Mile-high migration

TY PILSON, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 6:34 AM ET

Ben Prepchuk says he holds no ill will towards the Calgary Roughnecks.

Despite a relatively messy divorce from the team, the 23-year-old Sherwood Park native, speaking publicly for the first time about the trade, said he\'s moved on.

\"I\'ve pretty much put it behind me,\" said Prepchuk, who will take to the floor tonight against his old team when he suits up for the Colorado Mammoth in National Lacrosse League action in Denver. \"I didn\'t want to dwell on it much more. Once Colorado picked me up, it was time to look ahead and just forget about whatever happened in the past. Just concentrate on lacrosse and try and get the job done.\"

After more than three weeks of unsuccessful contract negotiations with the Roughnecks, the team dealt Prepchuk to the New York Saints on Dec. 19 for Rob Kirkby and a first-round pick. Prepchuk refused to report to the Saints, the team that dealt him to the Roughnecks prior to last season, and was then dealt to Colorado on Jan. 25 for four players and three draft picks.

Prepchuk scored 40 goals last season to lead the Roughnecks and finished second in points with 78, only one behind Kaleb Toth.

Prepchuk and Roughnecks majority owner Brad Banister originally didn\'t see eye-to-eye on money, with Banister saying Prepchuk was asking for the league maximum ($20,800 US). Another sticking point was Prepchuk\'s status as a fly-in player from Edmonton. Banister wanted him to move to Calgary to save costs.

Prepchuk was willing to relocate but had already enrolled at NAIT in Edmonton. He asked for the team\'s help in getting him into SAIT which they agreed.

Prepchuk\'s agent, Tony Glavin, said they checked with the SAIT registrar and found out only one inquiry was made about getting Prepchuk enrolled leading him to conclude the team was negotiating in bad faith. That, coupled with the addition of Tracey Kelusky and worries about how much floor time he\'d get, led Prepchuk to call Banister and request a trade.

However, after the initial inquiry, the Roughnecks said they had gone to SAIT athletic director Ken Babey to try and cut through the red tape and the ball was in motion to get Prepchuk in when the trade request came. Calls to Babey by the Sun confirmed this.

So, at the end of it all, it seems miscommunication and mistrust, more than anything, is the reason Prepchuk isn\'t in a Roughnecks uniform this season.

Prepchuk took a fair bit of flak from fans and in cyberspace after being perceived as greedy.

\"That kind of bothered me,\" he admitted. \"Never did I ever ask to be the top-paid player on the team and that\'s what everybody was saying. I mean, people can choose to believe whatever they want or whatever they hear but what it came down to wasn\'t really a money issue. But I try not to think of it anymore. Like I said, it\'s over now. Whatever.\"

Prepchuk started slow in Denver and scored only one goal in his first three games while he got his sea legs back. He scored three in the team\'s 20-12 loss to New York last Thursday and said he now feels back up to par.

So will the soft-spoken righty feel extra pressure to perform against his old \'mates tonight?

\"I don\'t think so,\" said Prepchuk. \"I\'m just looking at it as another game and I\'m going to go out and do what I can for my team to help my team win. So I\'m not thinking about it. I think if I focus on things like that too much, it might take me off my game.\"


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