Maine Hockey Journal

Ellis looking for stability with the Pirates

Portland, ME – For 24 hours Matt Ellis had to put his life on hold, but it’s not the first time he’s had to wait for the phone to ring, telling him where the next stop in his hockey journey will take him.

This time it took him to Portland, Maine. A little seaside city who is known more for its Old Port than the working waterfront it represents. However, don’t expect Ellis to complain because he won’t. He’s actually very relieved that he’s in Portland, playing for one of the top teams in the AHL.

“I’m happy to finally be here,” said Ellis. “It was a long trek in from Buffalo probably longer from my wife and little guy than it was for me. It’s every players aspirations to play in the National Hockey League, but (playing in the minors) is part of the game and something that I’ve been through many of many times before.”

“I’m prepared to come down here and work hard and jump in and be part of this team.”

Ellis cleared waivers on Saturday and was promptly assigned to the Pirates. It was bit of a surprise because he though he was heading back to the team that signed him in the off-season, the Los Angeles Kings.

“Waivers is a roll of the dice,” he said. “It definitely not the first time I’ve been down that road and it’s a stressful 24 hours, more so for my wife and little guy because they haven’t had the stability that I’d like to provide them with, especially the first part of the year.”

“You just have to wait by the phone because what’s going to happen is what’s going to happen,” said Ellis. “When (Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier) told me that they were putting me back on waivers, he said that L.A. informed him they would pick me back up. I was expecting to be heading to Los Angeles, but I wanted to stay with Buffalo and when that phone rang I was very happy.”

This hasn’t been the first time Ellis had to deal with waivers and the ramifications that are associated with such a transaction.

During the ’07-’08 season, Ellis spent 35 games with the Detroit Red Wings, before he was claimed on waivers by the Kings, where he played another 19 games. In the off-season, he was signed to a one-year, two-way deal, but on Oct. 1 when the Kings tried to send him down to the Kings AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, the Buffalo Sabres came calling, claiming the 27-year old power forward.

With all the moving, Ellis has not only had to worry about himself, but he had to consider the needs of his wife Jennifer and their little year and a half old boy.

“He’s got one of the most extensive jersey collections for someone who is a year and a half,” quipped Ellis.

Each time the phone would ring, Ellis and family would pack up and shuffle out, heading to a new city where they’d have to deal with the all the things we take for granted – finding housing, getting the utilities turned on, dealing with the movers, and any other everyday task that needed to be done. For the Ellis family this was move number three and they hope it’s the last one for a little while.

“I give my wife a lot of credit for holding things together,” said Ellis. “We had things packed and ready to move to Los Angeles and then we had to unpack our house. She is the organized one of the family. She did all the packing and everything that came up with moving and it’s been a crazy couple of months.”

“She’s had to put part of her life on hold and wait to see what was going on with me and I’m just hoping for some stability here. She deserves it and my little guy deserves it.”

“She’s definitely made my life lot easier and I may not have told her enough, but I definitely appreciate everything she done.”

Now that Ellis is in Portland, he’s looking forward to playing for the Pirates and getting to know his new teammates. During his career, he only played against a couple guys on the roster and despite not knowing many of faces he’ll see on a day in and day out basis, he already feels like they are part of his extended family.

“I’ve played against a few of these guys, but when you are lacing up together, you’re all brothers fighting for one goal,” said Ellis.

Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen, so far, has been nothing but impressed with Ellis, who he expect to be counted on early to the provide leadership and to contribute on a regular basis.

“He’s a strong player with a veteran presence,” he said. “He’s a quality skater and good size and he’s really a nice asset to have.”

Ellis is happy to have that expectation and is more than willing to live up to it. He’s thankful he’s in a place he can call home.

NOTES: Tyler Bouck and Colin Murphy have been cleared for practice as they took part in today’s skate. Dineen wouldn’t commit when they would return, but could be cleared for action as soon as Saturday.

With the forwards starting to get healthy, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Paul Baier have moved back to defense and Matt MacDonald has been released from his PTO and assigned back to Cincinnati of the ECHL.

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