The Manitoba Moose have lost one of their best and most recognizable players, as free-agent winger Jason Jaffray has agreed to terms on a contract with the Calgary Flames.
"Certainly replacing Jason Jaffray will be very difficult," Moose GM Craig Heisinger said last night. "He's been in our organization for four years and given us everything he had.
"He certainly earned the opportunity to make the decision he's made. He's done everything we've ever asked of him."
Jaffray's departure comes a day after Manitoba's leading scorer, centre Jason Krog, latched on with the Atlanta Thrashers.
EXPECTED TO BOLT
Krog, however, was expected to bolt after not getting much of a chance with the parent Vancouver Canucks.
"There's obviously a changing of the guard when you go the finals," Heisinger said. "Krogger made the decision to go back to the organization he came from.
"We're grateful for what he did. He helped us get to the final and showed us some things about learning how to get there."
Krog, a 33-year-old from Fernie, B.C., had 30 goals and 56 assists in 74 games last season. He took less money to sign with the Thrashers ($550,000 for the next two years) than he played for last season in Manitoba ($605,000).
Jaffray finished second in Moose scoring this season, notching 23 goals and 26 assists in 56 games. He then added nine goals and 10 assists in 22 games during the Calder Cup playoff run, which ended with a Game 6 loss to the Hershey Bears in the final.
He was also a dynamite guy to have in the dressing room.
"He's a heart-and-soul guy," Heisinger said. "He does everything you need. He's a hockey player. Those guys are hard to find."
Signing with the Flames is a homecoming of sorts for Jaffray, who hails from Rimbey, Alta., about 200 km north of Calgary. Then again, he made Winnipeg his home during his four years with the Moose. It's where his daughter was born, and his family bought a house here.
Now he's moving on, and the Moose are proud of him.
"To say we're not happy for Jason Jaffray would be wrong," Heisinger said.