It's official: for the second time in three seasons, Jessie Rezansoff is an ex-Lynx.
A casualty of the ECHL veteran rule, Rezansoff was traded Wednesday to the Mobile Mysticks for future considerations.
It was a move Lynx coach Jim Burton agonized over for two days. But it also was a necessary evil, since it opens a veteran spot on the roster for newly-acquired center Jeff Bes.
"I really hate this," Burton said. "Jessie's a great person and a great character guy on our hockey club. I really do like him a lot, and I hope he knows that. But it came down to numbers. It wasn't anything other than that."
ECHL rules permit teams to carry a maximum of four veterans, which is defined as a player with 240 or more pro games.
With Tuesday's trade for the high-scoring Bes - who comes over from Mississippi in exchange for defenseman Jim Baxter and future considerations - Burton needed to unload a vet. Rezansoff was the obvious choice.
Augusta's other veterans are captain and leading scorer Scott Morrow; one of the best defensive centers in the league, Guy Larose; and former NHL defenseman David Wilkie, arguably the top blueliner in the ECHL.
"You knew they had to move a vet, and I guess it was pretty obvious it had to be me," Rezansoff said. "It's tough, because I love it here. I love the city and the fans have been great to me. That's why I came back. Who knows? Maybe I'll be back again."
The 25-year-old Rezansoff still has two games remaining on a five-game ECHL-imposed suspension for leaving the bench to fight Columbus' Jerome Bechard in a 4-3 overtime loss Nov. 29. He is eligible to return to the lineup for the Mysticks on Monday when they play host to the Florida Everblades.
HEAD OF CLASS: Goalie Cris Classen hasn't played a game in three weeks and the frustration is mounting.
With two NHL-contracted goalies on Augusta's roster - Zac Bierk (Phoenix) and Gregg Naumenko (Anaheim) - Classen has been relegated to injured reserve. Burton wants to keep him around because he expects one of his NHL goalies to be recalled soon.
Classen doesn't know how much longer he can wait. Retirement is a distinct possibility.
"I'm at a point now that it's not the end of the world if nothing happens," Classen said. "I'm going to decide soon what I'm going to do. If something doesn't change, I'll probably go to New England and look for a job.
When Judd Lambert went down with a season-ending knee injury in early November, Classen did an admirable job filling in. But the grind of playing every night took its toll on the second-year pro.
Burton scrambled to bring in Bierk. But when Phoenix reassigned him to AHL Springfield for a week, the Lynx coach landed Naumenko. When Bierk was reassigned to Augusta, Classen was the odd-man out.
"Jim's in a tough spot, as well, and the NHL clubs tell him they want their goalies to play," said Classen, who is 5-3-2 with a 3.48 goals-against average in 10 starts. "Jim's been very good to me, and I appreciate all he's done. But I'm not sure I can keep going with the way things are."
Burton thinks the problem could be solved, perhaps as early as today.
"One of the NHL guys might be going up," Burton said Wednesday. "That's why I don't want to see Classy go. Plus, I really like him. I want guys that have some pride in playing here. I know I'll get that with Classy."
FRANCHISE MOVE: According to published reports out of Beaumont, Texas, ECHL president Rick Adams is part of an ownership group that plans to transfer the dormant Huntington, W.Va., franchise there and begin play in 2003. The team also will be owned by NHL Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and David Lefevre.
Adams, whose contract with the league runs through the end of the 2003-04 season, will likely step down as league president. Approval of the Beaumont franchise is expected to come at the league meetings during the ECHL All-Star Game next month in Trenton, N.J.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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