Monday, June 02, 2008

When The Stanley Cup Interferes With The Calder Cup

Although the Stanley Cup playoffs get the most press attention, they are not the only hockey going on right now. In the AHL, the Calder Cup championships are underway. In the Calder Cup finals the Chicago Wolves are playing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Currently, Chicago leads the series two games to none. Chicago is the Atlanta Thrasher farm club and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is the Pittsburgh Penguin farm club. Pittsburgh is also in the Stanley Cup finals. They are playing the Detroit Red Wings and leading three games to one. It is rare that a team and their minor league affiliate both make the finals simultaneously, but when it does it can lead to problems when players are needed by both teams.

Pittsburgh has called up defenceman Alex Goligoski from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Goligoski is the top scorer on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team in the playoffs. He has 25 points and has been their most valuable player. The problem is Pittsburgh needs him. Pittsburgh's defence may be shorthanded. Kris Letang is away in New Brunswick for the funeral of his junior teammate and good friend Luc Bourdon of the Vancouver Canucks, who died in a motorcycle accident a few days ago. Rob Scuderi is banged up and although he completed game four may not be ready to go in game five. As a result, Pittsburgh needs another defenceman and Goligoski is their best choice. The problem is this leaves Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shorthanded. They are having a hard time against Chicago in the Calder Cup finals and it will get harder if their best player is not available.

It is possible that Goligoski will become available if Detroit wins the Stanley Cup tonight in game five. Goligoski would be available to play in tomorrow's Calder Cup game. However, it is also possible that he will play well in a Pittsburgh win tonight and the NHL Penguins will want to keep him called up and in their lineup. In this case, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will have to play their most important games of the season without their best player. That is a real shame to WBS fans who watched Goligoski all season but will now be without him.

There is no clear solution to an NHL team and their AHL affiliate both wanting the same player at an important time. Due to the nature of the minor leagues this situation is not uncommon. The shame is that it may become an important story in the Calder Cup finals.

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