The first exhibition game of the new kids in town, the Baltimore Bandits, will be Wednesday on the road against the vaunted Hershey Bears. Three days later, the teams will do it here. Just like the old days.
Try as they might, though, the Bandits are having problems thinking about the neutral-zone trap and the power play. No wonder. The first thing resembling a full practice won't be for a couple more days.
In fact, coach Walt Kyle won't even be around until tomorrow. A lax, slovenly organization featuring lots of slack? No. Why, just yesterday, assistant coach Mike Gibbons had three players, one a goalie, out for a practice. They probably ended up playing bridge.
The Bandits are a farm team of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. As such, their roster, probably numbering 22, won't be known until Anaheim coach Ron Wilson and general manager Jack Ferreira have doped out which players are sticking with the big club.
In the latest cut, the Ducks assigned five "John Does" to Baltimore, and wings Maxim Bets and Craig Reichert and defensemen Scott Chartier, Brian Corcoran and Mark DeSantis probably will be on the same plane with several other assignees, coach Kyle and general manager Pierre Gauthier coming "home."
So it won't be as though that first practice Saturday will feature rusty players. It's not unlike when the Skipjacks were the top farm club of the Washington Capitals: Everyone in the organization practiced under the same roof and watchful eyes of coaches down the road at Piney Orchard. These days, a 20-minute drive has been replaced by a five-hour plane ride, that's all.
"It takes about two weeks for a team to get ready to play, and we'll have pretty close to that when we finally get going," said Gibbons. "And it's not as though these guys haven't been practicing with the Ducks right along."
At the same time, the figuring is that Kyle will have as many as a dozen returnees off the San Diego Gulls team of the International Hockey League he handled for Anaheim last year. "Walt will know what these players are all about, and they'll know him as the no-nonsense guy he is," Gibbons said.
NOTES: Season-ticket holders can pick up their tickets and take a spin on the Arena ice Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. . . . The club will train at the Columbia Ice Rink.