Condors

Wednesday, Jul 17 2013 09:50 PM

Lutes rejoins Condors, who are finalizing NHL affiliation

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The new Bakersfield Condors head coach Troy Mann, left, talks with the local media Wednesday afternoon at the Bakersfield Marriott after he was introduced during a press conference with dozens of fans on hand for the event.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Hockey player Brett Lutes, left, sits next to Bakersfield Condors general manager, John Olver, right, after the team announced Lutes is the first player added to the team's roster for the 2013-2014 upcoming hockey season.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Bakersfield Condors new head coach Troy Mann.

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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@bakerfield.com

The Condors introduced their first player signing -- former Condor Brett Lutes -- at a public meet-and-greet with coach Troy Mann on Wednesday, but the buzz was all about an affiliation with National Hockey League that will soon be announced.

"We have made a decision on an affiliate, we've reached an agreement and we will be announcing it once the paper work is signed," team general manager John Olver said.

Mann, who was announced as the new Condors coach on June 21, said he views an affiliation as necessary and has been working to secure one since he took the job after spending the past four seasons as an assistant with the Hershey (Pa.) Bears of the American Hockey League.

"A lot of work has gone into the last three weeks," Mann said. "I went down to the NHL draft and sat down and spoke with four different teams. It's taken time in the last couple of days because it was taking time for things to come to fruition, but things have come together and it's just going to be a matter of time before we make an announcement."

Mann won an ECHL championship as a player with Mississippi in 1999, which he noted had a double affiliation, and pointed to this year's Kelly Cup Final between Reading, Pa., and Stockton as Exhibit A of how good affiliations help teams.

"I look at (the 2013) championship team with the Reading Royals, a great affiliation with Washington (Capitals) and Hershey," he said. "That's not to take anything away from Edmonton (Oilers) with Stockton; they are up there as well as one of the better affiliations in the league."

The Condors have had NHL affiliations in just three seasons -- 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 with Anaheim Ducks and the next season with the Minnesota Wild.

Both Mann and Olver said the Condors had four teams interested in affiliating with the team and believe they have made the right choice. "The team coming on board with us is 100 percent a very good affiliation and we'll see a number of their players," Mann said.

As for Lutes, he said this was the perfect opportunity to return to the team he played for as a rookie and two other seasons.

"I'm very happy to come back," he said. "I'm a Bakersfield (resident) by marriage now. The opportunity to come back and play here is huge. The community, the fans, and the small-town feel are all something I've missed these past few years. I think coach is going to bring a new work ethic to this club and I am excited."

Lute, 31, played as a rookie for the Condors in 2004-05 and then again in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

He played 201 games with Bakersfield, scoring 74 goals and adding 95 assists for 169 points.

His best season came in '06-'07 when he led the team in goals with 34 and finished second on the team in scoring with 70 points in 67 games.

"Brett's a guy who I am familiar with and will be a veteran leader," Mann said. "He will bring a consistent effort and be a solid, two-way player this season."

Luttes played last season for Denver and Bloomington (Ill.) in the Central Hockey League.

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