Chris Thompson is coming home.
More than two years after he was sent packing in one of the most controversial trades in Augusta Lynx history, Thompson was re-acquired by the Lynx from the Dayton Bombers along with all-star forward Andrew Ianiero in exchange for forwards Patrick Yetman and Lance Galbraith.
With the ECHL trade deadline coming today at noon, Lynx coach David Wilkie also addressed another big need, acquiring talented defenseman Philippe Roy - who has 11 goals and 19 assists in 56 games - from the Johnstown Chiefs for future considerations.
With one too many goalies and veterans, Wilkie is also looking to move Colin Zulianello, either to the Louisiana IceGators or Johnstown Chiefs, for cash, and could jettison enforcer Jason Shmyr to either Dayton or the Peoria Rivermen today for future considerations.
Thompson, a fan favorite during his 2 1/2 seasons in Augusta, is Dayton's co-leader in scoring this season with 43 points on 15 goals and 28 assists. He also leads the club with 215 penalty minutes.
The 24-year-old native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, was a member of the inaugural Lynx team in 1998-99, assigned to the club by the NHL's New Jersey Devils. In 139 games for the Lynx from 1998-2000, he tallied 42 goals, 97 points and 481 penalty minutes, including a career-high 23 goals and 53 points in 1999-2000. He also tied a club record with five goals in a game in 1999.
With Ianiero, the Lynx add a promising young forward who was selected to the ECHL All-Star team in January. In 44 games with the Bombers, the 6-foot, 200-pounder tallied 24 points on 11 goals and 13 assists. The native of Hamilton, Ontario was a fifth-round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in 1999.
"It's a tough situation, and I didn't get much sleep last night thinking about this trade," Lynx coach David Wilkie said. "But, I've been trying to get Chris Thompson for three months, and Ianiero is a good young player. I think the world of Patrick and Lance, but this move improves our hockey club."
Thompson's first stint in Augusta ended in November 2000, when then-Lynx coach Scott MacPherson sent him and rookie goaltender J.R. Prestifilippo to the Greensboro Generals for goalie Erasmo Saltarelli.
Because Thompson was so popular, the deal actually led to a a mini-revolt among the players and fans. The Lynx office was bombarded with complaints, and some fans even went as far as to give up their season tickets in protest.
MacPherson was fired as coach one month later.
"I love Chris Thompson; he works hard and gives it everything he has every night, and he'll go into the corner and bang, plus he can score," said Lynx assistant coach John Whitwell, who played with Thompson for two seasons. "The fans love him. That's a big part of the reason why we wanted to bring him back."
With the trade, the Lynx bid adieu to two mainstays from the past two seasons.
One of the most gifted young offensive players in the league, Yetman was an ECHL All-Star in each of his two full seasons with the Lynx, although his numbers are down this season. The 22-year-old forward, who has spent significant time with Hartford of the AHL this season, scored 11 goals and added 14 assists in 39 games with the Lynx.
Wilkie said Yetman's scuffle on the bench with teammate Mike Legg in Thursday's loss to Columbia was not a factor inthe decision to trade him.
"There's a 100 percent chance that Patrick isn't going to be back with this club next year," Wilkie said. "And he can get called up at any time. I think the world of Patrick. But if he re-signs with Hartford, he's going to either be up in the AHL or be assigned to Charlotte.
Wilkie said Hartford general manager Al Coates told him he wanted Yetman to play for Charlotte because of their affiliation.
Galbraith, who turned 23 on Friday, was leading the Lynx with 240 penalty minutes to go with nine goals and 14 assists. His plus-8 rating also is tops on the club.
"I liked it here, but maybe it's best for both organizations," Galbraith said. "We really turned the corner here the last month, but, they felt they had to make a move, and I was part of it."
Thompson and Ianiero are expected to join the Lynx today, but Thompson must serve a one-game league suspension and will not be in the lineup Thursday at Greensboro. His first game will be Friday vs. Greenville.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.