Wes Swinson had many great moments in an Augusta Lynx uniform, but fans will always remember him for "The Punch."
Memories of Swinson and his one-punch knockout of Greenville Grrrowl pest Yannick Jean three seasons ago are all Lynx fans have now. On Tuesday, Swinson signed a one-year deal with the Boretti Tigers, a team based in Amsterdam, in the Dutch Superleague.
"It would be great if I could stay here because my girlfriend is here and I love Augusta," said Swinson, who will reunite with former Lynx forward Paul Vincent, who signed with Boretti last week. "But unfortunately at this point, I'm 27, and it's time to move on and make some money overseas."
Lynx coach Jim Burton said Swinson was offered a contract for next season, but added that the opportunity to play for significantly more money in Europe was too good for him to pass up.
"Wes is someone I really like as a person and a hockey player, and I hate to see him go," Burton said. "But they pay good money over there to (Canadian and American) imports. I played several seasons (in Austria) myself, so I understand."
Swinson, a defenseman, was acquired by former Lynx coach Dan Wiebe in a December 1999 trade with the Greensboro Generals for rookie defenseman Mike Piersol. In 155 games with the Lynx, Swinson scored 15 goals, tallied 76 assists and totaled 331 penalty minutes. He missed more than 50 games because of injuries butplayed through considerable pain and was usually productive.
Swinson isn't ruling out the possibility of a return. The Dutch league season ends in late February, meaning he could return for the stretch run and possibly the playoffs.
Burton said that is a possibility if the Lynx have an opening. Swinson would be a veteran this season under East Coast Hockey League rules, which limit teams to only four players with 250 or more pro games.
"I would definitely like to return," said Swinson, one of the Lynx's assistant captains last season. "I love Augusta, and I love the fans. If they need somebody and I'm available, I would love it."
COYOTE 'D': The Lynx have no defensemen signed for the 2002-03 season, but Burton said Wednesday he expects two to five blueliners to come from their new parent club, the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes.
Burton would like to sign at least one experienced defenseman of his own to provide stability and leadership to the young Coyotes prospects. Former NHL defenseman David Wilkie seems like a perfect fit, but Burton said he "doesn't know if that's going to happen." Burton also hinted that defenseman Joe Vandermeer, acquired Dec. 3 from Richmond for enforcer Trevor Gillies, might not be back next season.
The Lynx also own the rights to defenseman Philippe Lakos, acquired May 31 from Pensacola to complete the Louis Dumont trade, but signing Lakos isn't a high priority now that the affiliation is in place. The same goes for Likit Andersson, who was an ECHL all-star in 2000-01 but was inconsistent last season and was considered a liability in his own end.
Earlier this month, defenseman Martin Lapointe signed with a team in England, while John Whitwell retired after four seasons on the Lynx blue line to become an assistant coach.
ONE TIMERS: Because of a league ruling, the Lynx have nothing to show for the trade that sent Jessie Rezansoff to the Mobile Mysticks for future considerations in December. The Lynx were supposed to receive forwards Mike Vigilante and John Sadowski at the end of the season, but all Mobile players were declared free agents after the team announced it was suspending operations next season before a move to suburban Atlanta in 2003-04. Vigilante signed earlier this month with Pensacola. ... The New Orleans Brass were granted a request to suspend operations for the 2002-03 season, but the league is allowing the team to continue its efforts to work out an arena deal to play next season. ... The league on Monday approved the sale of the Louisiana IceGators to Dave Berryman and Orlando Predators Entertainment.