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What's eating Gilbert

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Adirondack Phantoms coach Greg Gilbert is miffed these days, but sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference will do that to a coach.

Despite a fairly ambitious off-season makeover that brought in veteran offensive talents Jason Ward and Krys Kolanos, big defender Joey Mormina and veteran Swedish goaltender Johan Backlund, the Phantoms so far have been a flop.

Gilbert wants more out of his veteran core.

"There are some guys who need to be a lot better and show more leadership."

The Phantoms' power play ranks amongst the AHL's worst. Kolanos and Ward have delivered minimal production, while captain Jared Ross and left winger Patrick Maroon have struggled tremendously after a very strong 2008-09 seasons. Now Backlund is likely out of the Phantoms' crease for an extended period after being summoned this week to replace the injured Ray Emery in Philadelphia, leaving rookie Nic Riopel to handle the AHL workload.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Gilbert said. "And a lot of guys need to be committed to learning how to play the game."

Indeed, Gilbert, who won three Stanley Cups as a dependable winger, sees a team lacking sufficient fortitude between the ears and take issues with his club's compete level and consistency.

"I don't think we're a very mentally tough team," Gilbert admitted. "Mental toughness is doing the same things over and over, day in and day out. We've got guys who, right now, just aren't capable of doing that. We've got to keep pushing them and making them mentally tougher."

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Steve Valiquette had been through a difficult week before he had even made his first AHL appearance since Feb. 2007.

After clearing NHL waivers and landing in Hartford, Valiquette's appearance on Dec. 4 at Manchester lasted just nine minutes, thanks to three goals on nine Monarchs shots.

Valiquette re-entered the game in the second period and surrendered two more power play goals, finishing the game with five goals against on 31 shots.

The 32-year-old had similar trouble in Hershey two nights later when the Bears rolled up three first period goals on just 13 shots, eventually chasing him with five goals on 16 shots and taking a 9-2 decision.

Hershey is richer offensively now that the parent club Washington Capitals snagged Chris Bourque off waivers from Pittsburgh. Bourque, a two-time Calder Cup winner, registered three goals and five points with the Bears last weekend. However, elite enforcer Brandon Sugden opted to leave the Bears this week for a contract in the Kontinental League with Chekhov Vityaz.

Rick DiPietro went two periods last Saturday in a rehab assignment with Bridgeport, his first action since last January. He is expected to remain with the Sound Tigers this weekend…

Providence veteran Trent Whitfield became the 76th AHLer to reach 500 points last Saturday at Portland, where he spent seven seasons…

NHL veteran Dan Cloutier's first pro game since the 2007-08 season ended abruptly, when he earned a match penalty for his involvement in a line brawl last Sunday in a game against Manitoba. The AHL suspended Cloutier, who signed a tryout with the Rockford IceHogs, one game…

Hartford endured a horrendous weekend, losing three games in fewer than 48 hours on the road by a combined 20-4 count…

Manitoba's Mike Keane, a one-time Montreal captain, missed one game with the Moose to participate in the Canadiens' centennial celebration on Dec. 4…

In a rarity, more head coaches have been fired in the AHL (Chicago's Don Granato and San Antonio’s Greg Ireland) than in the NHL (John Stevens in Philadelphia) so far this season…

A Columbus-St. Louis deal had Peoria defender Brendan Bell and center Tomas Kana shipped to Syracuse for right winger Pascal Pelletier on Tuesday. Center Brock McBride went from the Crunch to the Rivermen in a separate transaction. Bell and Texas goalie Brent Krahn will represent Canada at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland later this month.

From American League correspondent Patrick Williams, Around The AHL keeps tabs on the world's second best circuit, details all the news and notes and profiling prospects destined for the next level. It appears every weekend only on



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