It's been a busy week for the St. Charles Chill. Between making cuts, adding a veteran center, and agreeing to a new affiliation, Jamie Rivers, the teams head coach and general manager, has been a very busy man.
It was announced today, that the St. Charles Chill have come to an affiliation agreement with the St. Louis Blues. The new affiliation was brought up by Rivers more than a year ago, before the Blues knew they'd be changing American Hockey League affiliations. "The initial response was luke-warm." Rivers spoke on the organizations new affiliate.
With the switch between the Blues AHL affiliates, the option to affiliate with a team much closer to home started to make more sense for the Blues. It will give the Blues the opportunity to to help give some of their prospects a little extra playing time if they aren't getting it with the Wolves. It gives the organization a chance to watch some of their prospects a little closer with the Chill and the Blues arenas being less than an hour away.
"It's a great honor to be affiliated with the Blues. Over the last year, with helping out with training camp and building relationships with Ken Hitchcock and Doug Armstrong, it helped show the Blues that I can help these players progress." Rivers continued on about affiliating with the Blues. "It really helps legitimize our franchise and it helps our respect level moving forward. It's also a form of acceptance. We didn't want to be viewed as competing with the Blues, and this makes us apart of the Blues family. It's crucial for me as I've been a member of the Blues as well as an alumni and joining the family again was really important."
This affiliation will really benefit the Chill as it will give them the opportunity to receive some high quality players who aren't getting adequate ice time with the Chicago Wolves. With the Wolves being privately owned, they have their own players under contract along with the Blues prospects and winning is their number one goal. If players aren't progressing to the Blues liking, you may see a few sent down to the St. Charles Chill.
The Chill and the Blues aren't the only one going to benefit from this new affiliation agreement. The fans will also benefit from the two teams coming together. For many Blues fans who try and keep up with the Blues prospects, driving six hours to Chicago isn't an option between time and money spent. However, an hour drive out to St. Charles for quality hockey being played at a reasonable price will be a lot easier for them moving forward.
The teams new affiliation isn't the only news that's been announced this week. Rivers has made some interesting roster moves this week which raised a few eyebrows. The Chill cut seven players off their training camp roster to move a little closer to a final roster before this Saturday's home opener. Forwards Max Mobley, Phil Bushbacher, and Riley Emmerson were released this week, as were goalies Troy Redmond, Tate Maris, and Kevin McFarland. Defensemen Cory Fulton was the only defensemen cut this week.
Some of the players released were not surprising, others were. The biggest surprise releases were forward Max Mobley and goalie Kevin McFarland. Rivers took time to explain the decisions to release the two players.
"Kevin McFarland is a really good goalie who had a really good camp. He's a hard worker and he didn't disappoint in any way. He was a victim of circumstance. When he was brought in, we didn't have (Mathieu) Corbeil in camp and we didn't know we'd have him either. McFarland hasn't played a professional game in over a year, but he'll get some work, probably in the Southern Professional Hockey League. You never know whats going to happen, Corbeil could get called up to Utica of the AHL at any time and then you see McFarland right back with us. He can still be called up if needed."
For forward Max Mobley, it was much of the same as it was with McFarland. "Mobley did a fantastic job for us here at camp and was really difficult to release. He gave himself a good opportunity with his play, but the downside was his lack of experience. We have a very similar player to Mobley in Matt Whitehead who was an all-star in the SPHL last season. Things would be different if we could run four lines like the NHL does, but with the salary camp, it hinders us from doing that. If we ran four lines, Mobley would be on the team."
After some difficult decisions for Rivers this week, an easy decision was welcomed. The easy decision to bring in veteran center, Anthony Perdicaro.
Perdicaro is a big man who plays a big mans game. Along with having that edge to his game, he adds some offense as well. Rivers had some high praise in Perdicaro's game, "Anthony has a very high level of skill in regards to dishing the puck. He adds extra offense to the team and he has some bite in his game. He's a gritty player to play against and he makes the opponents put their hard hats on and work hard against this skilled power-forward. He's a great player with a great resume and he'll be a great addition to the roster."
The Chill are getting ready to open the regular season this coming Saturday against the Missouri Mavericks. It will be the first of eight meeting between the two in-state teams as they start the process of building a young rivalry. Tickets are still available as are season tickets, which start at under $10 per game (33 home games). For ticket information, visit the Chill's website, www.StCharlesChill.com or call (636) 742-SHOT (7468).