Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Paul Betit email@example.com
PORTLAND - After kicking around the Vancouver Canucks' organization for six seasons, veteran center Alexandre Bolduc figured he was going to get a chance to play in the NHL on a regular basis when he signed with the Phoenix Coyotes following the 2010-11 season.
COMING UP FOR PIRATES
SATURDAY: Fitness tests/medical exams
SUNDAY: First practice at Portland Ice Arena
THURSDAY: Preseason game vs. University of New Brunswick, 12:30 p.m. Portland Ice Arena
But Bolduc had shoulder surgery before last season and didn't return until the middle of January.
Now his chance to play in the NHL on a regular basis has been delayed by the lockout.
"Now, I'm 100 percent healthy and ready to go," said Bolduc, who was among a dozen Portland players participating in a skate at the Portland Ice Arena Thursday. "Now, I'm ready to go and the league isn't."
Players don't have to report to the Pirates, in their second season as an affiliate of the Coyotes, until Friday. The 31 players in camp will undergo testing and physical examinations Saturday. The first on-ice practice sessions are scheduled for Sunday morning at PIA.
Bolduc was limited to 23 games with the Pirates and two games with the Coyotes following an April call-up last season.
"Just like every player in the NHL and the AHL, I wanted to go try out (for an NHL team)," he said. "It's frustrating, and it's something we'll just have to deal with as a group.
"I'm just happy to get a chance to play. I know what it is to sit on the sideline. Now, I'm healthy and I want to play," he added.
Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said he's glad Bolduc, who scored three goals and had 12 assists with the Pirates, is starting the season with his team.
"He brings a lot to the table," Edwards said. "There's the leadership side of it. He's really good with our younger players. He can show these guys the way. He's a real high competitive player. He plays with an edge."
Edwards said Bolduc, 27, is extremely versatile, capable of playing a lot of roles for the Pirates, who open the season Oct. 13 in Glens Falls, N.Y., against the Adirondack Phantoms.
"He's a guy who can kill penalties," Edwards said. "We're going to need someone who can play against top players, and he can shut people down."
When the lockout ends and the NHL resumes operations, Bolduc still may get his chance with the Coyotes.
"When the NHL starts, there's a guy who has an opportunity to play some games with Phoenix," Edwards said. "He will be great for us here, but his goal is to play more games in the NHL this year."
NOTES: The Pirates invited Tony Lucia, a left wing from Plymouth, Mass., to training camp.
A 2010 graduate of the University of Minnesota, the 6-3, 190-pound forward spent last season in the AHL with the Worcester Sharks
Left wing Kale Kessy, who was selected by the Coyotes in the 2011 NHL entry draft, also is in camp.
Earlier this week, Kessy, who plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the junior Western Hockey League, received a 10-game suspension for elbowing an opposing player in the head last Saturday night.
Kessey doesn't turn 20 until Dec. 4 and is ineligible to play in the AHL.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: