It's been a tumultuous 48 hours for the downtrodden Augusta Lynx.
From a punishing skate in the wee hours Sunday morning, to trade rumors hanging over their heads, to the release of forward Jason Gudmondson on Tuesday, all is not well as the Lynx (2-5-1) head back out on the road for three games in three nights, beginning Thursday night vs. the Florida Everblades.
"I'm not threatening anybody or trying to send any messages, but changes are going to made," Lynx coach Dan Wiebe said. "This is professional hockey. You're going to lose your job if your not performing. They're all on 24-hour contracts."
Disgusted by his team's 8-3 loss to expansion Greensboro on Saturday, Wiebe spent the five-hour bus ride home after the game discussing trades on his cell phone with coaches around the ECHL.
And, when the team arrived in Augusta, Wiebe had quite the surprise in store for his players. The bus arrived at the IceForum around 2:30 a.m., where the weary players suited up in pungent, sweat-soaked gear and were skated into the ice for two hours.
Most of the players, as well as trainer Brian Patafie -- a 22-year veteran of professional hockey -- said Wiebe's Sunday morning special was a first.
"I've played a lot of years of hockey, but that was the first time I've ever been on a team that skated after coming back from a road game," center Dean Tiltgen said. "Obviously, (Wiebe) thought it was something he had to do. It's hard to question him after an 8-3 game when we didn't play well against a team like Greensboro. That was a first for my career and I hope it's the last."
The mood was just as tense Monday at a team golf outing for local media, as players discussed the threat of personnel changes.
Wiebe said Tuesday he had spoken with or left messages for "just about every coach or player personnel director in the league" since Saturday's debacle, adding that he is close to finalizing at least one trade.
With the loss of leading scorer Wes Mason in an NHL trade last week, Wiebe is believed to be pursuing a veteran goal scorer.
"I'm confident I'll have something done by the weekend," said Wiebe. "We're waiting for a few things to fall into place."
The release of Gudmondson seemed to surprise few on Tuesday. Signed by Wiebe over the summer after scoring 31 goals in 27 games in Sweden last season, Gudmondson reported to training camp overweight and never got on track. He was used sparingly as a third-line winger, tallying just one assist in four games.
"I brought Jason in here hoping he would perform better than he has, and it didn't appear that he was going to be the type of guy I hoped he was going to be," Wiebe said. "He didn't show me he was going to be a producer for us, and guys who aren't producing aren't going to stick around."
Judd Lambert sat out both of the Orlando Solar Bears' games last weekend in Utah, but it looks like the Lynx goaltender will remain with the International League until next week at the earliest.
Lynx coach Dan Wiebe, however, is hoping Lambert (2-2-1, 3.26 goals-against average this season) will join the team for at least one of Augusta's three games in Florida this weekend.
The 25-year-old Lambert signed a 25-game contract last week with Orlando, the Atlanta Thrashers' IHL affiliate, but ended up sitting the bench after the Thrashers signed 10-year NHL veteran Rick Tabaracci and assigned him to the Solar Bears.
With Tabaracci nursing a hip flexor injury, Lambert may get at least one start for Orlando this week. The Bears face Cincinnati at home Thursday and Friday nights, then travel to face Cincinnati Saturday and again on Tuesday.
With rookie J-F Damphousse's confidence shaken further after Saturday's 8-3 loss in Greensboro and Lambert's status up in the air, Wiebe is also discussing with Syracuse coach Stan Smyl the possibility of bringing Mike Valley back for the weekend. Valley opened the season in Augusta but was assigned to the AHL team on Oct. 15.
Defenseman Clint Cabana resumed skating Tuesday and could be activated for Thursday's game vs. Florida. Cabana sprained his right ankle in a 4-2 loss in Birmingham on Cot. 29. The release of Gudmondson clears a roster spot for Cabana, should he be ready to go. ... Rookie defenseman Mike Piersol, on the 14-day IR since Nov. 8, said Monday he is still several weeks away from returning. Piersol pulled tendons in his left ankle while taking a slap shot in the loss to Birmingham. ... Rookie defenseman Dan Ronan, who opened the season with the Lynx, was traded from Augusta to Jackson and later traded from Jackson to Jacksonville, was waived by the Lizard Kings last Friday.
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