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St. Pierre happy and productive back in the AHL

by Lindsay Kramer

Martin St. Pierre is dominating the AHL like he never left it. In his first 14 games back, he contributed seven goals and 13 assists.
Athletes these days routinely are dismissed when they pull out the old “it’s not about the money’’ crutch when explaining a career decision.

Rockford IceHogs center Martin St. Pierre took that money and literally put it where his mouth is.

About $500,000 worth, to be precise.

That’s the amount St. Pierre said he gave up in salary to cut short his season in Russia this year and return to the AHL, with the IceHogs. After 13 exhibition games and 14 regular-season games in Russia, St. Pierre said he decided the career opportunity there just wasn’t what he had expected.

“On the ice, they have their guys they want to play. If they don’t like you, they don’t play you,’’ he said. “Off the ice, the language barrier is hard. You can’t really talk to anybody. All in all, it kind of snowballed. Enough is enough. It kind of makes you realize money isn’t everything.’’

St. Pierre, 24, asked for and got his release, then found a willing new/old employer in the Chicago Blackhawks. St. Pierre ripped off 99 points for then-Chicago farm team Norfolk last season. Chicago now uses the IceHogs as its affiliate.

St. Pierre is dominating the AHL like he never left it. In his first 14 games back, he contributed seven goals and 13 assists. In his last 83 regular-season AHL contests, he has a tidy 125 points (37 goals, 88 assists).

“I think I have proven myself. I do have a good background here,’’ he said. “I’m waiting for my opportunity. It will come. I just have to be patient.’’

St. Pierre had a few travel tips for players who have run out of that attribute in their own careers and are looking to go overseas.

“I’ve heard great things about Europe,’’ he said. “But money is not everything. Double-check your decision. You’re there to play hockey. If you’re not happy on and off the ice, you’re just digging a hole deeper and deeper, and sometimes you can’t get out of it.’’

Crunch time yields trade -- With just six wins in its first 16 games, the Syracuse Crunch had to fall back on a tried-and-true formula for success last week.

It tapped the Anaheim organization for another blockbuster trade.

In this case, parent-club Columbus sent popular scorer Geoff Platt to the Ducks for a pair of Portland defensemen, Aaron Rome and Clay Wilson.

In scope, at least, it mirrored the swap last year when the Blue Jackets shipped high-scoring forwards Mark Hartigan and Joe Motzko to Anaheim for Curtis Glencross and Zenon Konopka. That trade injected some much-needed life into Syracuse, although it still failed to make the playoffs.

This deal, from the Crunch’s perspective, must bolster one of the worst defenses in the AHL. The gamble was in giving up a proven finisher like Platt, a third-year pro who tallied 30 and 28 goals, respectively, the past two seasons.

“The kid (Platt) has earned everything. He worked his tail off,’’ said Chris MacFarland, assistant to Columbus GM Scott Howson. “They (Anaheim) wanted him. It’s not like we wanted to get rid of Geoff Platt. We had depth up front. We gave up a good player and we feel we got a couple of good players back.’’

Platt, who tallied four goals and three assists in 15 games with the Crunch, seems invigorated. He chipped in with three goals and three assists in his first three games with Portland.

“I think I’ve been put in the right opportunity and have some great teammates,’’ Platt said. “You want to impress your new teammates and new coaches.’’

Lisin is listening -- San Antonio must not seem like such a bad place to Rampage wing Enver Lisin now. At least he’s decided to give it a try this season.

That’s more than could be said for last year. Lisin, a second-round pick by Phoenix in 2004, played 17 games for the Coyotes in 2006-07. But when he was farmed out to San Antonio, he bolted to play in his native Russia.

Lisin looks more amenable this season. He came back to the organization with the understanding that he might have to start in the AHL, and has seven goals and five assists through his first 17 games with the Rampage.

“Enver has been very receptive. He’s understanding there’s a process,’’ said Brad Treliving, Phoenix’s assistant GM. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s learning the game, and the best place for him to learn the game is the American Hockey League. He brings a lot of traits that are God-given ability. He’s got those offensive instincts that few players have.’’

Around the AHL -- Providence goaltender Jordan Sigalet collapsed during the third period of a game with the Worcester Sharks on Nov. 16. Sigalet, who has multiple sclerosis, is steadily improving, according to The Providence Journal, although the cause of the episode remains unknown. … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton right winger Jonathan Filewich missed a Nov. 14 game against the Philadelphia Phantoms because of injury, bringing his consecutive games played streak to a halt at 93. … Hamilton defenseman Ryan O’Byrne missed the first game of his professional career on Nov. 17 after playing in all 102 of the Bulldogs’ regular and postseason games last year, his rookie season, and in all 14 previous contests so far this season. … Hartford posted victories over Norfolk, Hamilton, Lowell and Portland last week, winning four games in a five-day stretch for the first time since Dec. 27-31, 2000. … Denis Hamel passed Jason Spezza on the Binghamton Senators’ all-time assist list with a helper on Lawrence Nycholat’s goal against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Nov. 18. The assist gave Hamel 118 in a B-Sens uniform. Hamel already holds the franchise marks in points (250) and goals (132). .. The Phantoms now have won 10 consecutive games over Binghamton – an eight-game season sweep last year and the first two games of this year’s eight-game series, including a 6-3 decision on Nov. 16. … Syracuse gave up five unanswered goals for the third time this season Oct. 16 against Toronto. … Albany’s Keith Aucoin and Peoria’s Trent Whitfield both enter the week one point shy of 400 for their AHL careers. Aucoin has 127 goals and 272 assists in 406 games, while Whitfield has compiled 160 goals and 239 assists in 482 contests. The leading career AHL scorer among active players is San Antonio defenseman Bryan Helmer, with 439 points in 797 games. … Mike Santorelli scored a pair of one-on-one goals – one on a penalty shot and one in the shootout – against San Antonio’s Josh Tordjman in the Admirals’ 4-3 win on Nov. 16. ... Manitoba has allowed the game’s first goal nine times in its last 10 games, but is 7-3-0-0 in that time.

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