Originally created 07/19/00

Hockey interest remains high



For more than an hour, the questions jumped onto the screen, leaving Lynx coach Scott MacPherson amazed by the interest in hockey during the dog days of summer.

Tuesday's live online chat with the Lynx's new bench boss and director of hockey operations, conducted by The Augusta Chronicle New Media, is certain to keep the fans' interest piqued.

When it came to questions about the status of players for next season, vague is one word to describe the bulk of the cautious MacPherson's cyber-responses.

"I want to be as honest and open with the fans as I can, but we're still in the process of finalizing deals with players for next season, and you can't go around saying you've signed this player or that player until you've got a signed contract in hand," said MacPherson, who was named Lynx coach on June 20.

The Lynx made official on Monday the procurement of MacPherson's first two players with the signing of defenseman Tom O'Connor and rookie forward Jason Shipulski.

MacPherson also acquired the rights to goaltender David Weniger in a trade with Dayton for future considerations, a move designed as an insurance policy in case Judd Lambert -- who started 54 of 70 regular-season games and all 12 playoff games last season -- moves on to the next level.

As for the return of players from last year's squad, MacPherson said during the chat that he plans to re-sign most of the team's nucleus -- including Lambert, forwards Lars Pettersen, Louis Dumont, Dean Tiltgen, Sandy Lamarre and Andrei Chouroupov and defensemen John Whitwell and Wes Swinson should be back next season.

There is still some uncertainty surrounding players from last year's club who are under contract with NHL teams. While it appears that forwards Jonas Soling (Vancouver) and Chris Thompson (New Jersey) are the only two NHL-contract players being pursued by Augusta, MacPherson could not guarantee during Tuesday's chat whether either player would be back.