MOLINE, IL – The Quad City Mallards have begun drastic moves in an attempt to end their 11-game losing streak. Tuesday, the Mallards announced that they had sent captain Chris Francis to the Orlando Solar Bears to complete the pre-season trade in which the team acquired Tristan King. The Solar Bears have several former Mallards, as Joe Perry, Alex Gudbranson, and Mike Monfredo are all down south in the Sunshine State. Of course, Francis didn’t stay in Orlando for long. Promptly after being traded to the Florida-based team, he was sent to the Wheeling Nailers.
“I didn’t choose to protect him,” Mallards head coach Phil Axtell told the Quad City Times’ Bobby Metcalf. “Since he came back from his injury and started playing, the team has gone 0-11. We’ve gone on this mysterious losing skid and something had to change.”
Axtell continued: “It’s hard, he was unable to physically train from October to the end of November,” Axtell said. “For two months he was unable to physically train and then he jumps back into it. You spend that much time not training … I didn’t see him coming along.”
Francis did not start the season with the Mallards, suffering an injury before the start of training camp that prevented him from passing the physical. Francis re-signed with the team on November 28, playing 11 games for the Mallards before the trade. In those 11 games, he put up six points – three assists and three goals – but was a defensive liability, going -13. The previous season, Francis played 63 games for the Mallards and was a leading scorer for the team with 27 goals and 33 assists.
King, who was acquired from Orlando on September 21, has played 24 games for the Mallards. He has only scored twice, adding nine assists as well. King played for three teams last season; Allen Americans, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and Indy Fuel. In total, he appeared in 55 games for the three teams while amassing 15 goals and 22 assists.
The Orlando Solar Bears sent Francis to Wheeling immediately after receiving him, also acquiring forward Michael Turner and future considerations in the transaction. Hunter Fejes was sent from Wheeling to Orlando to finish out the trade. Turner had played nine games for the Solar Bears before the trade, scoring twice while getting in one fight. He signed with the Swamp Rabbits on December 8, 2016, playing 19 games with them before finishing the season with four games in Orlando. He scored once with three assists while with Greenville but was held off the scoresheet during his four games with Orlando to end the 2016-17 season.
Fejes had played 32 games for the Wheeling Nailers this season, totaling 16 goals with 11 assists. The season prior he made 48 appearances for the Rapid City Rush, scoring 18 goals and adding 20 assists. Fejes was drafted in 2012 by the Arizona Coyotes in the 6th round.
The Mallards return to action on Friday night, when they open a two-game road swing in Wichita, KS to face the Thunder.