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Greentree switching coasts, heading to Calgary

by Lindsay Kramer

With his recent trade to Calgary, forward Kyle Greentree is looking forward to getting a fresh start closer to his hometown in British Columbia.
Forward Kyle Greentree was literally leaving Las Vegas earlier this week when he found out that, for the second time in as many seasons, a team wanted to take a chance on him.

The first gamble, by the Flyers, worked out pretty well. Calgary hopes its spin of the wheel pays off even bigger.

Calgary acquired Greentree, 24, in exchange for defenseman Tim Ramholt. As a rookie for the Phantoms this season, Greentree led the team with 24 goals. While Philadelphia signed him as an undrafted free agent, Greentree takes a little more cache to his second pro home.

"I wasn't expecting it. I was comfortable there in Philly," said Greentree, who was taking a break to visit family in Sin City. "It's probably not the last time I'm going to get traded. It's a new opportunity for me to establish myself."

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Greentree left his mark with the Phantoms in a number of ways. He was a winger on an outstanding line with Jonathan Matsumoto and Darren Reid. And in a five-overtime playoff game vs. Albany, he took an astounding 17 shots.

"I figured I had a good year in the AHL. Now, it's time to step back and go to an organization that wants me," Greentree said. "It's a long 80 games (in an AHL season). If I could take one thing (from his rookie year), I'd definitely want to be consistent. I feel like I could bring a lot to the table. I have a feel for the longer season, what my body takes to play well."

Part of that equation figures to be the comfort of playing near familiar turf. Greentree, from Victoria, B.C., sees himself as skating for a spot in something of a hometown organization.

"Western Canada is close to my hometown. Growing up in Western Canada, you always follow the Canucks and the Flames," he said. "It's good to get back on the West Coast and get a fresh start."
Westcott couldn't come up big -- By the time defenseman Duvie Westcott started playing the brand of defense that Columbus prefers from its blueliners, it was probably too late.
The surest sign of that was that at the time, Westcott was plying his trade with the Syracuse Crunch.

So it ranked as no surprise last week when Columbus put the NHL vet on waivers with the intent of buying out the remaining two years of his contract. Westcott was a crucial factor in the Syracuse locker room late in the season, and a surprisingly rugged and hard-hitting force in the playoffs.

His value apparently fell short of the $1.85 million the Blue Jackets would have owed him each of the next two seasons, though.

"My goal when I was with Syracuse was to improve and hopefully get a chance in Columbus," Westcott said. "I tried to play that brand of (physical) hockey. I was really disappointed (being let go). It wasn't something in my control. They have their own plans and I wasn't in them."

Westcott, 30, had played in Columbus almost full time since 2002-03, but he saw the turn in his career coming when Ken Hitchcock took over behind the bench last season. At 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Westcott doesn't fit Hitchcock's classic mold of blueliners.

"The team has taken a different direction with Hitch as head coach," Westcott said. "He prefers to have bigger defensemen. He didn't really see me in the mix. Hopefully, I can catch on with another team. I've never been more motivated to get back to the NHL than I am right now."
Wanting a one-way ticket --
Martin St. Pierre hopes the only move he has to make this season is from Rockford to Chicago. He's prepared to go a lot farther, though.

Like many veteran players this time of year, St. Pierre is locked in something of a stare down with his organization. The center has been one of the AHL's most dangerous scorers the past three seasons for Norfolk and Rockford, producing 73, 99 and 88 points, respectively, the past three seasons.

Chicago wants that type of depth in the organization, naturally. It has used him for 21 NHL games and qualified him for 2008-09. But St. Pierre wants a one-way deal, and so far the Blackhawks have said no.

Meanwhile, teams from Switzerland and Russia have been whispering in the ear of the 24-year-old St. Pierre, with offers of far greater riches than he'd make in the AHL. So far, St. Pierre has been tuning them down. But when asked his gut feeling about where he'll be playing this season, he planted himself firmly on the fence.

"I want to get to a point where I can play there (the NHL) full time. I told them I'll do anything," St. Pierre said. "I would have thought by now (he'd have a one-way deal). I don't think it's going to go the way I want, but you never know. If it doesn't work out, then I'll swallow that pill and head to Europe."
Andrews extended as president --
Given the chance to keep a winning team together, the AHL's Board of Governors didn't hesitate.

Although president Dave Andrews had a couple of years left on his current pact, the league last week took advantage of a re-opening clause to hand him a five-year extension that will keep him in charge at least through 2012-13. Andrews has been the league boss since 1994.

"I feel fortunate to be in this position for 14 years. I've never looked that far ahead," Andrews said. "It's been a terrific opportunity. There's been so much change. It's been a continuing cycle of strategic plans. This (job) hasn't become routine."

There's plenty on Andrews' plate to keep it from becoming that way any time soon. Asked about the immediate challenges of his job, Andrews rattled off several.

The most important may be bringing the 30-team NHL into a 1-to-1 affiliation match with the 29-team AHL. Currently, there is one inactive AHL franchise, owned by Edmonton. The likely scenario there is for the Dallas Stars to purchase it and move it to Austin, Texas.

Andrews also sees the 80-game AHL schedule eventually getting sliced to 72. The Board of Governors vetoed that move for now, but Andrews thinks it will be revisited.

"It's not going away," he said. "We're going to look if there's support of phasing it in over a couple of years. It's an initiative that has a lot of support in the NHL and in our league."

Acting upon an NHL request, the AHL agreed to alter the length of minor penalties in overtime, cutting them from two minutes to one minute. The AHL rejected that proposal last year. The thinking behind the NHL's request is that with 4-on-3 power plays more likely to succeed than 5-on-4 power plays, a two-minute penalty in overtime can carry too much weight in deciding the outcome.

The league also reversed itself by adopting a delay of game penalty when a player, in his defensive zone, flips the puck directly into the crowd. The AHL tried this rule in 2002-03, but it was disliked and quickly voted out the next season. But the NHL has maintained this rule, and the AHL decided that for the sake of consistency for the players it should bring it back.

"There are hockey people in both leagues who don't like it," Andrews said of the rule. "But it's not going away in the NHL."

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