Arsene ready for new challenge in Springfield

by Lindsay Kramer ||

arsene09b_200.jpgThe instincts of a veteran defenseman are not to be trifled with. Blueliner Dean Arsene‘s year-end chat with teammate Andrew Gordon was proof of that.

The two were roommates the past few seasons in Hershey. At the end of the Calder Cup-winning 2008-09 season, Arsene told Gordon as they packed up that this might be the last time they lived together.

“Every year, I had a pretty good feeling I was coming back,” said Arsene, 29. “This year, I had a pretty good feeling I wasn’t.”

Arsene’s hunch was confirmed in a year-end meeting with Bears GM Doug Yingst. In six seasons and 267 games with Hershey, Arsene had yet to get a recall to Washington. Yingst strongly hinted that would not change if Arsene stuck around in 2009-10. So Arsene, a Bears bedrock for so long, took a deal with Edmonton instead.

“I told him I appreciate your honesty,” Arsene said. “Any guy who is playing in any organization looks at the depth chart. I kind of knew the writing was on the wall with the prospects they have.”

Arsene was the veteran counterbalance to that, although injuries prevented him from getting on the ice long enough to cash in that chip for a trip to the Capitals. Two sports hernias and a torn groin muscle limited him to 14 games in 2007-08. He was still taking it slow coming back from those problems this past season, playing in just 46 games, though he dressed for all the playoff contests.

"You see a lot of your friends and teammates getting a chance (in the NHL)," he said. "There is nothing you can do about it because you are injured. I couldn’t possibly get a chance to get called up. You are in pain every day. It takes a toll mentally.”

Arsene’s move from Hershey to Edmonton-affiliate Springfield will create one of the most curious juxtapositions in the AHL this year. Arsene won two Calder Cups in Hershey and lost in the finals another season; the Falcons have made the playoffs once since 1999-2000.

“Yeah, they haven’t made the playoffs in a few years,” Arsene said. “It’s not like if you miss the playoffs a couple years you are down and out. The ingredients are there. All we have to do is band together.”

If the mood strikes Arsene, he will be able to toss in a little extra motivation. He doesn’t wear his first Calder Cup ring much, but likely will get his second when he’s in Springfield. That would make for a flashy fashion show.

“It’s always good to show the new guys the rewards for winning,” he said.

Paddock excited for new job

paddockJohn Paddock has done so much in pro hockey that finding him a new challenge takes a lot of digging.

His latest role doesn’t quite fall into that category, but it’s close enough to make a 55-year-old hockey lifer feel reinvigorated.

Paddock is spending the summer preparing for his new job as assistant general manager for the Philadelphia Flyers, a position that, among other things, puts him in charge of the team’s new affiliate in Glens Falls, the Adirondack Phantoms. Paddock coached the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2008-09, but switched hats when Flyers GM Paul Holmgren asked him to take a management job.

Paddock, who won two Calder Cups as a player and three with three different teams as a coach, has run the front office of an AHL team just once before. That was a lifetime ago in hockey terms, with Hershey in 1989-90. It was before the extensive budget work and scouting requirements the post carries now, Paddock said.

"I think it will be a more interesting job (than before)," said Paddock. "I’m at a different stage in my career. It (coaching) is not like it was when I was 35. I’ve done a lot of that. I wouldn’t say it’s done. It could be. In taking these responsibilities now, I didn’t have coaching on my mind. I thought it was an interesting challenge. There’s a sense of stability at having a job in hockey at a good level like this.”

The former NHL coach in Ottawa and Winnipeg and with six AHL teams has a little extra spice in his job because there is an urgency to make the new farm team a quality product. Paddock and the Flyers have already struck quickly in that regard, hiring Greg Gilbert as coach and signing free-agent forwards Lukas Kaspar, Krys Kolanos and Jason Ward, and defenseman Joey Mormina.

"I think the Flyers know the market up there is excited about the team coming there," said Paddock. "History says the Flyers have always tried to be a competitive team and develop players. I’m sure we won’t be the favorites going in, but we don’t have any expectations but to make the playoffs. The Flyers don’t take kindly to losing.”

Goehring ready to write new career chapter

goehringHockey always was more of a mental than physical proposition for goalie Karl Goehring, an approach that paid off in at least a couple of ways.

First, it allowed a 5-foot-8, 160-pound undrafted player to bull his way to an eight-year pro career.

Now, it’s given him a rare opportunity to start his coaching career at the second-highest level in the sport.

Goehring, 30, has retired as a player to become an assistant coach with the Syracuse Crunch, one of his former teams. Many ex-netminders are slotted in as positional instructors; Goehring’s grit, game sense and overall popularity in that city earned him a shot as a regular, full-time assistant right out of the gate.

"Obviously, I have a lot to learn,” Goehring said, "but given my playing experience, there’s a lot of things I can teach a defenseman or forward. You have to be aware (as a goalie) at all times of what’s going on on the ice. All my career I had to be a student of the game. I had to do the little things, cover all aspects as far as making the most of my opportunities.”

Goehring spent five seasons in a Crunch uniform from 2001-05 and 2007-08 and set franchise records for games played by a goaltender (177) and wins (78). He played for Manitoba and San Antonio in 2008-09, but said he had only an offer from Germany for this season.

His transition to coaching should be eased by the presence of Syracuse assistant Trent Cull and coach Ross Yates. Cull and Goehring were teammates on the Crunch and Yates was an assistant and head coach while Goehring played there.

"I love to play. I love to be out on the ice,” Goehring said. "There was a few nights where you have a tough time going to bed, you definitely think about it. I’m at peace with it. I’m excited to go to the other side of the bench. I had a great playing career, a lot of fun. Now it’s time to write a new chapter.”

Quite a history for Castelletti

Peoria would have to crisscross North America several times this season to exhaust Steve Castelletti’s supply of back-of-the-bus stories.

Castelletti is the team’s new equipment manager. That position, while vital, also is pretty anonymous. But before the roster is set, he already is by far the most interesting member of the team.

Castelletti, 53, has a background just a little different than the typical hockey support staff guy. As a Marine, he was assigned to protect U.S. delegates and embassies in places like Cyprus, Geneva, Kenya, Lebanon and Jordan. After that, he took a spin as a police officer in Washington, D.C.

He then worked in the private security business, a role that included protecting the son of Jordan’s King Hussein while he attended college at Brown. Castelletti followed that with a 20-year run in the U.S. Marshals Service, working in the witness protection program and hunting fugitives.

Hockey crept in during his time in the Marines. While in Geneva he met the equipment manager for a team there. During his time as with the marshal service, he worked in that capacity in Alaska and Iowa, and when he left the service at age 50, he got a job as an equipment manager at the University of Wisconsin. He also did some volunteer work with the St. Louis Blues, which led to his landing the gig with the Rivermen.

“For 20-something years I was with bad guys all the time. Now, I’m working with nice people,” Castelletti said. “I think I can take pride and satisfaction knowing I can help some of these kids make the NHL. I think I can take pride and satisfaction if I teach these kids about life.”

And then there’s that whole thing about eliminating the risk of being shot at, at least with bullets.

“I’m not looking over my shoulder. Nobody has to worry about getting hurt,” he said. “Unless I get hit with a puck, which will probably happen.”