The condensed 2013 NHL season is just getting underway — but this year, veteran defenseman Mike Commodore finds himself without an NHL team to play for.
"It's frustrating being on the outside looking in," Commodore told CBC Hamilton after the Bulldogs' morning skate before a sold-out bout with the Toronto Marlies on Saturday.
Commodore, alongside six other Bulldogs players, was sent back down to the Hamilton squad from Canadiens training camp on Friday — but that's pretty much what he had expected would happen.
"I went in there and wasn't expecting to stay," he said. "There's just no space."
With seven defenders on one-way contracts and the Canadiens still actively trying to sign restricted free agent P.K Subban, there wasn't much room for the 33-year-old blue-liner to crack the Montreal squad.
"But I wanted to practice well — I wasn't going to dog it," he said. "I wanted to go up there and look good."
As he's heading towards the end of a 25-game tryout contract, Commodore finds himself at a bit of a turning point, and unsure where to head next.
"I've got a lot of thinking to do," he said. "I need to ask some questions as to how they view me in the organization."
"I like being down here and working with the young guys, but if I'm viewed upon as a guy to just stay down here and be the veteran guy in the minors, then I have some decisions to make on how to approach that."
In 15 games with the Bulldogs, Commodore has managed two points and 26 penalty minutes. He says he's been talking with people "high up in other organizations," and figures other teams could benefit from a veteran presence in the back end of the ice, especially in a shortened season that will likely be full of injuries.
"My best chance would be a team that's a contender — that thinks they have a shot at making a run in the playoffs. Maybe they have a couple of defensemen go down and don't want to fill the spots with young guys."
"I'm kind of being lost in the shuffle a bit," he said. "I think everybody knows what I can do, and I've proved it."
"It's just getting that opportunity again. It's finding somebody who is willing to give me a chance."