Mitchell Returns! Lecavalier and Burch Reunited!

Positive signs out of Calgary as the playoff push draws near.
by Matt Burch | March 16, 2015, 12:13 AM ET

With how the first half, no, first quarter of this season played out, one wondered if the Mustangs would even have the same roster by now, with a good deal of starters being aquired through waivers or trades this season.  But the GM Burch trade train had to lose steam eventually, as the last trades made were more than a month ago on the same day, seeing Ville Leino go to Edmonton, and Andre Benoit and Devin Setoguchi coming to Calgary.  Minor trades, to be sure, but winners are sometimes built from the bottom lines just as much as the top.

Enter the trade deadline.  Burch was trying to pull off one more trade for a center, as he felt that was where he needed the most help.  Yes the team performed admirably when star Tyler Bozak went down with his various injuries this season, but during a tough playoff push, players are only able to take on so much before they break.  One player the Mustangs were looking into was a center who fit the bill - top billing, skilled, proven winner - but, according to the GM, the asking price was more than he was willing to pay.  Burch was parusing the rosters of teams outside of the playoff bubble, and came across Vincent Lecavalier on a team that has been a good trading partner in the past - the Ottawa Slammers.

Back in 2007-2008, Ray Whitney was the subject of a minor trade around the deadline, only then it was the Slammers making a playoff push and the Mustangs were out of the picture.  Whitney and the Slammers went on an historic plaoff run, inspiring children and delusional adults everywhere that the little guy really can win.  It was so sickeningly inspiring that, after signing Whitney again, the Mustangs traded him to the Slammers last season...again.  Lightning didn't strike twice as the Slammers were ousted and Whitney only had 2 points in 7 games, but dreams are difficult to fill once, let alone twice.

Fastforward back to today, where GM Burch took a stab at landing Vincent Lecavalier, a player with his own bit of history, which started on a little known team with a little known GM back in 2000.  Yes, my friends, Vincent Lecavalier was taken first overall by none other than the St. Louis Roughnecks, Burch's first team.  It was there he started his career with 107 points in 197 games and two playoff appearances before being traded to the Dragons.

Today, Lecavalier got traded to the Mustangs for fledgeling power forward Pat Maroon and defenseman Nick Jensen.

"It's exciting,"  Lecavalier said when interviewed, "to go from a team on the outside of the playoffs to a team at the top of the standings is certainly a great opportunity.  I will try to give all I can give to help the team make a strong push through the playoffs."  When asked about getting reunited with the same man that drafted him first overall, Lecavalier replied, "It will be interesting.  I haven't seen Burch in a great while.  I heard he grows his nails long and lives in a decontaminated bubble."

In other news, Willie Mitchell returned to the lineup after a long time off with an injury.  While not a huge boost with skill, Mitchell makes up for that with know-how, experience, and personality.  He had an easy work load in his only game back against the Riders, logging around 14 minutes, but that didn't stop him notching an assist for only his 4th point in his 25th game this season.

"I probably could have sat that game out too with JVR's performance,"  Mitchell said.  James Van Riemsdyk had 2 goals and 2 assists in Mitchell's return.  Mitchell then added, with a smirk, "Then again, maybe I make him better.  I recall him having 2 or 3 points in my last game where I got injured, and I think he's been struggling ever since!"

With Calgary staying healthy and a playoff berth all but certain, the Mustangs must use these last 19 games to get their squad ready, whether they be newcomers, players coming off injury, or just players waiting in the wings.  You never know when that injury bug will hit and how hard, but come playoff time you're only as good as your depth players, and right now the Mustangs look poised for a push.

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