For many fans of the American Hockey League, nothing lacks clarity so much as the clear-day list, which will be made public this morning.
AHL press releases make the clear-day process, by which teams specify the 22 players they wish to make eligible for the post-season, seem simple enough.
Here, for example, is what has been posted on the league website:
Lists were due to the AHL office at 3 p.m. ET Monday. Only players listed on a team’s clear day roster are eligible to compete in the remainder of the AHL regular season and in the 2012 Calder Cup playoffs unless emergency conditions arise as a result of recall, injury or suspension.
The St. John’s IceCaps for example, show a roster of 26 players — 16 forwards, eight defencemen and two goalies. That includes centre Marco Rosa and defenceman Derek Meech, both out with long-term injuries.
Given that, the IceCaps would have four players — probably three forwards and a defenceman — who wouldn’t make the list. But that certainly doesn’t mean those excluded won’t see an action over the last 20 games of the regular season or in the playoffs
It’s the line about emergency conditions that’s the key. In the AHL, where there is no injured reserve list, an emergency isn’t an ailment that requires an operation or declaration of quarantine. It can be as simple as a case of the flu or an infected tooth. So players not on the clear-day list often find themselves promoted into the lineup.
The league has never seemed to frown on this, mainly because the main purpose of the clear-day list is not to prevent AHL teams from using their existing roster, but rather to keep National Hockey League clubs — especially those not expecting to participate in the Stanley Cup playdowns — from loading up their farm teams with players who have spent most of the year in the NHL but could still easily be assigned to the minors.
“I’ve already sat down individually with our players who are not on the list to explain to them how it works,” says IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge, whose Eastern Conference-leaders finish off a seven-game road trip with a game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight.
“I’ll speak to the whole team (today) about what it means, added McCambridge, who probably could ease concerns by relating his own clear-day history — or rather about how he can’t really recall it.
“You know, I don’t remember too much about whether I was there or not,” said McCambridge, who spent seven seasons as an AHL defenceman.
“I remember there were players on a list, but that things didn’t change too much most of the time.”
That’s not to say McCambridge and IceCaps’ general manager Craig Heisinger haven’t taken the clear-day process seriously.
“There have been lots of discussion between Zinger and myself about the list about what’s best for the organization and our team,” he said.
“Yes, there is (flexibility), but lot of thought has gone in to deciding (the list), because our focus is on putting together the lineup we think will give us the greatest chance for success.”
McCambridge gave no hints about those decisions, but it would seem today’s revelation would be an good indication of whether he and Heisinger feel that Rosa, who hasn’t played since Christmas because of a concussion, and/or Meech, sidelined by a serious knee injury for the second time this season, could be contributors to the IceCaps’ cause this spring.
Teams may also add signed junior and college players or players on amateur tryout contracts after today, but only once their respective junior or college seasons are complete.
Clear-day lists for each team will be posted on the league website (theahl.com) this morning.