PORTLAND – During the intrasquad scrimmages at the Portland Pirates’ training camp, a small group of men sits together in the upper reaches of Section G at the Cumberland County Civic Center across the ice from the team benches.
The group, which includes Pirates Coach Ray Edwards, Phoenix Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving, Phoenix Director of Player Development Dave King and Gwinnett Gladiators Coach John Wroblewski, talk among themselves as they watch the players out on the ice battle for a job with the Pirates.
“You’re evaluating the guys you don’t know so well to see where they fit,” said Treliving, who expects to spend a week in Portland helping assemble the Coyotes’ top minor league affiliate. “You’re trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together for the team and evaluating who may stay here.”
A total of 32 players participated in Wednesday’s scrimmage and eight more players are expected to be assigned to the Pirates this weekend as the parent Coyotes reduce their squad to the NHL maximum of 23.
Treliving said he expects the Pirates will carry no more than 22 players on the roster when they open the regular season Oct. 8 on the road against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
“You can see guys coming here trying to win jobs and doing whatever they can to get noticed,” Treliving said.
During scrimmages, assistant coaches John Slaney and Mike Menard manage the benches.
“It just gives me an opportunity to watch,” Edwards said. “When you’re on the bench, you’re involved with getting guys up and who is playing with who, so this gives me the ability to watch and discuss (players) with Brad and Dave and evaluate.”
Treliving and King are not only concerned with helping Edwards put together a competitive AHL team.
“We’re also trying to build a book on each player in terms of what things we have to address in their development to make them better players,” said King, who served as coach of the Calgary Flames and Columbus Blue Jackets during his 40-year career. “It’s development and it’s also evaluation.”
It is Wroblewski’s first season as coach of the Gladiators, in their first season as the ECHL affiliate of the Coyotes.
“To just learn from guys like Dave King and Ray Edwards is an unbelievable experience for me,” Wroblewski said. “At the same time, I can (learn) the systems and the values Phoenix wants to run here in Portland, and we can bring that down to Gwinnett and make sure the guys are on the same page.”
Exhibitions against the Albany Devils in West Springfield, Mass., Friday night and against the Manchester Monarchs Sunday at the Cumberland County Civic Center are crucial in the evaluation process.
“The scrimmages have been competitive but after three or four days of running into their own guys, they want to hit somebody else,” Treliving said. “That’s when you really get a barometer, how they compete in games. It’s a whole different level and the compete level goes up.”
“It’s sometimes hard to unload on your teammates,” King said. “When you go against somebody else, it’s easy.”
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: