Blog: Details on the developing Esner and Augusta situations

According to head coaches on both sides, center Bryan Esner asked to be traded from Gwinnett.

Gladiators coach Jeff Pyle confirmed remarks Augusta coach John Marks made over the weekend when Esner was traded to the Lynx in exchange for winger Travis Fuller. Esner had recently been moved from center to the wing and that precipitated his request.

"His agent was like, 'If you can't put him in the middle, then move him to Marksie or move him up north somewhere,'" Pyle said. "And Marksie had called me about 10 days ago and said he needed a centerman.

"I said I needed a left wing and I like that Fuller kid. He's just an up-and-down guy, but he's a young kid. He's only 22. But he'll be a fit for the type of team we have."

By "up-and-down guy" Pyle is talking about Fuller's ability to get up and down the ice, to play both offense and defense.

Gwinnett didn't announce the trade until Monday, but it was on the league's transaction wire Friday.

Esner didn't report to Augusta though. He went back home to Phoenix to decide if he wanted to keep playing professionally.

Since Esner nearly didn't report to the Gladiators when he was acquired in a deal for goaltender Craig Kowalski on Oct. 13, Pyle wasn't surprised with the development.

"I could kind of see it in his eyes," Pyle said. "I've been around enough players to know.

"I don't think it was that he didn't want to be here. I just wasn't really sure what his goal was."

Adding to the intrigue is Augusta's precarious situation. Rumors started flying late last month that the team was on the verge of collapse. The league denied published reports to that effect one week ago. Then on Friday, Augusta's ownership held a press conference to admit the franchise was in dire straights.

Despite some optimistic reports over the weekend, Saturday might have been the final Lynx home game.

Things were still up in the air Tuesday morning when the Gladiators left for their road game at South Carolina.

If Augusta can't find the financing it needs, it will throw the ECHL South Division schedule into a chaotic state. The Gladiators were preparing for the possibility that Augusta would drop out this week.

Gwinnett is scheduled to play in Charlotte on Thursday and again at South Carolina on Saturday.

But a tentative backup plan would send the Gladiators to Mississippi for a pair of games Friday and Saturday. Augusta is supposed to play the Sea Wolves three straight nights starting Thursday.

That would leave Charlotte and South Carolina to play each other. The division's other member, Florida, is on an extended road trip through the North right now.

Stay tuned. If Augusta goes under, it will be the first time in the league's 21-year history that a team folded in the middle of a season. It will also play havoc with the Gladiators' schedule.