For the first time in Reign history, Chad Starling is not on the roster.
The 31-year-old, who played more ECHL games in the 2000s than any defenseman, was released from his contract today. Speaking via phone from his home in Saskatchewan, Starling said he was notified this afternoon on a phone call with head coach Jason Christie.
“Didn’t have room,” Starling said. “He said he didn’t have enough apartments and didn’t have enough room on the IR.”
Starling never made it to Ontario this year because of an immigration issue — one we’ll explain in further detail soon — and was the victim both of bad luck and a numbers game. He played 158 games in a Reign uniform, trailing only David Walker (210) and Tim Kraus (159) in team history, but none since November of last year, when his season was cut short by a groin injury he sustained in practice.
Now healthy and approved to work in America, Starling has no place to play for the moment.
“I’m going to go home and unpack my truck and my clothes,” he said. “After getting screwed around for three weeks, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve got something to fall back on, my parents’ business. I’m lucky. Not all the guys have that. I’ve been playing for 10 years. I’ve been playing for a long time. My first year, the price of gas was 99 cents a gallon. A lot has changed since then.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Starling had three goals, 20 assists and 199 penalty minutes for the Reign playing the role of a stay-at-home, shutdown defenseman under Karl Taylor. He had played for Jason Christie before in ECHL stops with Peoria and Utah.
The Reign have a game tonight in Las Vegas.