McCambridge says cutdown day is never easy

Brendan McCarthy
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When asked about his perspective when having to attend to the preseason cutting of hockey players from the roster, St. John’s IceCaps’ head coach Keith McCambridge — who spent more than a decade as a defenceman in the pro ranks, but never played in the NHL — said these days, he doesn’t hearken as much back to when he might have been on the other side of the desk, as a player listening to a coach or general manager.

St. John's IceCaps Director of Hockey Operations Brad Andrews arranges flights for players cut from the team's training camp on Monday. The IceCaps open the 2013-14 regular season Friday at Mile One Centre against the Providence Bruins.

Instead, he can’t keep but think about the player as a member of a family and the wider circle of disappointment that comes with a coach performing a tough — maybe his toughest — task.

“I obviously realize they have spent their whole lives trying to get to the highest level possible and it’s not an easy day for them and it’s always the same way for myself,” said McCambridge on Monday after nine players were released or reassigned by the IceCaps (see story, this page).

“It’s not an easy conversation at all.

“I look at it moreso that I have a family. I have a son who plays hockey and is involved in sports. Those players we’re speaking to (on cutdown day) have parents who have invested heavily — and not just money — in their careers. They’re probably on the phone with them every night.

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“So it’s hard for lots of people.”

Having said that, McCambridge felt most of the exit meetings involving him, his coaching staff and IceCaps general manager Craig Heisinger were positive in that the departing players had left a positive impression during training camp.

That’s important, given that there is always the need for call-ups during the season. In 2012-13, for example, St. John’s used 46 different players. The season before, it was 48.

There are probably more moves ahead as the IceCaps prepare for their 2013-14 season-opening game Friday night at Mile One Centre against the Providence Bruins. Even with Monday’s moves, St. John’s still has a roster of 29 players, including centre Patrice Cormier and Zach Redmond, who were assigned by the Winnipeg Jets in the parent club’s final cuts.

“But we do have injured guys,” said McCambridge, listing Julian Melchiori, Travis Ehrhardt and Kris Fredheim as three defencemen who are hurting.

When asked if he had a number in mind when it came to a workable roster, McCambridge said he did, but wasn’t prepared to reveal it until he had seen how things develop over the next while.

Of the players retained Monday, all were under contract entering training camp, except for Ehrhardt and fellow defencemen Cody Lampl and Jordan Hill.

The nine players released or reassigned had all been on tryouts, except for forward Yasin Cisse.

Here are the 29 players on the IceCaps’ roster, as of Monday:

Goaltenders (3)

Michael Hutchinson, Jussi Olkinuora, Eddie Pasquale

Defenceman (11)

Ben Chiarot, Patrick Cullity, Travis Ehrhardt, Kris Fredheim, Jordan Hill, Brenden Kichton, Cody Lampl, Juilan Melchiori, Will O’Neill, Zach Redmond, Cody Sol

Forwards (15)

John Albert, Austen Brassard, Patrice Cormier, Andrew Gordon, Jason Jaffray, Carl Klingberg, Adam Lowry, JC Lipon, Josh Lunden, Kyle MacKinnon, Kael Mouillierat, Eric O’Dell, Blair Riley, Jerome Samson, Ryan Schnell

Twitter: @telybrendan

Organizations: IceCaps, Providence Bruins, Winnipeg Jets

Geographic location: Jordan Hill

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