It turns out that the Utah Grizzlies had good cause to wonder for the last week about what their coach was up to in the days preceding the IHL deadline for playoff-roster declaration.
Coach Butch Goring said player apprehension was behind some of the tentative play from the Grizzlies in Wednesday's 1-0 win over the Phoenix Roadrunners in the Delta Center.Thursday, Goring made a number of roster moves, pushing right up to the 3 p.m. deadline, picking up a playoff-hardened goaltender, swapping for two defenders - one an ex-Grizz - and returning two other former Grizzlies to the fold. The moves make Utah a far more experienced team than it has been lately.
Phoenix (22-40-10), which plays the 36-0-4 Grizzlies in the Delta Center again tonight at 7, also made a couple of moves, one a trade with Utah and the other sending left wing Dave Thomlinson to Providence of the AHL for right wing David Emma.
The Grizzlies have acquired 17-year pro goalie Don Beaupre, 36, who played briefly (seven games, 2-5, 4.30 goals-against average) in Salt Lake City in the 1983-84 season, from the Toronto organization. Beaupre played in 12 NHL playoff seasons. He played in 42 games (22-13- 4 with three shutouts and a 2.83 GAA) with St. John's of the American Hockey League this season. Second-year Grizz goalie Mark McArthur (24-19-4), who got Wednesday's shutout, has no pro playoff experience as he backed up Tommy Salo last season.
McArthur's latest backup, Les Kuntar, who's played 1:07 minutes for Utah, was left off the playoff roster, which could have included three goalies. Goring also could have put the names of 22 skaters on his playoff roster - which cannot change even for serious injuries - but settled for 21. Last year, when the Grizzlies won their second straight IHL-championship Turner Cup, they had only 23 players on the playoff roster as well.
Goring Thursday traded left wing Nicholas Vachon to Long Beach for former Denver Grizzlies' defenseman Jeff Sirkka, 29, who's played 51 games for Kansas City/Long Beach this season. He also acquired defender Jaroslav Modry, 27, from Phoenix for defender Sean O'Brien; signed former Grizz assistant captain Andy Brickley, 35, now part of the Boston Bruins' radio announcing team (he played for Boston); and put center Jim Dowd, 28, back on the roster. Dowd had been loaned to Calgary's St. John Flames of the AHL, and it's not known when he'll return to Utah, but his name's on the list.
An integral part of both Grizz Turner Cup championships, Brickley retired following back surgery last summer and joined Bruin broadcasting, with whom he must complete the season. The Bruins do not appear to be an NHL playoff team this season. Modry played with the NHL Kings and Avalanche last season.
The Grizzlies complete their homestand Monday hosting Las Vegas.