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Haydar glad to be back with Wolves

by Lindsay Kramer
Darren Haydar is feeling very refreshed these days.

He doesn't like it at all.

At this point of the off-season, the forward is usually still recovering from a long playoff run, resting tired legs and tending to an assortment of ailments. But there's none of that wear and tear now. Skating for Lake Erie last season, Haydar missed the playoffs for the first time in a pro career that began in 2002.

''Definitely, being finished in April was a wakeup call for myself,'' he said.

While there are certainly no guarantees about these things, Haydar has decided to hedge his bets for the next two seasons.

Haydar, 30, said he is returning to familiar ground by signing a two-year AHL deal with the Chicago Wolves, home to some of his greatest success. He played two seasons there, won one of his two Calder Cups and greatly furthered his case as the best AHL player of his time.

''It's an organization that likes to win. I felt I could go there and help and get back to winning again,'' he said. ''I want those expectations of going to the rink and expecting to win. I think for myself, I'm definitely comfortable being in Chicago.''

Haydar's laser focus on the finish line is understandable. He's the AHL's all-time leader in career playoff points (135) and goals (59) and is tied for first with Wolves teammate Jason Krog in assists (76).

Haydar said he strongly considered joining his talented age group peers overseas this year, but decided that tying himself to an AHL deal was a better career option because now any NHL team can sign him.

With Lake Erie last season, he was locked into Colorado -- perhaps too much so. Haydar produced 23 goals and 41 assists in 66 games for the Monsters, but admitted he became a little distracted when he was rewarded with just one NHL game.

He said the difference now is that he accepts he'll be in Chicago, a freedom that may in turn elevate his play enough to get him promoted out of there.

''I'm sure, to some degree, it affected my play (last season). You see all these guys going up, you are not one of them, you wonder why,'' he said. ''I think the guys who do well are those who are able to let it (worrying) go from their mind. I had to be ready to know I'll be (in Chicago). This year, whatever happens, happens.''

Buddies united?: Longtime workout buddies Corey Perry, Adam Perry and Danny Syvret almost always have something to say to each other, ranging from golf to hockey to the good old days.

''Everybody is razzing the other guy about something,'' Syvret said. ''It's easy to push the other guy's button.''

It will be even easier this coming season, since they could be in close proximity at varying times.

Adam Perry, a forward, is the younger brother of Ducks star Corey Perry. Adam has signed an AHL deal with Syracuse, Anaheim's new AHL affiliate. He was one of the best players in the ECHL last season, going 30-48-78 for Utah.

Syvret, a defenseman, signed a two-way deal with the Ducks last week. He is close to the Perrys because all three played for the star-studded London team that won the Memorial Cup in 2004-05. Syvret captained that team, and the trio have remained friends ever since.

''It's weird how it all worked out, for sure,'' Syvret said. ''It's pretty exciting. It didn't really have an influence on my (signing) decision at all. Corey, he wouldn't try to influence me until I signed. Then he sounded pretty happy.''

For Syvret to log some minutes with Corey in Anaheim this season, he'll have to keep ignoring that golf ball-size bump on his left shoulder and bounce back from a tough 2009-10.

The souvenir dates back to January, when he was playing for the Flyers. Syvret was hit from behind by Dallas' Steve Ott, basically blowing out the left shoulder and fully separating his collarbone. He said the sensation of ligaments tearing was the sensation of Velcro being yanked apart.

But the pain was nothing compared to what the injury represented. Syvret was just beginning to settle into an NHL role -- he played 21 games with Philadelphia -- and had scored his first career NHL goal in the Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park.

"It's an organization that likes to win. I felt I could go there and help and get back to winning again. I want those expectations of going to the rink and expecting to win. I think for myself, I'm definitely comfortable being in Chicago."
-- Darren Haydar

"It couldn't have come at a worse time,'' he said. "It seemed like my confidence was going up. My minutes were going up.''

Syvret fought back to finish the season, although with Adirondack of the AHL. The lump on his shoulder is natural, he said, a result of the extreme separation of the bones. They have healed and grown back, it's just that the ends that are supposed to re-connect have veered off a little bit.

"It's strong and everything,'' he said. "But it looks gross.''

Syvret said he was encouraged because he believes he'll be battling some other two-way guys for the final spots in the Ducks' rotation. That puts him on even contractual footing, as opposed to trying to supplant some one-way players.

"They said they will have their D set for training camp, and there will be a spot or two open,'' he said. "That's one of the spots I have to win in training camp. I feel like I have a good, fair crack at making the team.''

Learning the ropes: Darryl Sydor is taking the rest of the summer to figure out what this whole AHL thing is all about. He never played in the league -- or anywhere else in the minors, for that matter. But he still has the body of work to suggest he'll be able to coach in it.

Sydor was recently named an assistant coach with Houston after retiring from an NHL career that included 18 seasons, 1,291 games and two Stanley Cups. The former defenseman will work under new Aeros coach Mike Yeo.

''I think the on-ice stuff is going to be easy. I think the behind the scenes stuff, that will be learning for me,'' said Sydor, 38. ''I know there's going to be ups and downs, just like I (had) as a player. It's how you deal with them. I believe I'm ready for it. But I'm not going to step behind the bench and believe I know everything.''

Sydor said he's been calling several of his former coaches to ask for advice about the transition.

''You have to be open-minded. You have to have separation from player to coach now,'' he said. ''It (coaching) has maybe been in the back of your head for a couple of years. It was just time to step away from the game and give back When the game comes around and you're not on the ice to change the outcome, it's going to take some adaptation.''

A new beginning: Jim Johnson thought winning three out of every four games and turning Norfolk into a playoff contender last season would be enough to at least earn him the right to talk about coming back as coach of the Admirals in 2010-11.

Apparently that currency didn't count for much with Tampa Bay's new administration.

Johnson was let go as Norfolk's boss last week, well into a summer in which it seemed like a given that he'd be back. He helped run Tampa Bay's prospects camp earlier in the month, and said new Lightning GM Steve Yzerman made not a peep about any change.

And what would be up for discussion? Johnson was promoted from assistant to coach on Jan. 17 and went 15-5-1-1 the rest of the way, narrowly missing the postseason. He was also called up for a short time as a Tampa Bay assistant.

But when Yzerman called Johnson last week, the boss said he wanted to bring in his own people and that Johnson would not be part of that inner circle.

 ''I was looking forward to returning to Norfolk. To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed,'' Johnson said. ''I was really pleased with the progress our prospects made. I know what I'm capable of doing and am looking forward to another opportunity. It's not an ideal situation at this point, but we'll make the best of it.''

Around the AHL: In other coaching news, Chuck Weber has been named new coach of the Rochester Americans. Weber, 37, directed Cincinnati of the ECHL to a 177-92-19 record and two Kelly Cups (2008 and 2010) during his four seasons at the helm.

''I thought (this year) might have opened some doors for me. I think it would have been tough if I hadn't gotten a chance (as an AHL head coach) after this year,'' Weber said.

Manchester has extended the contracts of coach Mark Morris and assistant Scott Pellerin, who have been the leaders of the Monarchs for the last four seasons and coached the team to 170 regular-season wins, 115 loss, 15 overtime losses and 20 shootout losses.

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