Swider puts dent in Ice Bears' salary cap
By NICK GATES
Jim Bermingham is spending wisely, but the Knoxville Ice Bears hockey coach is quickly running out of money.
Bermingham must operate under a $5,600 per week salary cap in the Southern Professional Hockey League this season. He'll have to be frugal after signing Kevin Swider.
Swider is the cornerstone of the Ice Bears' offense.
The 26-year-old from Livonia, Mich., was Knoxville's leading scorer with 40 goals in 2002-03. Swider spent the bulk of last season with Miami (World Hockey Association 2), but collected six goals and eight assists in seven games with the Ice Bears.
"A lot is going to be riding on his shoulders and he knows that," Bermingham said of the MVP candidate.
Fans have seen what Swider can do on the ice, but his contributions don't end there.
"He's a third-year pro now and he's going to be a leader off the ice," Bermingham said. "He's such a smart player and he knows the game. He has such a good work ethic, he'll rub off on the younger players."
Swider is in the fold along with all-star defenseman Alex Alepin, goalie Jamie Ronayne, defenseman Rob Miller and newcomers Marcus Forsberg and Anthony Purchase.
Bermingham has money for K.J. Voorhees, a 53-goal scorer last season who led Knoxville in scoring. Voorhees entertained an offer from Germany, but probably will re-sign with the Ice Bears.
"He wants to be here and I want him here," Bermingham said. "We're going to get it done."
Todd MacIsaac (19 goals, 40 assists) has committed, if he doesn't find a coaching job. Forward Craig Desjarlais (27 goals, 55 assists) is another priority.
"I need to solidify our roster with K.J. and Daisy," Bermingham said. "That line (Desjarlais at center with Swider and Voorhees) would be the most dangerous line in the league."
Desjarlais is considering retirement.
"He wants to play," Bermingham said, "but he is getting married and they want to buy a house."
Does Bermingham have the dollars to sign the nucleus and have any left over for an 18-man roster? The league minimum is $275 a week for Canadians. Teams can pay U.S. players below that, so do the math.
"If T-Mac gets a coaching job or Daisy doesn't come back, it'll make my job easier," Bermingham said. "It'll depend on how much money these guys want. They might have to take pay cuts. I just don't know."
Forwards Forsberg and Purchase will not begin the preseason with Knoxville. Forsberg is going to training camp with Fort Wayne (United Hockey League), while Purchase plans to start with Toledo (East Coast Hockey League).
The 5-7 Forsberg, a 23-year-old from Sodertalje, Sweden, had nine goals and eight assists in 43 games with El Paso (Central League) last season.
"He comes recommended from Dave King, who is still with the LA Kings and coaches in Germany," Bermingham said. "They (Kings) send their prospects to him. Dave called me about a month ago about Marcus."
Purchase is a rookie from St. Mary's University, but has some experience with the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior League.
Notebook: Bermingham is trying to secure a working agreement with Toledo (ECHL). The Storm is an affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. Ex-Ice Bear forward Rob Rangus signed with Rio Grande (CHL). Defenseman Sergei Savchenko is working on his immigration papers to return after sitting out last season. Macon has re-signed former Ice Bears captain Steve Zoryk and signed a working agreement with Augusta (ECHL), while Asheville has hooked up with Wheeling (ECHL). If there is an expansion draft, Bermingham has decided to protect Rangus, and goalie Jason Tapp, even though they aren't likely to return. Enforcer Jeff Hansen has a tryout offer with Anchorage, but will return if he is released by the ECHL team.
Web posted on Aug. 8, 2004