Maine Hockey Journal

Dineen working the phones

Portland, ME – After practice I asked Portland Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen about the team’s blueline and his response was to the point.

“As soon as the two of you (myself and another writer) get out of my office, I will have that answer,” said Dineen joking with a smirking grin.

(I don’t know maybe he wasn’t joking??)

Before the season even begins, Dineen was busy working the phones trying to fill holes on precariously thin blueline.

The Pirates start their regular season on Saturday at the Cumberland County Civic Center when they take on the Manchester Monarchs, but as of now, the defense for Portland looks a little bit like a M*A*S*H unit.

Currently, Portland has only four healthy defensemen as Mike Funk is back in Buffalo receiving treatment for an undisclosed injury and there is no timetable on his return and Chris Butler, who jammed his wrist during a Sabres preseason game in Columbus.

Butler played in Portland’s 5-3 win over the River Rats on Sunday, but wasn’t in practice today as a precaution. Dineen expects Butler to ready for the season opener this weekend.

In the meantime, Dineen has to fill the void on the backend and build up some depth because at some point, Buffalo will be calling for a defenseman and Portland has to be prepared or face the option of Tyler Bouck playing on the blueline and I’m sure Dineen doesn’t want to go down that path again.

“I’m actively working on shoring up our blueline as we speak,” said Dineen.

Dineen indicated he was pursuing all options including signing available free agents, looking at trades as well as communicating with Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier and Head Coach Lindy Ruff about who maybe assigned to Portland as Buffalo has until 3pm to finalize their 23-man roster.

Last Friday, Ruff said he wasn’t keeping eight defensemen and would only like to keep six, but would need to evaluate the situation as the season came near.

The possibility still exists for Portland to receive a couple of bodies from Buffalo before Saturday, but Dineen wouldn’t rest on that as his only option.

Reading between the lines it’s safe to say that even if the Sabres send a couple of players to Portland, Dineen is still going to be looking for this year’s version of Andy Schneider.

“We’re looking at all options right now to bolster our blueline at this time,” he said.

With Dineen on the job, I’d expect to see a few extra bodies on blueline by Saturday.

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