Stumbling along the last month and a half, the Alaska Aces made a move today before the ECHL trade deadline, sending second-year center and alternate captain Ethan Cox, and future considerations, to Reading for fourth-year forward and captain Ryan Cruthers, a point-per-game guy in his four ECHL seasons.
Cox, who generated 13-15--28 and +14 totals in 53 games this season, last season as a rookie helped the Aces to the Kelly Cup. He's been the team's third-line center, a principal penalty killer and a model of determination and professionalism.
Cruthers was having a bit of a down season in Reading, which is currently out of playoff position -- he was 11-28--39 in 48 games, and -19 -- but has been a point-per-game guy. In 228 career ECHL games, he's produced 84-151--235 totals. In 39 Kelly Cup games, he's 14-23--37.
The trade happened just before the ECHL's trade deadline.
"It's an opportunity to upgrade with what I consider a top six forward,'' said Aces coach Rob Murray. "As with any deal, you've got to give up something to get something and (Cox is) who Reading was interested in.''
Murray said his league-leading club, which is just 8-10-4 in its last 22 games, needed a shakeup. Cruthers lived with current Aces assistant coach for a couple weeks in the spring of 2008, coming out of Robert Morris University when Burt captained the Utah Grizzlies.
Cox said he was shocked when Murray called him into his office before practice this morning and told him he had been traded for the first time in his pro career.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting it, but I understand that’s part of playing professional hockey,’’ Cox said. “That’s the way it goes, and sometimes you’re that guy.’’
Cox, college hockey's Hockey Humanitarian as a Colgate senior in 2010 for his philanthropic contributions, has been an eloqent spokesman for the team and a guy who played exceedingly hard. That he was given an 'A' as just a second-year player speaks to how much he is respected.
He said it will be difficult to leave Anchorage -- he's scheduled to depart on red-eye Friday night.
“I love it here, not only the hockey and the Aces organization, but the people and the city,’’ Cox said. “And I have a girlfriend now and I’ve gotten to know her family well.
“Those kind of sentimental things run through your brain, but you don’t have any control over (the trade).’’
Best of luck to Cox, who has been pure class to The Blog.
Look for more on this trade in Friday's dead-trees edition of the ADN.
Also, the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL, who initially signed Aces winger Tyler Ruegsegger to a professional tryout agreement, have signed him to a standard AHL contract, which means they have his AHL rights for the rest of the season. He can still return to the Aces, who maintain his ECHL rights.