These 'Dogs are nobody's strays

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

The Mississauga IceDogs, contrary to some thinking, have not changed their name to the Mississauga LameDucks and they won't be travelling around the province this winter with rucksacks full of their belongings.

With Ontario Hockey League clubs opening training camps this week, the IceDogs are in a unique spot -- they know the chances are good the 2006-07 season will be their last in Mississauga. Where they end up is anyone's guess, but so far, business is fairly usual at the Hershey Centre.

"I've found it to be more of a non-issue for the players than I anticipated," new coach and governor Mike Kelly said. "When we do talk about it, I point out the positives, that wherever this team goes, there is going to be a community that welcomes it with open arms and red-carpet treatment."

Said forward Jordan Owens, who was tied for the 'Dogs scoring lead last year: "It's in the back of our minds, but the task ahead of us is playing hockey. It's something we will have to deal with and adjust to."

In mid-July, the OHL approved the sale of the IceDogs to Eugene Melnyk, who already had the St. Michael's Majors in his stable. Melnyk will move the Majors to the Hershey Centre from St. Mike's Arena once the IceDogs are sold. Cities mentioned as possible destinations have included Buffalo, Niagara Falls, North Bay and Syracuse. If a sale of the club is not done by Dec. 31, it will remain in Mississauga for 2007-08.

Kelly, who has a two-year contract and will go with the team if it moves in time for next season, has other things to worry about. He is the ninth 'Dogs coach in their brief history, and after winning the division crown in 2005, the team finished last in the Central a year ago for the fifth time.

"I don't think there will be a dominant team in our division," said Kelly, who takes over from Greg Gilbert, the new coach of the Toronto Marlies.

"We have depth. Our improvement will be internal growth. The players know they will finish the season here. There is no 'Woe is us.' (The thought of moving) could very well bring us together."


Videos

Photos