Calgary Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio was certain he'd be without his top player for a while. Ryan Getzlaf was thought to be a shoo-in for Canada's world junior team and he, indeed, made it yesterday. But with Andrew Ladd also making the team, Kisio and the Hitmen find themselves without both their top guns until the new year.
Kisio also knows his club's going to get even thinner after Christmas, when goaltender Daniel Spence, defenceman Karl Alzner and forwards Ryan White and Keegan Dansereau depart for the under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Lethbridge.
"There's not much else you can do but suck it up," said Kisio on the phone from the team bus as it headed to Moose Jaw for tonight's game (6 p.m., FAN 960).
"We're going to go out every game and whoever's available to play will do their best."
Getzlaf (19 goals) and Ladd (11 goals) have scored one-third of the Hitmen's 99 tallies on the campaign.
Ironically it's the Hitmen's success that's contributed to the player famine. The thin ranks, made more sparse by a rash of injuries, is a testament to the quality players Kisio and the Hitmen scouts have brought into the organization.
The club boasts 10 players drafted by NHL teams, four of them in the first round.
"I think our scouts have done a marvelous job over the last four or five years identifying very good kids ... and it's great for the organization," said Kisio.
There is some good news on the injury front as well. Both Brett O'Malley and Dansereau might be able to return tonight.