Ducks: Balmochnykh Suspended

By Martin Dittman

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are not the only Duck team feeling the effects of suspensions. On Wednesday, the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks learned they have lost top flight prospect Maxim Balmochnykh for eight games.

Apparently aggrevated by pesky play from Louisville Panthers tough guy Curtis Doell, he speared Doell in the face causing him to bleed and receive stitches. The injury was not serious though since Doell came back to play in the game later.

Balmochnykh will miss almost a month of playing time due to the suspension, not exactly the best way to develop and learn the North American style of play. It could be called a rookie mistake, but in reality, it was bad judgment by the youngster who still has learning to do. This is certainly one that should help him mature by learning from his mistakes.

Balmo had been off to a hot start in the AHL. In Game 1 against the Kentucky Thoroughblades he scored two goals and demonstrated his great scoring sense. He had 4 shots on goal that night and was the second star. He still cant speak English, yet he still has the knack for putting the puck in the net.

The spearing incident between Balmo and Doell created a night of aggressiveness and brawls between both teams.
Immediately after the spearing incident, Peter LeBoutillier and veteran Brent Thompson went at it. Leboutillier would receive a misconduct penalty as a result. Curtis Doell may have been bleeding earlier in the night but that didnt stop him from fighting twice in the contest. First, he fought B.J. Young and then shortly after coming out of the penalty box, he fought Dan Trebil – also in the second period.

The ugly night was capped off by a match penalty taken by the Ducks’ Scott Ferguson. He slashed a Louisville player and as a result will miss at least one game due to the match penalty. The AHL will review the play and see if a longer suspension is warranted.

Defenseman Scott Ferguson has been named captain of the baby Ducks. The alternate captaincy will be rotated between Leboutillier, B.J. Young, Jeremy Stevenson and Johan Davidsson.
While the NHL Ducks lost three players due to suspension they were not allowed to call up anyone from Cincy. NHL rules state that players cant be called up to replace suspended players. Therefore, the Ducks are still at the 23 man roster limit with 20 filling the lineup and no extras until the suspensions start to end.
Should there be injuries, there are several potential call ups. On defense, Dan Trebil and Vitali Vishnevsky seem likely candidates. Trebil has had some NHL spot duty and the rookie Vishnevski had a strong training camp. So far, both have had good starts and VIshnevsky has not had much trouble adjusting to the North American style of play. It appeared Trebil would have made the opening night roster for the Ducks if Anaheim had not acquired Ladislav Kohn from Atlanta after the waiver draft.

At forward, expect Johan Davidsson to be summoned back to Anaheim during the year sometime. Davidsson showed up at camp out of shape and struggled during pre season games. Mike Leclerc beat him out for the final forward roster spot. Davidsson has looked very good on a line with Stevenson and Frank Banham. The line is averaging 15 shots per game. Granted, they have only played two games. Other forward candidates to make the trip to Anaheim are Bob Wren and Leboutillier, both final cuts from camp. Balmochnykh has an outside chance of being called up especially if a top player goes down to injury in Anaheim.

The Ducks sent prospect Tom Askey to Kansas City of the IHL so he can face more shots from veteran players. The hope is he will be ready to contend for the backup job next season. He is off to a good start. In 80 minutes of play he is posting a 1.50 GAA with a .952 save percentage.
Gregg Naumenko will be the starting goalie for Cincy this season. The Ducks consider Naumenko to be the best goaltender in all of college hockey last season. While playing for Anchorage, he had a GAA of under 2.00 most of the way and in an even brighter spot, he’s only 20 years old. He is expected to be the one to replace Guy Hebert as the Ducks backstopper. Expect to hear his name a lot in the future. Detroit Red Wings prospect Aren Miller is backing him up.

Blaine Russell will again spend the year with the Huntington Blizzard of the ECHL. Last year with the Blizzard, he posted a 2.90 GAA and a save percentage of over 90 percent. Even with the decent ECHL numbers, Russell is currently only a depth player within the Ducks organization and has a long ways to go if he is to develop into a competent professional goalie. Should a goalie go down to injury in Cincy, he will get the promotion.