Syracuse Crunch: The start of the Zettler era

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Transitions in Tampa have given way to transitions in Syracuse.

A lot has changed in the three weeks since I've written for Raw Charge. Many of the Syracuse Crunch's statistical leaders are no longer in Syracuse and are tearing it up in Tampa. Radko Gudas, Tyler Johnson, Dana Tyrell, and Richard Panik all got the nod to go up, leaving the Crunch with a stripped roster that's pretty much down to nuts, bolts, and Brett Connolly.

This past week, of course, was as much of a transition period for the Syracuse Crunch as it was for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Losing coach Jon Cooper to Tampa made way for Rob Zettler to be promoted to the head of our bench. It also saw former Tampa Bay assistant coach, Marty Raymond, get sent to Syracuse.

According to the Syracuse Crunch news release, Zettler played in the NHL for 14 seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, the San Jose Sharks and the Tortonto Maple Leafs. He skated in 569 career games, recording 70 points. He retired in 2002 and joined San Jose for the Sharks radio, where he was a color analyst. He also helped to create the Sharks Alumni Association. He was hired by the Lightning last summer as an assistant coach to Cooper.

Raymond joined Tampa in 2010 after working with the Montreal Canadian's AHL club, the Hamilton Bulldogs for the 09-10 season. Before that, he was head coach of the McGill University Redmen for 14 seasons. During that time, Raymond built up a 293-192-35 record in 520 games. In 2008, he helped the Redmen bring home the Queen's Cup league championship for the first time since 1946.

The Crunch has seen several different coaching eras in the past five years. The final year of the Columbus Blue Jackets affiliation was also the final year of the Ross Yates era, a mostly unstable period of frustration. The first year and a half of our affiliation with the Anaheim Ducks saw the Mark Holick era, a time period that is often considered to be some of the most tumultuous and frustrating days in the club's history. The Holick era gave away to the Trent Yanwney period, which was marked by a dramatic turn-around in a season that still ended disappointingly with a quick first-round exit by a team that should have been better than that.

That, of course, brings us up to this season and the too-brief Cooper era, which has now given way to the Zettler era. Needless to say, Crunch fans are getting a little weary of coaching changes. I get it, it's our job, we all knew Cooper's time here was going to be short, Tampa wasn't going excelling, etc. I know. But it doesn't exactly make the change any easier to swallow, especially so close to the AHL playoffs.

The Crunch lost this past Wednesday in regulation shutout to Rochester, lost in OT Saturday night in Norfolk, and then capped off the weekend with a 2-0 loss against the Admirals. So, we were shutout twice in three games, and gained one single point after being up 4-1 and losing 5-4. Zettler starts his tenure as Crunch head coach with a 0-3 record.

If Tampa doesn't start sending help soon, this team has a very good chance of being blown out of the first round (once we actually clinch a playoff berth). We could have clinched Saturday night, but there's just nothing left down here. We still have another month of the NHL left to go. Who knows what kinds of injuries and roster transactions that will bring.

Uncertainty rules the day.

Player Transactions of note:
3/26/2013: Brian Lee (D)...Reassigned to Syracuse from Tampa Bay
3/25/2013: Carl Nielsen (RW)...signed to a PTO for the Syracuse Crunch
3/21/2013: Cedrick Desjardins (G)...Recalled by Tampa Bay
3/21/2013: Pat Nagle (G)...Reassigned to Syracuse from Florida (ECHL)
3/21/2013: Richard Panik (RW)...Recalled by Tampa Bay
3/19/2013: Alex Hutchings (LW)...Reassigned to Syracuse from Florida (ECHL)
3/15/2013: Dana Tyrell (RW)... Recalled by Tampa Bay
3/14/2013: Danick Gauthier (LW)... Reassigned to Syracuse from Florida (ECHL)
3/14/2013: Tyler Johnson (C)...Recalled by Tampa Bay
3/12/2013: Radko Gudas (D)...Recalled by Tampa Bay
3/11/2013: Kyle Wilson (C)...Traded to the Anaheim organization for Dan Sexton (RW)
3/11/2013: Pat Nagle (G)...Reassigned to Florda (ECHL) from Syracuse

Latest Stats:

  • Magic number to make the playoffs as of 3/30: 2 points

  • Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 39-20-4-5

  • Place in the conference standings (top 8 make the playoffs): Third place

  • Place in division standings: First

  • Top scorer: Brett Connolly, 27-30-57

  • Top scoring defenseman: Mark Barberio, 8-32-40

  • Top defenseman, +/-: Dmitry Korobov, +23

  • Top rookie: J.T. Brown, 10-15-25

  • Game attendance: 3/15: 4,981; 3/16: 5,416; 3/20: 4,145; 3/22: 5,876; 3/23: 6,184 (sell out)

Team notes:

  • It was announced that the Syracuse Crunch will be playing the Hershey Bears in Washington, D.C. next year. The game is scheduled for February 23, 2014, at the Verizon Center. The Washington AHL Showcase, as it's been dubbed, got it start this past season as Hershey defeated the Norfolk Admirals by a final score of 2-1.
  • It was also announced that the Crunch played their 1,500th game on 3/22.
  • Demitry Korobov is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury as of 3/30
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