Brandon Manning will have to wait a little longer to crack the Philadelphia Flyers starting lineup with the NHL in lockout mode since Saturday night.
The Prince George native was in his hometown, participating in a ceremonial opening face-off before Saturday's BCHL game between the Spruce Kings and Penticton Vees, when the lockout went into effect. Manning played in four games with the Flyers last season but spent most of the season with the Adirondack Phantoms in the American Hockey League where the defenceman accumulated six goals and 19 points in 46 games. He missed training camp last year while recuperating from off-season hip and groin surgery.
With only four NHL games under his belt, Manning has to rely on the NHLPA representatives to keep him informed of what's happening with the bargaining.
"Right now it's just kind of sit and wait," he said. "It's out of my control. There's not much I can do about it. I've just got to make sure I'm ready for the season."
Before beginning his pro career in the Flyers' organization, Manning played one season with the Spruce Kings before moving onto the WHL for three years (2008-11) with the Chilliwack Bruins.
Manning said he's looking at the increased competition with NHL players reassigned to AHL clubs as an opportunity to fine tune his game and prove he can play against the elite players.
"It's going to be the best league there is now in North America," said Manning. "It's a challenge but at the same time it's a boost for your confidence to be able to play against those guys and players like that every night. I think if there is an NHL [season] and you get an opportunity it's an easier transition when you're playing against those players and with them."
Manning will have the chance to play with Flyers' players Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier on the Phantoms, while the Edmonton Oilers sent Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Oklahoma City and the New Jersey Devils assigned Adam Henique and Adan Larsson to Albany.
When a player is on their entry-level, two-way contract they can be sent to the AHL without having to clear waivers. Other key players that may skate in the AHL are Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings, Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Phoenix Coyotes, Alexander Burmistrov of the Winnipeg Jets and Jeff Skinner, 2011 Calder trophy winner for rookie of the year, of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Phantoms finished last season with a 37-35-2-2 record, missing the playoffs. They hired a new coaching staff, led by Terry Murray with Kjell Samuelsson and Riley Cote as assistants, for the upcoming season.
"You want to make a good first impression," said Manning. "I just want to play as much as I can and just get better and go from there."
Manning plans to practice alongside the Spruce Kings and the major midget Cariboo Cougars until he has to head to Adirondack for Phantoms' training camp, Sept. 26.
Notes: Manning is the only player in Prince George affected by the labour war between the NHL and the NHLPA as Prince George Cougars forwards Troy Bourke and Colin Jacobs won't attend training camps with the Colorado Avalanche and Buffalo Sabres, respectively, this week.