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home : sports : sundogs January 25, 2015

11/27/2012 10:12:00 PM
Schlemko leaves Sundogs, returns to Phoenix despite ongoing NHL lockout
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Arizona Sundogs David Schlemko looks to pass as the Sundogs took on the  Missouri Mavericks in the Sundogs 2012-2013 home opener on Oct. 26 at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Arizona Sundogs David Schlemko looks to pass as the Sundogs took on the Missouri Mavericks in the Sundogs 2012-2013 home opener on Oct. 26 at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
The Daily Courier

Standout defenseman David Schlemko has taken "a leave of absence" from the Arizona Sundogs, according to a news release that the Prescott Valley-based CHL franchise issued late Tuesday morning.

Schlemko, a 25-year-old fan favorite who won a Ray Miron Presidents' Cup championship with the Sundogs in 2008, had been on loan from the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL lockout.

In 14 games with the Sundogs, the Coyotes' Double-A minor-league affiliate, Schlemko scored three goals and was tied for the team lead in assists with seven.

Schlemko's departure comes on the heels of Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura leaving the Sundogs. On Nov. 17, the team announced that the talented Chipchura had also taken a leave of absence.

It remains unclear whether Schlemko or Chipchura will return to the Sundogs during the 2012-13 season. Sundogs front-office personnel and coach David Lohrei did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Tuesday.

However, Lohrei did comment on Schlemko's departure in the club's media release.

"We have enjoyed having Dave play with us thus far and he has been a role model for some of our younger guys on the team," Lohrei said.

Attempts to reach Schlemko were unsuccessful. A Coyotes spokesman said late Tuesday afternoon that the franchise is not able to contact Schlemko or any other NHL player during the league's work stoppage.

The Sundogs organization added in its news release that Schlemko has moved back to Phoenix with his family and "looks forward to skating with players from around the NHL as they look to keep their skills sharp and at the top of their level."

On Oct. 5, 15 days before the Sundogs' season started, Schlemko told a group of about 50 people during a press conference at Tim's Toyota Center that he was returning to the play for the team and had planned to suit up for Arizona until the lockout ended.

However, the NHL work stoppage is far from over. The league has canceled games through Dec. 14 due to a labor dispute between owners and players.

Schlemko said in early October that he had opportunities to play in Europe, but he did not want to leave the country now that he has a wife and baby.

"Obviously, it's very exciting to be back here (with the Sundogs)," he said Oct. 5. "You can only have so much non-contact scrimmages to stay ready. It's not about the money coming here, it's about having a place to play."

The 6-foot-1, 196-pound Schlemko began his pro hockey career with the Sundogs in 2007-08 as a 20-year-old rookie, and he benefited from the first affiliation agreement the hometown club had with the Coyotes.

Schlemko, an Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, native signed a free-agent contract with the Coyotes in July 2007.

Later that year, he was assigned to the Sundogs and registered 10 goals and 29 assists, including three goals and five assists in 14 playoff games. He finished the 2007-08 season with 39 points, tying him for the most points among CHL rookie defensemen.

In early October, Schlemko got Sundogs fans excited about his return.

"I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing this building (Tim's) full every night again and bring back that winning tradition," Schlemko said. "It was a great experience last time, and I'm hoping for another one."

Without Schlemko and Chipchura, the Sundogs recently acquired two new players, Chad Langlais and Ron Meyers, and re-signed a former Sundog in Kevin Petovello.

Arizona's currently in a fourth-place tie with the Rapid City (S.D.) Rush in the CHL's Berry Conference standings with an 8-6-3 overall record (19 points).

Related Stories:
• Sundogs cut ties with leading-scorer Chipchura
• Current Coyote, former CHL All-Star Schlemko rejoins Sundogs

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Article comment by: Hockey Fan

They left so they can practice with players of NHL caliber. Playing at the AA level was weakening their hockey skills. It was complete desperation by the Sundogs and CHL to even allow NHL players to play at this level. The team is losing money because of poor management by the owners and front office. The worse team and organization in minor league hockey raised single game tickets prices by 40%. Say what!? Absolutely horrendous marketing of the Sundogs. There isn't any hockey being played in America's 8th largest city. Promote it!!! Weekend games should be bringing 1000-1500 from Phoenix. (But then again, without Chipchura and Schlemko, this is a pretty lousy team). An arrangement of food, lodging, and ticket packages for Phoenix hockey fans should have been made available. This is a perfect example of why this team will fold and the arena is in the process of being shut down.

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Article comment by: Pure Speculation

Maybe they are involved in some kind of trade or.......maybe the lockout is set to be over? Or is it too late for that.

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