Corey Locke had some options in the offseason before signing with the Chicago Wolves. But after playing last season in the Finnish Elite and German leagues, he felt the Wolves were the best fit for him and his young family.
He signed in late July to return to the American Hockey League, and scored a goal in his Wolves debut, a 2-1 victory over San Antonio last Friday. The teams meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Allstate Arena for the Wolves' home opener.
"I was thrilled when we got something done in the summer and the opportunity to come back to the AHL," Locke said after Thursday's practice at Allstate. "And then coming back to play here, it’s one of the best organizations in the AHL. Obviously you can see the championship history they have here and the winning mentality they have. So it was a perfect fit and I’m glad I’m here."
In turn, the Wolves get a player with his own championship pedigree. Locke has played for two Calder Cup winning teams (Hamilton, 2007, and Binghamton, 2011). He also won the German league title last season with Berlin.
With the Senators in 2010-11, Locke led the league in assists (65) and points (86) and was named AHL Most Valuable Player.
But it was with Hamilton that Locke had his most exposure to the Wolves. Chicago fans will remember it was Locke's Bulldogs (then coached by ex-Wolves coach Don Lever) that skated past the Wolves, 4-1, in the 2007 Western Conference Final best-of-seven series.
That's something Locke hopes Wolves fans have forgotten.
"We beat these guys in '07," Locke said, dropping his voice to a conspiratorial tone before adding, "You don’t have to say that."
Right now, Locke is happy to be wearing the Wolves uniform.
"I’m very familiar with Chicago and being here," he said. "You know the guys they had here, the Krogs and Haydars, there’s a reason those guys stayed here so long and enjoyed it. It’s a great set up. Just being here a month you can tell it’s just such a well-run organization."
Notes on Locke:
- He and his wife have a 15-month old daughter
- Had 520 points (172 goals, 348 assists) in 573 regular-season AHL games coming into the season
- Also has 60 points (25, 35) in 62 career AHL playoff games
- Played for three seasons with current Wolves teammate Mark Mancari with the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League
- Fourth-round pick (113 overall) of the Montreal Canadians in 2003 Entry Draft