Beginning Friday and concluding Oct. 1, 26 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League will be involved in preseason games.
The lone omission? New coach Don Hay and the Utah Grizzlies.
"For us, this will work out just fine," said Hay. "We just thought we wanted to spend our time with our team. We feel by the time our first game comes about (Oct. 5 at Grand Rapids), we'll have some top prospects from both Dallas and Florida."
Logistically, he added, playing preseason games would be a challenge. Besides the distance that separates Utah from the rest of the eastern-oriented AHL, the Grizz will most likely be composed of late cuts from both the Stars and Panthers. Dallas is expected to assign approximately 15 players to Utah, while Florida could deliver five or six.
"We're really excited," said Hay, who is wrapping up his work assisting the parent Stars in their training camp. "With Dallas signing so many free agents that means some quality young players will be coming to Utah."
Last week's terrorist activities cost Hay a prime opportunity to work with the hand he'll likely be dealt this season. A game between prospects from Dallas and Florida that was scheduled to precede an exhibition featuring the Stars and Panthers was canceled Saturday.
Despite the tragedy that has impacted the country, Hay said the organization had a good week of camp.
"I don't think anything is ever going to be back to normal," Hay said. "But everybody here has been working hard."
Hay will return to Utah on Saturday to begin making preparations for Utah's training camp. The Grizzlies are scheduled to work out Sept. 26-29 at the Acord Ice Arena in West Valley City. The last day will feature an intrasquad scrimmage at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are currently on sale. Call 988-8000 for information.
Utah's regular season home opener is Oct. 13 against Milwaukee.
TRANSACTIONS: The Stars are expected to begin assigning players to Utah on Friday. Florida, meanwhile, has already sent right wing Sean O'Connor and defenseman Paul Elliot to the Grizz. The Panthers have a partial affiliation agreement — through Dallas — with Utah this season.