|Coyotes' center Mike Zigomanis is confident a stint in the AHL will benefit his career in the long run.
Mike Zigomanis highlight video
It’s about the only chunk of that the forward has caught this season.
Zigomanis joined the Rampage in the early stages of a 14-game road trip. The swing passed through Toronto, where San Antonio settled in for a few days. Zigomanis is from Toronto, so he had an extended chance to catch up with some family and friends.
“Oh yeah, it’s not bad at all,’’ he said. “I’ll call it a little vacation.’’
Unfortunately for Zigomanis, he hardly needed the rest.
Zigomanis was demoted after playing just four games for Phoenix since Dec. 13. He came to San Antonio equal parts puzzled, rusty and in search of an identity.
As a center last season, Zigomanis, 27, was a faceoff specialist who scored 14 goals for the Coyotes. When General Manager Don Maloney took over this season, Zigomanis was moved to wing and asked to be a fourth-line energy guy.
No problem, Zigomanis said. Just give me a role. But when his numbers tailed off -- two goals and one assist in 32 games -- so did his minutes. And it’s hard to be a sparkplug while watching from the stands.
“I did exactly what they wanted me to do. I just didn’t fit into what they need,’’ Zigomanis said. “I don’t think you are human if you’re not (upset). But what can you do? It takes a tough skin to play in this game. One second, they love you. The next second … you are on the outside looking in. If they don’t like what you are doing, you are going to get moved no matter what they say.’’
This season, Lindsay Kramer, NHL.com's AHL correspondent, profiles an up-and-coming player each week. Lindsay's AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com.
The glimmer of hope in Zigomanis’ predicament is that he’s seen all this before. He’s played in 166 NHL games, and had to scrap his way for nearly every shift.
In 2002-03, he played in 38 games for Lowell and 19 for Carolina. The next season, the split was 61 for Lowell and 17 for Carolina. In 2005-06, he skated in 21 games for Carolina, 11 for Lowell, two for St. Louis and 28 for Peoria. Last season’s 75 games with Phoenix was his first straight, extended shot in the NHL.
“I can do it again. I’m not worried about it,’’ he said. “It’s tough to make it. It’s a game that’s bigger than everybody else. Stick with it, try not to get frustrated. I’m 27 now. I have a lot of years ahead of me.’’
Redenbach looks to fit in -- Center Tyler Redenbach’s game is clearly at a level above the Central Hockey League. He’s shown that.
Now comes the matter of where Redenbach more appropriately fits in. The Grand Rapids Griffins hope it’s with them.
Last week, Grand Rapids sent right wing Adam Keefe to San Antonio in exchange for the loan of Redenbach from the Coyotes. At the time of the deal, Redenbach, 23, had 66 points in just 31 games with Arizona of the CHL and had ripped off a league-high 21-game point streak earlier this season.
“When I first got into town, I was very disappointed. I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was it was the CHL,’’ Redenbach said. “I made the best of it. It was fun, like when you were young. I didn’t feel like there was much pressure on me there. I knew if I could play well, I’d get an opportunity.’’
Everyone deserves another chance, especially when your earlier ones were so promising. During his 2005-06 rookie season with Providence, Redenbach was voted the Bruins’ rookie of the year after leading the club in games played (78) and plus-minus (plus-20) and placing third in scoring (58 points).
But last season, three injuries to his right knee had him splitting time among Providence, San Antonio and Phoenix of the ECHL. He eventually required surgery in April.
“You obviously want to go to the next level. But it (Arizona) isn’t a place you can’t stand playing,’’ he said. “I think every player who has been sent down by a team … you want to go and prove them wrong. That’s what drives a lot of people.’’
Rycroft’s time machine -- Time stood still for new Crunch forward Mark Rycroft when he walked into the home locker room of the Onondaga County War Memorial last week.
He could sense a certain familiarity to it, and to his new surroundings as a whole. That’s because they were basically unchanged from when his father, Al, played in that building for the Syracuse Blazers of the Eastern Hockey League in 1972-73 and the Eagles of the AHL in 1974-75.
“It reeks of hockey here, doesn’t it?’’ Mark said. “My dad played here for two years. Who wouldn’t want to play in a place their father played?’’
Mark, acquired in a trade from Lake Erie last month, said he called his dad and described the details of the War Memorial, pretty much matching them with what Al recalled. The home locker room is basically the same, as are the rustic lower level of seats in the stands.
In the background of a team photo from his dad’s Syracuse days, Mark, 29, remembers seeing the same stage end configuration of the horseshoe rink that’s still there. Even the locker room attendant, local legend Red Coughlin, 88, is still kicking around.
“I go, ‘Is this the same?’ ” He goes, ‘Yep,’ ’’ Mark said of his phone conversation with Al. “I don’t think the outside of the rink has changed much since he was here, right? It’s pretty wild. You have to keep the history. Tradition is a great thing.’’
The Crunch plan on honoring that past with a Blazers tribute night later this season. Mark is hoping to bring in Al from the family home in Penticton, British Columbia, for the occasion.
Around the AHL -- Three-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty, who spent the 1992-93 season in the AHL as a rookie with the Adirondack Red Wings, has signed a tryout with the Grand Rapids Griffins. … Albany’s Keith Aucoin tied a single-game franchise record with five assists in the River Rats’ 5-2 win over Syracuse on Feb. 1. …With just 52 seconds remaining in the third period of a game against Manitoba on Feb. 1, Hamilton’s Duncan Milroy scored to end a franchise-long goal-less drought at 199:55. … Bulldogs center Corey Locke had a goal and an assist to set and tie two major franchise scoring records in the ’Dogs’ 2-0 win on Feb. 2 at Manitoba. With the score, Locke became Hamilton’s all-time franchise leader in goals with 72, surpassing Brian Swanson and Tomas Plekanec who each had 71. With the helper, Locke tied Peter Sarno as Hamilton’s all-time leader with 123 assists. …The Falcons have dropped 10 of their last 15 road contests, but all five wins in that time have come at Lowell. … Including his 4-0-0 mark this season, Providence goaltender Jordan Sigalet is 23-5-3 lifetime in the regular season at his team’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center. … Six of Worcester’s Brad Staubitz’s 12 fighting majors this season have occurred against Manchester. … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 17-game regular-season home winning streak against Norfolk came to an end Feb. 2 when the Admirals topped the Penguins at Wachovia Arena. The streak spanned three years and 353 days. … In Griffins goalie Jimmy Howard’s last seven losses, the team’s offense has totaled five goals and has been shut out four times. … Bridgeport is 7-0 in shootouts this season, converting on 17 of 28 attempts (60.7 percent) while stopping 25 of 31 (80.6 percent); the league success rate for shooters this season is 33.1 percent. … The AHL’s eight West Division teams are a combined 70-31-2-6 (.710 points percentage) in games outside their division.