Sorry to say that the Snakes are dropping like flies. The Cottonmouths head out on a two-city road trip with a depleted roster. On to Pensacola and Southaven for contests with the Ice Flyers and RiverKings tonight and tomorrow night. So, who's in and who's out?
On the bus will be newly-signed Corey Bellamy and Biff McNally. Word is that there WON'T be a smackdown for the right to wear number 14. Good to hear. I believe the plan is for Corey to keep it. :) Corey has been signed to a regular contract after completing his three-gamer. Biff will be signed by tonight.
To make room for Corey, Jerome went ahead and put John Sullivan on the 30-day IR. John will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Monday, so we'll have a more definitive diagnosis then.
Jordan Braid is also hurt and didn't make the trip. He went to the doctor today and is scheduled for an MRI next week. So, two-thirds of the powerful Sullivan-Braid-Matt Gingera line is now on the shelf.
In the good news department, Levi Lind will probably miss only this weekend. YAY. Also, Orrin Hergott is scheduled to see one of the country's foremost experts on concussions on Monday. At that point, Jerome, owner Wanda Amos, team doctors and Fonda and Orrin have some serious decisions to make. The doc will determine whether Orrin COULD play. All the others have to decide whether he SHOULD.
Ya'all know where I stand on this issue. I miss seeing Orrin on the ice. The team dynamic changes when he's not there. No question. I know ya'all want him back. Again, not a question about that either. But, as much as I love hockey, if there's even a slight chance Orrin could suffer permanent, significant damage if he's hit again, he needs to hang 'em up. Fonda, Nixon and their family are far more important than the sport or team. So glad he'll be getting a definitive answer soon.
One more thought on Orrin. As far as Jerome's and my collective brains go back, this is only Orrin's second concussion. I say "only" not because two is good, but because two is not three...haha. Also, they're spaced out pretty far. Orrin was hurt in the 2008 playoffs and then again on Nov. 21, 2112.
Jerome sounded confident as the guys head to Pensacola this afternoon. He said they had a great week of practice and noted that Pensacola will be shorthanded too. The Snakes will miss Jordan, Levi and Tom Fitzpatrick, who's in SC with the Stingrays. But the Cottonmouths added Biff. Tired of this math. Let me try to count bodies on the webcast tonight...haha.
Pensacola, as you probably know by now, was involved in a serious incident in LA last Friday. There is one main issue here and a couple of secondary ones. An unruly LA fan, no doubt fueled by alcohol, spit and threw beer on the Ice Flyers' Brad Cooper after the home team suffered a disappointing loss in a LONG shootout. Pensacola captain Leo Thomas jumped into the fray and threw at least one punch at the fan.
Cooper will serve the second and last game of his suspension tonight against the Snakes. Thomas was suspended for the rest of the season and the playoffs by commissioner Jim Combs.
Here's where the water gets a little muddy. First of all, are the fans WAY too close to where the visiting team exits? Secondly, where was security as the visitors left the ice? Both of these are significant issues, but one trumps them all:
As a professional athlete, 31 years old, captain of his team, Leo Thomas has to walk away. The number 1a rule of hockey (right alongside...no sticks as weapons) is you simply can NOT engage with fans. Period. End of story.
Do I feel sorry for Leo Thomas, the human being who made a split-second decision to stick up for his teammate? I absolutely do. Is the punishment harsh? It sure is, but it has to be. Try to picture what would happen if 3-4 more players jumped in and a couple of the fan's buddies. :( Talk about bloodshed. The word 'riot' comes to mind.
A final note on Thomas. It didn't take him long to land with a new team. Thomas signed with Bloomington of the CHL yesterday.
The Ice Flyers have to keep Thomas' roster spot open for a few more games and Cooper will sit, so they'll be shorthanded too. Goalie Ross MacKinnon is back from his trip to Evansville (ECHL). The Snakes didn't face MacKinnon the last time the two teams squared off. Columbus beat Pensacola and Gerry Festa 4-1 a week ago Thursday. MacKinnon is the only goalie ahead of Andrew Loewen among the league's leaders.
Should be an interesting and exciting weekend of hockey!