Maine Hockey Journal

It is about winning for the Pirates

Forward Greg Carey (white jersey) and Joel Hanley (black jersey) perform a drill during the opening day of training camp at MHG Ice Centre. (PHOTO: Michael McSweeney)

Forward Greg Carey (white jersey) and Joel Hanley (black jersey) perform a drill during the opening day of training camp at MHG Ice Centre. (PHOTO: Michael McSweeney)

It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about development.

That was the company line the Portland Pirates were towing around for the last couple of seasons, but that mantra appears to be shifting as they opened training camp on Tuesday at the OA Performance Center in Saco.

The Pirates have a new outlook heading into the season with new ownership, a newly-renovated arena, and a new general manager. Development will still be a key objective for the Arizona Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, but so is winning as the Pirates’ attempt to rebound from one of the worst season’s – statistically speaking – in franchise history.

Pirates’ GM/Coach Ray Edwards spoke with the media following Tuesday’s on-ice session and was blunt in his expectations for the team this season. Gone are the days ‘we lost, but we tried and learned a lot’… Now, it’s about results. You play well. You continue to play. You don’t. You sit.

“We’re never beyond development,” Edwards said. “The development will always be there, but these guys have to get results. It’s time for a lot of our guys to get results.”

“If they give (results) they’ll get more (ice time). That’s the way it works.”

Pretty simple if you ask me.

The Pirates finished last season with a 24-39-3-10 record, dead last out of 30 teams in the American Hockey League.

The team was mired in various off-ice issues that included, but not limited to a long-drawn out lease dispute with the Cross Arena (formerly Cumberland County Civic Center), which forced the team to make last minute plans to play 50 miles north at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, its assistant coach, Mike Minard, being fired for sexual misconduct of a minor under the age 14. Minard is now in the midst of serving a 60-day sentence at Twin Bridges Jail in Wiscasset.

As they say, it was one giant cluster… But, Edwards said they put all that behind them and is focused on getting the Pirates back to the playoffs.

“We’re excited to get going and move past last year. As far as we’re concerned (last year) is over.”

Edwards started the process of picking up the pieces this summer as the Coyotes signed forward Alexandre Bolduc, defensemen Dylan Reese, Andrew Campbell, Patrick McNeill and Evan Oberg and goaltender Mike McKenna.

Bringing in that veteran depth will provide the Pirates with some stability and leadership, which is a huge intangible that can’t always be seen on a scoresheet. Of course, they need to put points on the board and are expected to do so.

“We’re bigger down the middle of the ice. We want to be a team that possesses the puck more. We want to be a team that can win a territorial game. We want to be a team that is tough to play against. We felt we had to get better depth throughout the lineup, but especially on the backend.”

The Pirates were missing several players who haven’t made it to Portland yet. McKenna, Bolduc and Reese are expected to be in Portland by Thursday and the Edwards said that he expects another round of cuts sometime this weekend as the Coyotes get down to their 23-man roster.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login