Coach Jim Burton's plans for the Augusta Lynx in 2002-03 remain in a holding pattern, at least for the time being.
"We can't really move forward until that one thing is taken care of," Burton said.
That 'thing' is the long-discussed affiliation with the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes. It's a partnership Burton and the Lynx want in the worst way. For now, though, the Coyotes' position remains unclear.
"We've been talking to them lately about once a week, and I'm hopeful we can get it done," Burton said. "We'd love to get it moving along."
Phoenix's working agreement with the ECHL's Mississippi Sea Wolves expired at the end of the season. The Sea Wolves also have an affiliation with Montreal.
"If we get the affiliation, it means we'll get better, contracted players in here, and it also will make it easier to recruit," Burton said. "When you can guarantee guys an (American Hockey League) tryout, it makes it a lot easier to get them."
COACHING CAROUSEL: One of the seven ECHL teams in the market for a head coach filled its vacancy Tuesday, with the South Carolina Stingrays promoting assistant coach Jason Fitzsimmons to the top spot.
The 30-year-old Fitzsimmons, a former goalie who led the Stingrays to their first Kelly Cup in 1997 and won playoff MVP honors, has been an assistant the past four years. He takes over for Rick Adduono, who was fired two weeks ago after four seasons.
Baton Rouge, Cincinnati, Reading, Toledo, Greensboro and Richmond all are still looking for a coach.
Near or at the top of Richmond general manager Paul Gamsby's wish list was Macon Whoopee coach Gord Dineen. But, according to sources, Dineen will be named coach of the new American Hockey League team in San Antonio.
The logical choice now is Adduono, who went 156-94-34 and won a Kelly Cup with the Stingrays last year.
Richmond fans were hard on former coach Mark Kaufman, and Gamsby likely wants an established coach with a 'name' to appease the restless Renegades faithful.
Adduono certainly fits that bill, but the former Lynx GM wouldn't comment.
"We talked to a lot of candidates, and should have a coach by the beginning of next week," Gamsby said.
THOMPSON OUT: With his Dayton Bombers down 2-0 to Greenville in the Kelly Cup Finals, former Lynx Chris Thompson was suspended by the ECHL for Games 3 and 4 for hitting the Grrrowl's David Bell from behind in Game 2. The series resumes with Game 3 tonight in Dayton.
ONE-TIMERS: Rumored as a possible candidate for extinction, the Baton Rouge Kingfish are coming back in 2002-03 after signing a three-year arena lease. ... Jackson Bandits officials say they cannot survive much longer without a new arena. Scheduling conflicts at the Mississippi Coliseum has forced the Bandits on to the road for more than a month at a time the past two seasons. ... The fate of the troubled Greensboro Generals is expected to be decided at the league meetings next month in Las Vegas. Same goes for the New Orleans Brass, whose future at the New Orleans Arena is in jeopardy now that the NBA's Charlotte Hornets are on their way. ... Troy Ward resigned as the ECHL's senior vice president of hockey operations Tuesday to accept an assistant coaching position at the University of Wisconsin. Ward was the ECHL's coach of the year with the Trenton Titans in 2000-01 before becoming the league's chief disciplinarian this season.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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