Royce left amid roster concerns

Published 8:51 am Friday, September 5, 2008

Former Albert Lea Thunder defenseman Adam Royce shocked the team’s coaching staff when he told head coach Brad Zangs and assistant coach Brian Murphy Aug. 26 that he no longer wanted to play for the team, but it was a move Royce considered weeks prior to the beginning of practice Aug. 25.

Royce, the first player tendered by the Thunder, started thinking about leaving the team after the main camp concluded and roster decisions were finalized, he said.

“I didn’t feel it was going in the right direction, for me at least, because in order for me to move up to the next level this team has to do well,” Royce said. “In order for them to do well they have to perform on the ice. I just didn’t think that was going to happen.”

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Royce believed the team wasn’t going to perform well because of some of the roster decisions.

“They didn’t put all the talent on the ice that they could have,” Royce said. “That was very frustrating to me because obviously I want to be the best I can be. Without winning games you’re not going to have many scouts at the game, looking to move you up. I did not think it was going to be very beneficial to me.”

There were differences between the quality of players that former head coach Paul Willett drafted or tendered and those that Jim Perkins, director of hockey operations for the Thunder, selected, Royce said.

“I think Paul did a very good job,” Royce said. “Minnesota was the main state he recruited. Jim Perkins Chicago. There are eight or nine kids on the team from Chicago and that’s where he’s from. What a coincidence.

“I knew Paul was a good coach, and he knew a lot about hockey. I knew a lot of his players that he tendered and drafted that he wanted on the team were very capable of playing at this level. It’s another guy, more so, his picks were a little weaker.”

Perkins declined to comment.

Royce expected more of a veteran presence on the team.

“I thought they would get more veterans or guys from USHL camps that got cut, but we didn’t do much of that at all,” Royce said. “I think the scouting could have been better as well.”

Zangs felt that Royce didn’t give himself an opportunity and the team an opportunity. The Thunder begins play at the NAHL Showcase Sept.17 and is a tournament where scouts attend, Zangs said.

“If he’s worried about scouts, it’s unfortunate because he doesn’t get it,” Zangs said. “When we go up to the Showcase there are going to be a ton of scouts out there.”

According to the NAHL Web site, monthly progress reports are submitted to the NHL Central Scouting and all major college programs.

Royce’s concern with scouts appearing at games stems from his opinion of the players on the roster.

“The chemistry with some of the players we had, I just don’t think we’d been very successful as a team,” Royce said. “I don’t think it would have been beneficial.”

Zangs questioned how Royce could form such an opinion.

“How do you make a fair judgment on a team when you’re only there for one day?” Zangs said. “All I know is this is over and done with and I’m moving on.”

Zangs and Murphy believed Royce left the team to focus on his academics, but Royce said that had little influence on his decision.

“There were numerous reasons why, that was probably the littlest reason,” Royce said.