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Move south should be a good one for Desjardins

by Lindsay Kramer
After he was traded from the Montreal organization to Tampa Bay earlier this week, the phone of goalie Cedrick Desjardins was overloaded with messages from well-wishers.

The outpouring of support and curiosity caught him off-guard.

"I was surprised. For a guy who plays in the AHL, so many people called. I have a lot of friends," he said. "Also, there's nothing really going on (news-wise). So that's probably it."

Desjardins drastically undersells himself. When one of the AHL's best goalies gets a new address at this point in the summer, it tends to grab attention.

Playing for Hamilton last season Desjardins, 24, led the AHL in goals-against average (2.00), ranked second in shutouts (six), tied for fourth in wins (29) and was tied for sixth in save percentage (.919). The effort earned him a spot on the league's second all-star team.

The breakout season -- coming in his fourth with the organization -- brought Desjardins all the security of an ice cube on a summer sidewalk. The Canadians retained Curtis Sanford for Hamilton and are high on prospect Robert Mayer.

With little chance for Desjardins to compete for the No. 3 spot in the system, Montreal sent him to the Lightning. While he's likely slotted as the No. 1 in Norfolk, Desjardins has friends in Tampa Bay. New coach Guy Boucher held the same role in Hamilton last season, and assistant GM Julien BriseBois had been the general manager of the Bulldogs.

"Montreal didn't have a short-term solution for me. I said, 'Could you find another place?' By my surprise, Tampa Bay called first," Desjardins said. "I needed a year like (last year) to have a chance to make it. I've been treated very well (by Montreal). At the same time, I know I'm going to an organization that has a great future in front of them."

It's also similar to the one he's leaving in that there's a potential traffic jam in net. Desjardins might first take the crease as the Admirals' starter, but the organization will look for any excuse to feed minutes to prospects Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus.

"That's a good thing. When you have a lot of good goalies, you have to be strong," Desjardins said. "That's the way it was in Montreal. I expect guys to be pushing me, and I expect to push guys, too. I'm going there to be ready. I'm looking forward to going to Norfolk and being consistent."

Henry happy to be back in Hamilton -- While the ending to last season remains a bitter one in Hamilton, it's also one of the reasons defenseman Alex Henry will be wearing a Bulldogs sweater again in 2010-11.

Montreal takes such comfort in the stabilizing presence of the 30-year-old Henry that it has signed him for two more seasons. The 6-foot-6, 231-pound bedrock likely will retain his captaincy and help put together a spirit broken right on the doorstep of the Calder Cup finals last season.

The Bulldogs were by far the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season. In the conference finals Hamilton held a 3-2 series lead against Texas, with the last two games scheduled for Copps Coliseum. But the Stars rallied for a pair of wins in hostile territory to claim a spot in the finals.

"I think we'll have more experience this year making that run, we'll know what the playoffs are about," Henry said. "Taking pride in the team is something you look forward to when you have that responsibility (of being captain). Maybe that's one of the reasons I came back. It would have been nice to get to the finals. As the years go by, you realize sometimes you don't make the playoffs. Sometimes you don't get far. To be that close, it's a little tough. You don't know when you're going to get another chance."
Shortening the lines of communication in San Antonio -- Several years ago, Jeff Truitt and Ray Edwards used to talk all the time.

Truitt coached Kelowna of the WHL, while Edwards coached in the ECHL. Comparing notes on various players was a natural.

They stayed in touch as friends over time, but communicating never has been as easy as it will this season. The two will be right down the bench from each other -- Edwards has hired Truitt as his assistant in San Antonio.

"Now we can come together and work together. It's a real bonus for me," Truitt said. "It was a tremendous opportunity. These opportunities don't come along very often."

Even with the Edwards connection, it still wasn't a given Truitt would take the job. The last time Truitt was behind an AHL bench, he was in charge. That was in 2008-09, when he was coached Springfield for 50 games before he was replaced mid-season.

Last season he was director of hockey operations for Moose Jaw of the WHL. Phoenix made a pitch for him to help out in San Antonio, and Truitt decided that starting over as second in command in the AHL was the way to go.

"You understand what's being asked of you. I'm not pushing any buttons," he said. "We'll see where it goes. I think we're in a little better situation when it comes to cultivating that winning atmosphere (in San Antonio). It felt right. In this business, sometimes the feel is what it's all about.''
Monarchs fan will get to be king of Zatkoff's mask
-- One creative Manchester fan will have a chance to leave their mark on the Monarchs this season, specifically on goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

The team is holding a contest asking fans to design the mask Zatkoff will wear at home games in 2010-11. The field will be narrowed to five finalists, with Zatkoff choosing the winner. At the end of the season, the mask will be raffled off for Zatkoff's favorite charity, the Lupus Foundation of America.

Zatkoff's one tip: He wants a look that incorporates both Manchester and parent club Los Angeles.

"At first I was a little nervous. That's the one piece of equipment I like designing," he said of his mask. "After I took a step back and thought about it, there's going to be enough (entrants) so I can pick one design I like. It will be interesting. I don't know what to expect. I've never really done this before."

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