Kai Haaskivi was on the bench in Cleveland last night, not as coach, but as player, offering encouragement wherever he could.
"I have no problem being a player under another head coach," Haaskivi said. "Maybe because I've been able to play so little lately, I enjoy being a player as much as ever."
Following Friday night's 10-4 loss to St. Louis, Haaskivi was fired as coach. Assistant Trevor Dawkins was promoted.
The change didn't seem to have too much impact. The Crunch lost again yesterday, 6-4, to Kansas City.
In two seasons, Haaskivi's record was 27-44, including a 7-14 start this season. The Crunch has lost eight of its last nine, and it has the worst home record in the league at 3-12.
Haaskivi was warned about the difficulty of wearing two hats. All he had to do was look at the records of the six men who had tried it before him:
Gordon Fearnley, Cleveland, 1978-79, 2-4 (.333); Johnny Moore, San Francisco, 1980-81, 11-29 (.275); Ian Anderson, New Jersey, 1981-82, 13-14 (.481); Horst Bertl, Memphis, 1981-82 and 1982-83, 39-53 (.424); Shep Messing, New York, 1982-83 and 1983-84, 5-7 (.417); and Alan Mayer, Las Vegas, 1984-85, 4-6 (.400).
"I've been through a lot the last several weeks," Haaskivi said. "But I got through it. The question is what is left? I'm looking forward to playing. There is only one playing career and when it is over, that's it for playing.
"I just wish I could put together a good half a season. I guess in a sense, I was burning the candle at both ends."
Haaskivi remains sidelined with a groin strain. The target date for his return is next Friday in St. Louis.
"The truth is he is relieved; our whole family is relieved," said Haaskivi's wife, Maarit. "He went to the game [yesterday] feeling much better."
* BLAST TRADE? Among the many things Blast owner Ed Hale had to say this weekend is the team could be making a trade in the next few days.
In a meeting with Blast coach Kenny Cooper, general manager John Borozzi and assistant general manager Drew Forrester, Hale said he told them all to be thinking about alternatives.
"If there is anyone out there who is available and who could help us, we'll see if we can make something happen," Hale said.
"Ed has told me to find out what's out there and I'm making some calls," Cooper said. "We've played well sometimes, but you have to play for a result and so far we haven't been able to get one consistently."
* OVERTIME BLUES: After playing a strong game against Kansas City Thursday, the Blast made a torturous trip to Wichita, putting up with broken airplanes, delayed departures, a bus ride and an ice storm before finally reaching the Kansas Coliseum for Saturday's game.
As if all that weren't enough, the Blast lost to the Wings in overtime, 5-4, on a power-play goal set up by one of the biggest no-no's in sport -- too many men on the field.
"It is frustrating," said Cooper. "We played well enough to win, but we just can't get on a roll. When you're on a roll, you roll over things like that."
It was the Blast's fourth overtime loss in seven tries.
Nearing the halfway mark of the season, Cooper said after 22 games he expected his team to be 14-8, not 11-11 and in a second-place tie with the Wings.
* FORMER BLAST FACTOR: Freddie Thompson scored two goals yesterday as Tacoma held on to first place in the Western Division with a 7-2 victory over Dallas.
The former Blast midfielder helped the Stars end a two-game losing streak. The Sidekicks' Tatu regained the league scoring lead over St. Louis' Preki with one goal, his 33rd, but otherwise was held in check by defender Eddie Radwanski. It was Dallas' fourth straight loss.
* CARPET WOES CONTINUE: Blast and Arena officials have been working to repair the dilapidated playing carpet at the Arena.
But the rug still has not passed league inspection, and Hale said the players' union is now threatening "some kind of lawsuit."
"Their involvement will escalate the matter," said Hale. "But I really regret it. We have had nothing but a good working relationship with the Arena. We have all been working together on a solution. Now we have to deal with this."
Asked if he's willing to buy a new carpet, Hale said, "I don't want to spend any money on it. That carpet is used by more teams and for more things than just the Blast."