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Flichel helping coach Laxdal pick up some slack

by Brian Compton
When he decides to put an end to what has been a solid playing career, Idaho Steelheads forward Marty Flichel just may begin a new one behind the bench.

Or, he may not.

But just in case he does go in that direction, the 33-year-old wants to get a head start.

Willing to provide Steelheads boss Derek Laxdal a helping hand, Flichel was really named a player/assistant for the club. Flichel is entering his sixth season with Idaho, where he put up 52 points (17 goals, 35 assists) in 2008-09. Flichel also helped the Steelheads win a Kelly Cup championship in 2007, averaging a point per game that postseason.

"A lot of teams have assistant coaches and he doesn't," Flichel said. "He puts in so many hours that I kind of just threw it out there. We'll see how it works out. I don't know how much responsibility (I'll have). He likes to take control, which a head coach should. Hopefully I can just help out and be that in-between guy with the players. Some players don't feel comfortable talking to the coach, so hopefully they can talk to me. I've played for him for four years, and I've learned a lot from him."

Much has changed in Flichel's personal life since he first joined the professional ranks in 1996 with the Dayton Bombers. Now a husband and father of two daughters, the Hodgeville, Saskatoon, native doesn't quite know if he wants to stay involved in hockey when he retires. Flichel and his family reside in Boise year-round.

"I've debated a little bit, I guess," Flichel said. "I thought about it more when I was a little younger, to be honest. I haven't thought a whole lot about it lately. I've got my family in Boise and I'm kind of set up here. It would have to be a pretty good opportunity to leave Boise."

For now, though, Flichel is committed to putting forth another solid season on the ice. He's tallied 103 goals over the last four seasons in Idaho, which competes in the always-challenging West Division. And as long as he continues to contribute, it appears as if Flichel doesn't have any intentions of hanging up the blades anytime soon.

"It's kind of a year-to-year thing," Flichel said. "As long as I'm healthy, it will play a big part. I was kind of banged up last year. If I can stay healthy and still contribute and play at the level I want to play at, who knows? I'm going to be here in Boise anyway. We'll just kind of take it year by year right now. When I started playing, I knew I was going to have a tough time quitting."

After winning the Kelly Cup two years ago, Idaho has experienced some hard times in the playoffs. Despite putting up solid numbers in the regular season -- they racked up 44 wins and 92 points in 2008-09 -- the Steelheads have dropped their last eight postseason contests.

"After the last couple of years of losing eight playoff games in a row, I think you want a fresh start," Flichel said. "We won it in '07 and we've had good regular seasons but we've struggled in the playoffs. That's kind of a goal of ours. We want to get a little bit better as far as that goes."

Around the ECHL -- The preseason gets under way on Oct. 7, with Johnstown visiting Wheeling and Alaska hosting Kalamazoo. ... The Cincinnati Cyclones signed defenseman Doug Krantz and rookie forward Kenton Dulle. ... Rookie goalie Mike Zacharias agreed to terms with the Ontario Reign. ... The Toledo Walleye have sold more than 2,200 season tickets as they enter their downtown, state-of-the-art facility. ... The Wheeling Nailers signed rookie forwards Jeff Martens and Derek Kitti. ... Left wing Adam Berti agreed to terms with the Gwinnett Gladiators. ... Aaron Slattengren, who spent much of last season in the AHL, signed with the Charlotte Checkers. Slattengren played in Augusta last year before the franchise folded. ... The South Carolina Stingrays re-signed defenseman Lyon Messier and forward Keith Johnson. Messier is the son of Hall of Famer Mark Messier. ... Forward Mark Cavosie agreed to terms with the Reading Royals. He spent all of last season in the AHL between Binghamton and Albany.

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