Is the Lynx in trouble?
Was the promotion of goalie Riku Helenius to AHL Norfolk tied to the financial trouble being felt by the ECHL Augusta Lynx?
Norfolk GM Mike Butters said Sunday, "His call-up had zero to do with what is going on in Augusta."
Butters said Helenius, one of Tampa Bay's top prospects, was called up for evaluation and to work with organizational goaltenders coach Cap Raeder.
Still, the situation with Tampa Bay's ECHL affiliate seems difficult. At a news conference on Saturday, GM Dan Troutman confirmed the team is having financial trouble but a report Saturday on the WJBF-TV web site was more dire, quoting owner Robert Burch as saying new investors to close a $300,000 budget gap to keep the team in Augusta had to be found within days.
There has been talk the league could step in and run the team in case of emergency. But no one from the team or league could be immediately reached. Lightning GM Brian Lawton said Sunday the Lynx did get the cash infusion needed, though that could not be confirmed.
"So now they are moving forward," he said. "But there's all sorts of emergency plans in place, and things like that from the league, so it's something we're monitoring very closely. We don't have a tremendous amount of players there, but we certainly want them to do well. Recently, we recalled Helenius. It wasn't because of that. But, really, we're down to very few players, so it won't have a major impact."
Lawton said the Lynx has indicated it has the money needed.
"That's what they tell us. We're not privy to their books, but there was a lot of speculation out there about it and the league has also reassured us there are plans and things, so it's something we're monitoring."
Lightning prospects on the Lynx roster include center Chris Lawrence and defenseman Kevin Quick.
"Interestingly, when things like this happen, it's amazing how many people contract you," Lawton said. "We've had numerous inquiries from other teams and other leagues. We're talking about a nominal number of players here, but everyone likes to have an affiliation with an NHL franchise. It just helps the business."