Jean-Philippe Cote has changed in many ways since his brief stint in the National Hockey League seven years ago.
The defenseman's experience since has helped show him how to do his job better, and he might be even a little faster. But he knows his chances of a call-up have likely passed.
"Obviously, there's that dream still, but I do know my role," Cote said. "I know, compared to maybe five years ago, I'm not the next guy on the list (of guys being called-up)."
Instead, the 30-year-old has embraced his new purpose – being a leader and mentor on and off the ice for some of the Tampa Bay Lightning's top prospects with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired forward Jean-Francois Jacques from the Florida Panthers in exchange for future considerations, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Jacques, 27, has played in 24 games this season with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, collecting five goals and seven points to go along with 37 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-3, 231-pound left winger ranks tied for first on the Rampage with three power play goals.
Less than two minutes after the Syracuse Crunch squandered a golden opportunity, the Lake Erie Monsters made them pay.
The Crunch, unable to take the lead with a five minute power play in the third period, allowed the Monsters to score the game-winner on an ensuing man-advantage, losing its third straight, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"It's one of those games where didn't capitalize when we should have," said Crunch captain Mike Angelidis.
"The bottom line is that they scored on their power play and we didn't score on ours," Angelidis added. "The special teams lost the game for us, I guess."
Post-lockout pains continue.
Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss. He's now just one game over .500 and his .878 save percentage is ugly. This can't be what anyone had in mind when he came over from JYP.
LE Carey, (7) (Agozzino, Pock), 3:42
LE Pock, (5) (Carey, Steffes), 8:55
SYR Palat, (5) (Connolly, Gudas), 9:20
SYR Palat, (6) (Johnson), 16:23 (SH)
LE Thomas, (15) (Sgarbossa, Connolly), 16:59 (PP)
LE Chouinard, (1) , 19:59 (EN)
You can't really say anything other than, "It'll get better." Richard Panik will come off suspension, Taormina will get healthy, and this group will begin to settle into their new roles and get used to new on-ice combinations. But, it's going to hurt a bit over the next couple of weeks to get there. The team did outshoot Lake Erie tonight and it is showing signs of improvement. But, it takes time to build chemistry.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Syracuse meets the post-lockout bump in the road.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the loss.
RCH Mancari, (11) (Porter, Sundher), 14:17
RCH Flynn, (13) (Adam, Crawford), 4:41
RCH Rankin, (9) (Schofield, Varone), 7:05
SYR Nightingale, (1) (Johnson, Palat), 16:31
RCH Varone, (4) (Biega, Schofield), 14:14
Chemistry in hockey can be a weird thing. There are plenty of examples of teams that weather losing a key player and continue to play well. But, in the case of the Crunch, they're dealing with losing Keith Aulie, Cory Conacher, and P.C. Labrie to Tampa Bay, Taormina being down with an injury right now, and Richard Panik on a three game suspension. Clearly it was too much to overcome tonight as the team struggles to develop continuity. Even once Panik and Taormina return, it's a tall task to try to replace a defenseman with NHL experience, the reigning AHL MVP, and an emotional and physical leader like Nacho. Fans of the Lightning farm team have been a little spoiled over the last year plus and these next few weeks are going to be a little tough as Syracuse works through the changes. It'll settle down eventually. Jon Cooper's too good a coach not to get it settled down and back on track. However, be aware, this isn't going to be quite the same juggernaut it was moving forward.
Syracuse plays Lake Erie tomorrow while the big boys get going against Washington.
Box score from TheAHL.com.