Although not guaranteed to be with the Crunch this season, since Tampa Bay's 4th line is looking a little lonely these days, many are assuming that the signing of forward Mike Blunden is meant to bring good things to Syracuse. If he is meant for Syracuse, then the fun thing here is that Crunch fans know exactly what to expect. And they have every reason to be excited about it.
LIGHTNING SIGN FREE AGENT RW MIKE BLUNDEN TO ONE-YEAR CONTRACT
TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed right wing Mike Blunden to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Blunden, 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, played in seven games with the Montreal Canadiens in 2013-14. He spent the majority of the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League with 18 goals and 37 points. Blunden ranked third on the Bulldogs for points and second for goals.
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Blunden has appeared in 102 NHL games with Montreal, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks. He has recorded four goals and eight points during his NHL career, which also includes one playoff game with the Canadiens in 2013. Blunden has played in 379 career AHL games with Hamilton, the Syracuse Crunch, Rockford IceHogs and Norfolk Admirals, posting 83 goals and 187 points.Blunden was drafted by Chicago in the second round, 43rd overall, at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
Crunch fans will remember Blunden from the organization's Columbus Blue Jackets days. He was a part of the 2008-2009 Syracuse squad, where he played in 39 games and totaled 16 points. He was traded to Syracuse mid-season and was the first step in an attempt to turn the team around after a one-win December. He immediately took hold among the fan base and in the dressing room, and was a big part of a season improvement plan that saw the Crunch fall just two points short of a playoff spot.
The following season, Blunden played in 25 games for Syracuse, all during the months of January and February. He registered 16 points during that time span and played in the first AHL outdoor game in league history, the Mirabito Outdoor Classic. He assisted on both goals the Crunch scored during on route to their win that day, including netting the sole assist on Alexandre Picard's history-making first goal. During that season, Blunden was coached by current Crunch assistant coach Trent Cull, so his connections to the organization are still alive and well.
Blunden has been a pain in the Crunch's neck for years now, as he's one of those former players who seems to score every single time he returns to the War Memorial. He's also gotten into some more recent and rather memorable scraps with players like Philippe Paradis. Blunden is a tough skater and a hard competitor. No matter where he ends up in the organization, it's exciting to see him back again.