The Bridgeport Sound Tigers had their team golf outing earlier this week, and already wing Mike Iggulden
was in midseason form.
He loosened the ties that held teammate Joe Callahan
's bag to his cart. When Callahan drove off, the bag tumbled out.
Callahan countered by secretly placing a large rock in Iggulden's bag, making it tough to lug around until Iggulden figured it out.
"I'd never really seen the rock in the bag (trick) before. I thought it was kind of fun," Iggulden said.
The veteran had no idea all the yuks he signed on for when he inked a free-agent deal with the Islanders in the offseason.
Shortly after his decision, New York pulled Scott Gordon
away from Providence to coach up top. Gordon's P-Bruins were second in the AHL last season with 280 goals. That free-wheeling system has trickled down to the Sound Tigers, where Iggulden, who spent his first three seasons in the San Jose organization, romped to the tune of 4 goals and 4 assists in his team's first 6 games.
"It's a lot more high-speed, up-tempo of a system. It's all about always moving your feet, going and going," said Iggulden, 25. "For someone who has some speed, it's a good system to be in. It's taking it to them. It's not sitting back."
If Iggulden's career has been about anything, it's about moving forward. He boosted his scoring totals each of his first three seasons -- from 48 to 57 to 66 points, respectively.
"I try to set my goals higher and higher each year. You build up more confidence," Iggulden said. "I'd love to have a point a game. That was sort of my goal before the year, or more than that."
His early pace would have him furthering that trend by miles. Unless, of course, Gordon and the Islanders help him raise a more important number -- one. As in the number of games San Jose gave him in his three years there.
"They were saying I needed to be more consistent, and sometimes a little more physical," Iggulden said. "But usually when I talked to them, it was positive. Nothing really ever came out of it."
Iggulden has probably seen the last of the links for a while. He'll be too busy trying to get the last laugh of another sort with his new organization.
Ryan's sad song
-- A few days after his much-publicized demotion from Anaheim to Iowa, second-year forward Bobby Ryan
insisted he had calmed down.
But just a little.
"You can only say the politically correct thing a few times before it gets a little thin. You have to look pretty hard for a silver lining in a situation like this," he said.
The situation to which he refers is one where potential is taking a back seat to economics.
Ryan outgrew the AHL after producing 49 points in 48 games for Portland last season and then tossing in 20 more in 16 playoff games. But as a bonus baby on a two-way deal for a Ducks squad pinched by the salary cap, Ryan was elbowed back down to the AHL in what Anaheim GM Brian Burke
told him was a decision he didn't want to make.
Ryan said his parting instructions from Burke were clear -- if he dominated in the minors he might be able to force the organization's hand into a recall or trade.
"It's frustrating when it comes down to it," said Ryan, the No. 2 pick in the 2005 draft. "They (Anaheim) gave me a list of things to do this summer. Not only did I do everything, I exceeded every expectation they had. If I just didn't play up to the way I was supposed to play, it would have been (understandable). They couldn't look me in the eye (when he was sent down), and that's what hurt."
Ryan is candid with his feelings, but however much they roil he isn't taking it out on the Chops. Through his first 5 games he contributed 2 goals and 5 assists.
"I have to play myself back in the NHL as quickly as I can," he said. "I'm here to play hard and see what happens."
Big shoes to fill
-- Hershey goalie
"It's a clean slate. I'm not going to compare myself to him (Cassivi). He did so much over the years. If you are putting so much pressure on you, you are stressing yourself out and your game is taking a step back."
-- Daren Machesney
got an early start on his work this season.
It came at the conclusion of the 2007-08 campaign, at the Bears' year-end players meeting. Machesney ran into veteran goalie Frederic Cassivi
, who realized his storied career in the AHL was probably over, gave some advice to the man slated to take his spot in the crease.
"He said do what you did last year, and build on it, and don't take a back seat to anybody," said Machesney, who went 22-10-2, 2.55, .916 as the No. 2 last season. "I haven't really even thought of it (replacing Cassivi) at all. I've focused on what I have to do. I'm pretty young in my career. I have to earn my keep."
That focus can't change the reality that the development of Machesney, 21, and any other Bears goalie who comes along in the next few years will be compared to the legacy of Cassivi.
Cassivi, who is playing in Germany this season, left the league with 232 career wins, fifth all time. He is also one of three goalies to win 16 games in a single postseason, pulling that off for the Calder Cup champ Bears in 2006.
Hershey is loaded again this season, a strong contender to roar out of the Eastern Conference and into the finals. Machesney has started 3-1, and his continued pursuit of consistency may be the only issue surrounding the team's potential dominance.
"It's a clean slate. I'm not going to compare myself to him. He did so much over the years," Machesney said. "If you are putting so much pressure on you, you are stressing yourself out and your game is taking a step back."
Around the AHL
-- San Antonio had eight players post multi-point games in its two contests last weekend. ... Hamilton won its first 4 games, breaking a franchise record for most consecutive wins to start a season. Goalie Marc Denis
, a veteran of 348 NHL games and a former Calder Cup champion with Hershey (1997), played all four of those contests and stopped 130 of 137 shots (.949). ... When Norfolk visits Grand Rapids on Sunday, it will mark their first meeting since Feb. 7, 2003. That's a stretch of five years, eight months and 19 days, the longest span between games against the same opponent in Griffins history. … Grand Rapids has gone 2-0-1-0 to open the year, marking the fifth-straight season that the team has played its first 3 games without suffering a regulation loss. ... Syracuse's win at Binghamton on Oct. 17 was its 18th in a row over two seasons, an AHL record. But the Crunch's 7-1 loss in Hershey on Oct. 18 was its first regulation loss in the regular season in exactly eight months, since a 5-0 defeat to Lake Erie on Feb. 18, 2008. The Crunch had earned a point in 26 consecutive regular-season contests (23-0-0-3). ... Albany, which scored only 5 shorthanded goals all of last season, has already netted 3 this season. ... Chicago (300) and Hartford (266) were two of the three highest-scoring teams in the AHL in 2007-08, but each posted just six goals in their first four games this season. ... A season after ranking 26th in the league in offense at 2.58 goals per game, Houston tallied 17 in its first 4 games (4.25 avg.).