It’s official: Corner Brook native hooks on with IceCaps; Slaney’s also returning to AHL as Portland’s assistant coach
Corner Brook native Jason King, shown during his time with the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, has signed a one-year AHL contract to play for the St. John’s IceCaps. — File photo
Calling it “a perfect fit in just about every way,” Corner Brook native Jason King has agreed to contract that will see him playing in his home province for the American Hockey League’s St. John’s IceCaps this fall.
King, who turns 30 on Sept. 14, had played in the German Elite League (DEL) the past three seasons, and before this week, had a year left on a contract with the DEL’s Hamburg Freezers. However, when offered a chance to play in his home province for the Winnipeg Jets’ organization, he arranged to get out of the German deal before signing to a one-year minor-league contract to play for St. John’s.
“On a personal level, we often talked about how fantastic it would be to be in a situation where I could play and we’d be able to be around family,” said King, whose wife Jennifer is also from Corner Brook. They have two sons, three-year-old Kaden and six-month-old Kaiser.
“On a professional level, this is an organization I know, an organization run by people that I trust. And it’s a chance for me to get back to playing North American hockey, which I think is better for my game.”
The Jets are owned by True North Sports and Entertainment, which also own the IceCaps, who began their AHL existence as the Manitoba Moose. As a Vancouver Canucks prospect, King played almost 200 games for the Moose from 2002 to 2006. Manitoba’s general manager at the time was Craig Heisinger, who has the same title with the IceCaps.
“For me, it makes a big difference to be dealing with people I know, with people who know me and what I’m about and what I can do,” said King.
“Craig and the others there know how to put a team together. They’ve shown it.
“And then you have Danny (Williams) and Glenn (Stanford) heading up the administration in St. John’s.
“There are good people everywhere, so you have to like that.”
King’s contract is an AHL-only deal, in part because the Jets don’t have many NHL contracts to award. National Hockey League teams are permitted only 50 per season and the Jets are already sitting at about 45, not counting defenceman Zach Bogosian, a restricted free agent who still must be signed. Clubs generally like to keep a few open contracts to be able to deal with roster-management contingencies during the course of a season.
“That certainly came up in the discussions Craig and I had,” said King, who doesn’t know if he’ll get an invitation to attend the Jets’ main training camp.
“We haven’t ironed out all the details and that’s one of them. But when it comes to that issue and the type of contract I have, the way I look at things is that if I play well enough to get back to the NHL, I believe I’ll be back in the NHL.”
King was drafted by the Canucks in the seventh round of the 2001 Entry Draft. He registered 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 59 career NHL games with Vancouver and Anaheim Ducks. However, what seemed to be a promising start to his big-league career was derailed by concussion problems during his time with the Canucks’ organization.
He has played 256 games in the AHL with the Moose and Portland Pirates, (2007-08), totaling 106 goals and 102 assists for 208 points before heading to Germany.
Wherever he’s been, King has been known as a skilled forward. He’s slotted to play on the right wing on one of the IceCaps’ scoring lines.
“I see this as a tremendous opportunity. This is exciting for me as a player and it’s exciting for our whole family,” said King, who didn’t reveal details about his contract, but did admit he would have probably done better financially by staying in Germany.
“We did sacrifice in some areas, but on the whole, we believe it will be worth it,” he said.
Slaney will be Pirates’ assistant coach
Another Newfoundlander who has been playing pro hockey in Europe for the last number of years is returning to North America for jobs in the American Hockey League.
Also Thursday, the Phoenix Coyotes announced they have hired 39-year-old St. John’s native John Slaney as an assistant coach for their AHL affiliate, the Portland (Me.) Pirates.
Slaney returns to this side of the Atlantic after finishing his professional playing career with Plzen of the Czech Elite League.
Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in the first round (ninth overall) of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, Slaney totaled 91 points (22 goals, 69 assists) in 268 NHL games with the Capitals, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.
In 631 career AHL games with Baltimore, Portland, Cornwall, Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia, Slaney recorded 166 goals and 353 assists for 519 points and is regarded as one of the AHL’s all-time best rearguards.
He is a two-time recipient of the Eddie Shore Award (given annually to the AHL’s top defenceman), having won the honour in 2000-01 and 2001-02, a two-time first-team( 2001, 2002) and one-time second-team( 2004) AHL All-Star.
He also won a Calder Cup championship with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2005.
During the 2005-06 season, Slaney became the AHL’s all-time leading scorer among defencemen, a mark that was broken by Bryan Helmer last season.
The Pirates, whose head coach is Ray Edwards, will play the IceCaps eight times this season, including four times in St. John’s.