Louis Dumont showed Augusta Lynx fans his flair for the dramatic last season. Apparently, the high-scoring veteran also is a master of suspense.
The conspicuous absence of a contract signed by Dumont certainly kept the Lynx in suspense the past few weeks. But with 10 days to go before the opening of training camp, Dumont's contract finally arrived in the Wednesday mail, meaning the popular and productive winger will return for a second season in Augusta.
The 27-year-old Dumont scored 26 goals and tallied 37 assists for 63 points in 44 games for Augusta last season. He joined the Lynx on Dec. 10 after beginning the 1999-2000 season playing for a team in Scotland.
In 362 career games in the East Coast Hockey League, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound native of Calgary, Alberta, has scored 179 goals while averaging more than one point a game.
"Everyone negotiates differently, but I knew that we had a deal," general manager Paul Gamsby said of the delay in Dumont's signing. "Would I have liked to have a deal done a month ago? Yes, but I didn't get the feeling that Louis was trying to go and play somewhere else. He knows how I feel about him and that we wanted him back, and I was confident all along that we would work something out."
Dumont presently is in training camp with the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League and is expected to join the Lynx when training camp opens on Sept. 30.
The Lynx have 17 players under contract for the 2000-01 season.
Gamsby wouldn't discuss the terms of the deal, but Dumont will be one of the team's player-assistant coaches this season. A portion of a player-assistant's salary does not count against the league salary cap, and teams generally use their two PA spots to pay veteran players with higher salary demands.
"He has been in the league a long time, and guys like Louis and (forward Scott) Morrow and (defenseman Denis) Chervyakov are going to command more money," Gamsby said. "I think Louis is happy with his deal. I know I'm happy."
KOPEC COMEBACK? Is former Lynx captain Dan Kopec thinking about playing this season after all? Dayton coach Greg Ireland hopes so, and says he will try to convince the veteran defenseman to come out of retirement and play for the Bombers.
The Lynx traded Kopec's rights to Dayton on Tuesday to complete an earlier trade -- in July, Augusta acquired the rights to goaltender David Weninger for future considerations.
"We've got a veteran spot open, and Dan's a tough, physical defenseman who would fit in nicely with our hockey team," Ireland said. "I heard rumors that we was getting the itch to play again and might be willing to come back. We're taking a chance by taking him in this trade, but I think it's a chance worth taking."
Regardless of Kopec's intentions, the Lynx had no plans to retain the 27-year-old defenseman. New coach Scott MacPherson already has signed several all-star caliber defensemen, including Denis Chervyakov and Tom O'Connor, meaning the one-dimensional Kopec would have been hard pressed to crack the top six on the Lynx blueline.
GODFATHER ON ICE: James Brown will sing the national anthem on opening night Oct. 13 at the Civic Center.
Tickets for opening night and all Lynx home games will go on sale beginning Saturday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster or at the Civic Center box office.
Charge tickets by phone using Ticketmaster at (706) 828-7700 or at www.ticketmaster.com, beginning Saturday.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.