Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier Former Arizona Sundog and current Phoenix Coyote defenseman David Schlemko skated with the Sundogs during practice at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley in this October 4, 2011, file photo.
The Arizona Sundogs issued a news release on Wednesday about their press conference this Friday, Oct. 5, in Prescott Valley. According to the release, the team will make a special announcement regarding their newest signed player for the 2012-13 season, which opens Oct. 20.
"We have been working all off-season toward putting together a solid team on and off the ice," Sundogs GM Chris Presson said in the statement. "A team that's going to be hard to beat and we're excited that a returning member will help us accomplish that."
The headline further titillates by proclaiming the franchise has "a returning star on the horizon."
Other than that, mum's the word.
So, any theories as to who the new/old Sundog is?
Since you asked, I'll offer one.
I'll put my money on David Schlemko. Here's my case.
Schlemy wore the Sundog sweater in 2007-08, when he appeared in 58 games and scored 39 points for the 'Doggies who, of course, won the Ray Miron Cup that season in a thrilling postseason after Arizona won its division.
Schlemko was a CHL All-Star that year, and his pro career only blossomed after. Since then he's appeared in 109 games with the Phoenix Coyotes, including on last season's magical club that advanced all the way to the NHL's Conference Finals.
So Schlemy still has ties to Arizona hockey clearly. The Sundogs are still an affiliate of the Coyotes. And the Coyotes (and the other NHL teams) are going nowhere fast, after Thursday's announcement that the lockout is officially starting to cancel games. So far, games through Oct. 24 are nixed, and the two sides definitely remain far apart.
Why wouldn't Schlemko want to stay loose by skating on his old home ice in front of a fan base that loved #2? And don't tell me the Sundogs wouldn't love his presence back in the Tim's Toyota Center locker room, especially with a rebuilt team.
As for his NHL status, Schlemko could choose to skate in PV on his own, much the same way locked-out players could choose to play overseas during ongoing negotiations. Several players from last year's Coyote club are already playing for the team's top affiliate, the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates, including defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Chris Summers and Michael Stone.
And don't sweat the waiver wire. Those three did not have to clear waivers to be assigned to Portland, based on their age and contract status.
A Coyotes player in most cases would have to be put on waivers and assigned, which would open that player up for another NHL club to claim him. The Coyotes would never risk putting Schlemy on waivers to be snapped up by another team.
In his case, it's all good. He could have an agreement/contract between him and the Sundogs, without the worry of waivers or paperwork on the Coyotes' end.
Talk about win-win.
So there you have it. My guess is that #2 will be back on local ice. But we'll have to wait for Friday's press conference to get official word.