Dennis to start; Funk out indefinitely

The Portland Pirates will kick off their 2008-09 season tonight with a skate against Manchester. The Maine Hockey Journal reports that Kevin Dineen will likely keep Jhonas Enroth in waiting, instead giving the start to veteran netminder Adam Dennis. MHJ has also posted what they feel will the line combos for the contest.
F Mancari – Kennedy – Gerbe Darche – Zagrapan – Murphy Whitmore – Hunter – Bouck Fretter – Schutz – Bonneau

D Weber – Card Butler – Baier Kostka – Gragnani

With Mike Funk concussed, the presence of Mike Weber should provide quite a spark to the Pirates blueline. Per the Portland Press Herald, Weber thinks there might be a natural flicker by no longer sharing an AHL affiliation with the Florida Panthers.

Portland Pirates defenseman Mike Weber had been in town less than 24 hours, but he already sensed a big difference between this AHL team and the one he played on last season in Rochester.

"It's a better setup than what we had in Rochester," Weber said Friday morning. "We had two different (NHL) teams barking at the coaching staff, and there was a divide in the locker room. Here, it's a different situation."

Last spring, the Sabres ended a 29-year relationship with the Rochester Americans after sharing the AHL affiliate with the Florida Panthers for three seasons.

"Florida said they wanted these systems, and Buffalo said they wanted these systems, and the players were in the middle," Weber recalled. "It was a little bit crazy."

In June, Buffalo became the new NHL parent of the Pirates after the Anaheim Ducks ended their three-year affiliation with Portland.

"Everyone's on the same page here," Weber said. "It provides a less stressful environment."

It's safe to say that these comments validate the patience that many have taken with promising talents like Marek Zagrapan. On top of lacking veterans, last year's Amerks lacked any sense of cohesion.
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