Mudbugs Sign Blaznek and Clayton
BOSSIER CITY, LA – The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central Hockey League today announced the re-signings of the team’s top two scorers from last year for the 2009-2010 season. Veteran forwards Joe Blaznek and Travis Clayton will both return for their second year in purple and teal, bringing the number of players signed by the ‘Bugs for next year to five.
“I’m definitely thrilled to have Travis and Joe back with our hockey club again this year,” said Head Coach Scott Muscutt. “I thought both of them played extremely well for us last year and they’re going to be vital to our success again this year. The experience, veteran leadership and competitiveness that these guys bring will help set the tone for this hockey team.”
Blaznek, 33, will play his 12th professional season in 2009-10. After being acquired in a trade with Corpus Christi last summer, the 6-1, 205-pound forward led Bossier-Shreveport in goals (24), assists (39), points (63), and plus/minus rating (+20) while playing in every game for the team last year. He also went on to contribute seven points in seven playoff games.
“It was rejuvenating for me to come here last year,” Blaznek said. “Starting fresh in Bossier and contributing to the team in ways other than just scoring really brought the excitement back into the game for me. I’m definitely not ready to retire, and that’s why I’m back this year. I really feel like we have a chance to do something special. I’m pumped.”
Blaznek notched his 600th career point and played in his 600th pro game last season, which was his sixth in the CHL. The Detroit, Michigan native was a finalist for the league’s MVP award in 2006 after enjoying a career year in which he put up 44 goals and 100 points for the Wichita Thunder. He has also been named to five All-Star Games in his 11 prior seasons, including three in the CHL (2004, 2006 and 2007). Blaznek has posted career totals of 288 goals, 328 assists and 616 points in 654 career games in the AHL, IHL, ECHL and CHL.
Clayton, also 33, will suit up for his 13th year pro as the CHL’s all-time leader in games played. The Paradise Hill, Saskatchewan native broke that mark last year and enters 2009-10 with a league-record 760 games played. He also ranks second in CHL history in goals, assists and points.
After spending all of his first 11 pro seasons in Wichita, Clayton joined the Mudbugs as a free agent last year and finished second only to Blaznek on the team’s scoring list. The 5-8, 180-pound center scored 21 goals to go with 31 assists for a total of 52 points. He had a +16 rating and led the club with 13 powerplay goals. Clayton then took center stage for the ‘Bugs in the postseason, recording seven goals and 11 points in seven playoff contests. He also appeared in his seventh All-Star Game last season, serving as a Co-Captain of the CHL All-Star team that faced off against the Colorado Eagles.
“I’m really looking forward to building on what we did last year,” said Clayton. “Now we just have to focus on buying in to the team system and taking the little steps that will lead to big things. I know Coach Muscutt is working hard to bring in the missing pieces, and the rest will be up to us.”
Clayton, who was a member of the 2005 All-CHL team, has scored at least 25 goals nine times in his career and also has five 80-point seasons to his credit. In a total of 772 pro games, he has recorded 347 goals, 541 assists, 888 points and 1,139 penalty minutes.
Blaznek and Clayton are the first two veteran-status players Bossier-Shreveport has signed this offseason, giving them two vet spots still available. They join forward Brett Smith and goaltenders Ken Carroll and John DeCaro as the Mudbugs’ five players signed so far for 2009-10.