Lewiston refuses to trade its future

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LEWISTON – Lewiston Maineiacs’ General Manager Clem Jodoin’s face bore a scowl as he emerged from a closed-door meeting with assistant Ed Harding and team Vice President Matt McKnight.

Jodoin trudged up the stairs to the rink at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, his footsteps heavy and echoing loudly in the cavernous hall.

Upon his return 10 minutes later, he looked more frustrated than anything – disappointment, perhaps.

For the first time in his three-year tenure at the helm of the organization, Jodoin tried to make a deal to markedly improve the team for a stretch run.

But he found no takers.

“We wanted to get better, but not at any price,” Jodoin said.

He made bids to Acadie-Bathurst for Mathieu Carle. He sent offers to Moncton for Luc Bourdon, and he offered some compensation to the P.E.I. Rocket for Marc-Andre Gragnani.

All defensemen.

All rejected.

“I would have liked to improve the team, but I couldn’t,” Jodoin said. “There’s a price to pay, but up to a maximum.”

Jodoin would not reveal the specific offers he made to each team, but that the counter-offers all included either 17-year-old star defenseman Kevin Marshall – who leads the league in plus/minus – or David Perron, who is the odds-on favorite for the league’s Rookie of the Year honor.

“It could have been easy for me to do that, to trade away whatever other teams wanted, but then what happens next year?” Jodoin said. “We have some good young players, but we were not ready to sacrifice a Perron, we were not ready to sacrifice Marshall.

“We couldn’t give up the heart of the team,” Jodoin continued. “We could have gone after a key guy, but it would have cost us too much.”

The buzz word at the office, then, is status quo.

Jodoin was quick to point out that it may not be a bad thing, as his demeanor started again to change. A smile even crept in above his chin.

“We’re still in first place,” Jodoin said. “We’re still in the picture, and we’re not going to sacrifice everything. We tried. We were ready to trade some players, some picks.”

Jodoin cited next year’s potential as another reason he was not willing to part with most of his key players. The team will return at least five of its eight current defensemen, in addition to the league’s No. 1 goaltender in Jonathan Bernier.

“Why give up on next year now?” Jodoin said. “We have a good team, we can win with this team. It doesn’t matter what teams have on the paper. It’s what’s on the ice.”

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