losers, but instead they boo me.  Simple jealousy.”