As we get a little closer to a new year, a couple of three-year Sound Tigers defensemen are moving on to new things.
Kane Lafranchise and Pat Cullity both showed up in 2015 training camp, both went down to the Coast, both came back in January and both mostly stuck around since then. They both talked on breakup day about calling it a career. That’s what they’ve both done.
“It’s a decision I think I was honestly thinking about maybe the last half of the year,” Lafranchise said. “The knee problems, you’ve got that part, and plus my wife was offered a really good job in mental health in Edmonton.”
After she supported his career, it was time for him to support hers. Lafranchise will be working for a friend with 200 Hockey, and he said he’ll also be working with school teams — junior high, his old high school and a developing prep-school scene, he said — on skills development.
Lafranchise, 30, said he was thinking about giving it up three years ago when Brent Thompson called him. One of Thompson’s guys since the Alaska days, he stuck around for 164 Bridgeport games, which is kinda remarkably 11th among defensemen (11 behind Tomi Pettinen, who’s 10th) and tied for 30th among everyone (with Wade Dubielewicz and Tyler Haskins). And he earned himself an NHL contract last year, if he’s a little wistful that he never got the chance to get up there.
Cullity came back up a couple of weeks earlier in January 2016 and went on to play 90 games over the past three years for Bridgeport.
“I had too good an offer from a medical sales company,” said Cullity, who with his wife bought a house in the St. Louis area in April. “I landed this job, hopefully preparing for my next career.
“It’s not easy … switching from something you love to something that’ll provide for your family. I haven’t talked to Tommer on the phone, it happened so quickly. He knew I was leaning that way, dealing with ankle injuries, the grind of a young man’s game.”
Cullity, 31, said he got up to Boston to see his family over the summer and hopes he might swing back this way sometime in the winter and see his old teammates here. He noted that a lot of them were back and sounded excited as any fan that Chris Bourque’s here. It’ll be tough not being out there with them.
“In the fall, I’m going to get that itch, I’m sure,” he said.
Lafranchise knows the feeling: This is the time of year when he’d get in those last bag skates before packing up and heading out.
“(This year) is a little different,” he said, “but for myself, I really made the right decision.”
(Embarrassed to admit how long I’ve had “Call 14/3” on my to-do notes. Also mildly embarrassed I went with 3 instead of 41. Speaking of numbers getting lower, Arthur says it has hit the Island. Anyway.)
Meanwhile… ICE. (Note a door into the home penalty box for the off-ice officials. They had to ease their way across the ice last year from the Zamboni gate, with the glass fixed behind the scorer’s table.)
Lane Lambert with the Cup.
A few familiar names join the San Antonio staff, now affiliated with St. Louis: former Sound Tiger Daniel Tkaczuk and former Hartford assistant J.J. Daigneault are new assistant coaches, and onetime Islanders video coach Ryan Ward joined up as well. Ex-Rampager Jesse Graham signed with Utica.
Good wishes to Wade MacLeod, fighting cancer as friends look to raise money for him.
Tip of cap to Clint Dempsey.