Riggers could lose King

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

The first order of business yesterday was releasing the team's protected list for the expansion draft. The NLL's new franchise in Minnesota will draft in 15 days.

On the lists which had to be submitted to the league yesterday, teams could protect either 10 runners and two goalies or 13 runners and one goalie. They stand to lose only one player each.

The Riggers chose the 13+1 option, leaving promising backup netminder Matt King available to be taken by former Philadelphia Wings GM and new Minnesota boss Marty O'Neill.

"I know Marty has always liked Matt and has always been after him," said Roughnecks majority owner and president Brad Banister. "For us, we assume that's who he'll pick.

"But Marty is a pretty smart guy and he might go the other way and throw a curveball at us."

King, a restricted free agent, might not be the most attractive prospect for Minnesota, after all. The education student begins a full-time practicum in his hometown of Victoria in January.

King likely won't be able to fly in and play an eastern schedule next year, even if he wants to.

"I have mixed emotions, I guess, about the whole thing," said the 23-year-old.

"But given they're an eastern team, I might have to sit out the year anyway if they took me."

Calgary also chose to protect all-star forward Ted Dowling, who said he would retire after last season but hasn't yet filed the paperwork.

Eleven-year veteran Jason Wulder, a Calgarian now living in Vancouver, was not protected because he's an unrestricted free agent. Wulder isn't eligible to be taken in the draft but has made it clear he plans to finish his career here.

The NLL almost cancelled its season before signing a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union Saturday night.

Banister is happy to look to the future. With the NHL lockout in effect, this could be a banner season for the Riggers. The team has already sold 3,000 season tickets and is aiming to double that before the season starts in January.

"We've known about this lockout for a long time, believe me," said Banister. "We want to take advantage of this. You have to make hay when the sun shines and right now we've got to get our sport in the limelight. We don't want to do it on the back of the Calgary Flames or the NHL but realistically we have a great opportunity to introduce more fans to the game and we want to take advantage of it and get it done."

Banister reiterated his team is still for sale to the right buyer.

But the only right buyer, it seems, is the team's landlord at the Saddledome -- the Flames.

"There's one other group in town that could probably take this team to the next level," said Banister. "I don't think there's any doubt who they are -- they're the landlords.

"It's been brought up off the cuff before. But they know where we are, they know how to find me."


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