I’m sure he was all smiles, too.
From today’s article in the Tampa Tribune by writer Erik Erlendsson:
The Lightning called up C Cedric Paquette from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Friday and sent down RW Mike Blunden, who played in Tuesday’s game at Calgary.
Paquette, who made his NHL debut last season in the final two regular season games and the postseason, was among the final cuts in training camp. He leads Syracuse with three goals and is tied for the lead with five points, but will bring a different type of game to the Lightning.
“Cedric is a gritty player,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “If you look at some of the guys we have lost — Killorn, Callahan, (Victor) Hedman — we’ve lost a little bit of jam on our team. All our guys play extremely hard, but you want a little bit of meat and potatoes and we lost some of that.
“He’s a gritty kid, he’s not afraid of anybody. He probably earned his way to stay on the team this year …but he’s earned his way back and we are going to need him.’’
You can read more here.
This leaves the Crunch without two of their main scorers from last weekend with Jonathan Drouin’s conditioning stint ending one weekend early. Jonathan Marchessault is the only one left from that dynamic trio. My completely uneducated and blind guess has Cody Kunyk centering that line, but that’s really just a suggestion that’s influenced by a lack of options. Wingers and centers are sometimes switched around, too, so it wouldn’t surprise me if coach Rob Zettler had to do a little shifting in anticipation of tonight’s game at Worcester.
IGHTNING REASSIGN DEFENSEMAN LUKE WITKOWSKI TO SYRACUSE
TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned defenseman Luke Witkowski to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, was recalled to Tampa Bay on October 19 but did not see any game action. The Holland, Michigan native has played in all four games this season for Syracuse, recording an assist and 15 penalty minutes. In his first professional season in 2013-14, Witkowski appeared in 76 games with Syracuse, notching two goals and 12 points with 204 penalty minutes. He lead all Crunch skaters for penalty minutes. Witkowski skated in four preseason games with Tampa Bay this season, recording an assist and 11 penalty minutes.
Lightning recall Mike Blunden from Syracuse
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Mike Blunden from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Blunden, 27, has skated in four games this season with the Crunch, recording two goals and three points to go along with two penalty minutes. He ranks tied for second on Syracuse with 14 shots on goal. Blunden recorded a goal and an assist in his most recent game with the Crunch on October 18 against the Binghamton Senators.
The 6-foot-3, 214 pound forward has skated in 102 career NHL games, over parts of seven seasons, with the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens. Blunden has registered four goals and eight points to go along with 105 penalty minutes during his NHL career. He set career highs for games played (40) and penalty minutes (59) and tied his career best totals for goals (two), assists (two) and points (four) during the 2009-10 season while playing with the Blue Jackets.
The Toronto, Ontario native was signed as a free agent by the Lightning on July 1, 2014.
Keeping in mind that this was written before the call ups yesterday…
Johnathan Drouin didn’t come to Syracuse to save the Crunch from itself. He came to get his NHL pre-season in. And, really, playing in the AHL at the beginning of the season is kind of like an NHL pre-season. Teams are trying to gel, are trying to figure what works and what doesn’t. Everyone’s in the same boat, more or less. The talent’s a little raw, but there’s always potential.
Drouin came here to get himself conditioned to go play hockey in the NHL. That he helped the Crunch get into the “W” column for the first time this season is just an added bonus. It’s a pretty added bonus, especially from a Crunch fan’s perspective. But, in the grand scheme of things, that’s all it is. It’s a bonus.
Drouin is here to make sure he’s ready to jump onto Tampa’s roster as soon as he gets back. He absolutely helped the Crunch win this past weekend, and he’ll hopefully/probably help them do it again this weekend, when Syracuse faces its first three-in-three of the season. The Tampa organization is a big believer in winning to develop, so anything that can help their developmental team succeed is a positive.
But then he’ll go back up to Tampa. The Crunch will have to find a way to win without him. This is where conditioning stints can be dangerous if fan expectations rise too high.
The good news? Syracuse looked more like a team this past weekend than they did for the majority of last season.
Read more over at Raw Charge!
LIGHTNING RECALL FORWARD JONATHAN DROUIN, DEFENSEMAN LUKE WITKOWSKI
TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Jonathan Drouin and defenseman Luke Witkowski from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Drouin, who was assigned to Syracuse for conditioning on Thursday, October 16, played in two games with the Crunch this past weekend, recording a goal and two assists with a plus-4 rating. Drouin was assigned for conditioning after suffering a minor fracture on his right thumb, causing him to miss the Lightning’s training camp. Drouin, 5-foot-11, 178 pounds, was the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, has played in all four games this season for Syracuse, recording an assist and 15 penalty minutes. In his first professional season in 2013-14, Witkowski appeared in 76 games with Syracuse, notching two goals and 12 points with 204 penalty minutes. He lead all Crunch skaters for penalty minutes. Witkowski skated in four preseason games with Tampa Bay this season, recording an assist and 11 penalty minutes.
My mind is a jumble of thoughts right now, some stemming from my very recent Raw Charge entry on conditioning stints and how dangerous it can be to rely on them too heavily to turn an AHL team around, so forgive me if this is a little scattered.
Although the Lightning had promised as recently as this morning that they weren’t making a D-call up and that they were going to leave Drouin in Syracuse for the originally scheduled amount of time, I guess they lied. We can’t blame them, really.
The Lightning is on a road swing right now. Drouin clearly proved he was ready this past weekend, and for whatever reason–maybe there’s a forward up there who is a little banged up–they obviously felt it was time to hurry the process of Drouin’s return. Witkowski has been called up because the Lightning lost defenseman Victor Hedman during their game last night in Vancouver, and were already a little thin with Radko Gudas out with a lower body injury that’s been nagging him since pre-season.
Apparently they felt they needed some extra insurance in both areas. What’s confusing with the defenseman recall is that just this morning Lightning head coach Jon Cooper told the media that he was “comfortable” with their depth on the blue line and didn’t anticipate a call up. By the way, off topic rant here, but part of that depth is Mark Barberio, who has yet to see a regular season game so far this season. Why Cooper isn’t playing Barberio more–hell, at all–astounds me. Barberio has clearly improved his game, with or without Cooper’s help, and to not give playing time to a deserving guy who has worked his ass off to improve is definitely head-scratchingly confusing. But, who knows, maybe Witkowski is just there for insurance and Barberio will see the playing time he deserves. I do hope Witkowski sees some time, just because he deserves it, too.
The Crunch doesn’t play again until Friday, so it’s likely that Witkowski might be back before we can even miss him. Either way, good luck, CatDog. Also, many thanks to Drouin for the memories. It was a fun weekend.
So, this is about, what, 16 hours late?
It isn’t late because of a lack of excitement about this, I promise you. This is pretty big for the Crunch and its fanbase. We usually don’t have this kind of right-to-the-NHL-skipping-the-AHL talent sweep through town. But, hey, Breaking Benjamin is back on tour, and yesterday that concert took precedent over nearly everything.
(It was glorious, by the way. Nearly two full hours of the new Breaking Benjamin. They did all of their singles, including “Rain,” and also did a ton of songs off of all three of their albums. I’m exhausted, I got to bed at 2 AM, but it’s been four years since I’ve seen them live, and that certainly made up for it!)
Anyway, ICYMI, Johnathan Drouin has been sent to the Syracuse Crunch for a conditioning assignment and is expected to play in both home games at the Onondaga County War Memorial this weekend. Tonight’s game is against the Springfield Falcons while tomorrow’s is against the Binghamton Senators. I have all of the links for you to be able to get caught up on this story: