By Dave Werstine
Long Beach Press Telegram
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Despite the Ice Dogs picking up their first win of the season Wednesday night, coach Rick Adduono knows his team is not out of the woods just yet, that tinkering with the roster will be necessary if it is to make a run.
Adduono is looking for experience, leadership, toughness and skill.
The Ice Dogs are on the verge of getting all of that in just one player – former L.A. King and Anaheim Duck forward Kip Brennan.
The only thing the Ice Dogs and Brennan are waiting on is his visa/immigration paperwork to clear before he signs a contract and joins the lineup. That could happen as soon as today, allowing him to play tonight in Bakersfield or Saturday or Sunday at home.
“I am very excited to play, and, hopefully, the paperwork is ready so I can play this weekend,” he said. “The team has lost a lot of close games, and, hopefully, I can add that little edge.”
With Brennan coming aboard, he will add a few dynamics that the Ice Dogs (1-7-1) are lacking.
Brennan, 26, who played parts of five seasons with the Kings (2001-04), Ducks (2005-06) and Atlanta Thrashers (2003-04), has 58 games under his belt at the NHL level. The rest of his pro career has been played at the AHL level.
At 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds, Brennan is certainly a physical presence. During his days in the NHL, he made his living as an enforcer/grinder, recording 210 penalty minutes. Offensively, he only put up a goal and an assist in the NHL. But he did have seven goals and six assists in 48 games for Chicago (AHL) in the lockout season of 2004-05.
Adding his experience and toughness along with his desire to get back to the AHL and NHL in the not-too-distant future and help his teammates reach those goals as well, Brennan seems to be a viable leader for the young Ice Dogs.
“I think that experience in the NHL will be a tremendous help to us,” Adduono said. “He’s seen our games and thinks he can help us win. He is definitely going to demand respect – and show that we mean business in Long Beach.”
Last year, Brennan split time between Anaheim and Portland (AHL) before suffering a shoulder injury during a fight that required season-ending surgery.
Healed up, he went to training camp this season with the Dallas Stars, then to Toronto (AHL) before being released after playing in just one game.
It is pretty much a no-brainer for Brennan, who lives in Redondo Beach, to join the Ice Dogs, where he can work on his game while staying close to home. He is looking to improve his skill in the hopes of becoming more of a “multi-functional” player instead of just an enforcer.
“The game has changed,” he said. “This is a good fit for me. I was looking for a place where there is a chance to win and where I can play and work on my skills and develop as a player. I think I am taking the right steps.”
And it might just be the right step for the Ice Dogs, too.