Thunder coach Jarrod Skalde announced Tuesday that veteran forward Don Parsons has been placed on waivers, less than two weeks after the 39-year-old Boston native broke the all-time minor league record for career goals and just days after general manager Jerry McBurney announced his resignation.
"Don Parsons has served this organization proudly for a year and a half," said Skalde, whose team is mired in last place in the International Hockey League. "Obviously the milestone he set was a great achievement. I just felt that we were at the stage where a move had to be made.
"Don's having a pretty good year, but it was an opportunity to do something that I think will help us in the long run. It opens some (salary) cap room and allows me to go get a higher-end guy."
Parsons, the second-leading scorer for the Thunder and a 17-year veteran, said he wasn't totally surprised by the move.
"They just thought they needed a change around there, and I guess they thought changing me would help things out," Parsons said. "I'm not going to sit here and badmouth anyone or say anyone made a bad move or anything.
"At the end of the day it's a business and anybody is susceptible to being traded or released or whatever. I knew that something had to be done around there to kind of change scenery. I knew pretty much nobody's job is safe. I don't know if I was surprised that it happened or not."
Skalde termed the decision to waive Parsons "very difficult." Parsons had 33 points on a team-high 21 goals and 12 assists with a minus-14 rating.
"I've known Donny for a year and a half and we've worked closely together," Skalde said. "It took him by surprise. It was very difficult to do, especially with a guy that has a wife and family.
"Donny's a class guy. He understands that it's a business and it's a business about winning. We're not winning. I've made changes all around this team and we're still getting the same result. It's not pointing fingers at one guy."
Parsons, who commuted to Bloomington from his Quad Cities home where he lives with his wife and two children, passed Kevin Kerr to become the all-time goal scoring leader on Dec. 27. He has 682 goals and 626 assists for 1,308 career points to rank 16th all-time.
Parsons was the team's most valuable player and leading scorer last season with a franchise-record 81 points and he also holds the record for goals scored in a game at U.S. Cellular Coliseum with four.
"Obviously the record speaks for itself there," Parsons said of the Thunder's 10-20-1 mark. "It's just one of those things and unfortunately it comes at this time of my career."
Parsons said he will weigh his options regarding his hockey future.
"I guess I have to take a few days and see if any opportunities present themselves and then go from there," Parsons said. "All I keep hearing from my support group here is one door closes and another door opens. I'm waiting for that proverbial door to open I guess."
Thunder acquires Kuster
The Thunder obtained right winger Henry Kuster from Muskegon on Tuesday in a trade for future considerations.
The 31-year-old Kuster, a 6-foot-1, 228-pound native of Alberta, had 12 goals, 17 assists, a minus-1 rating and 36 penalty minutes in 28 games with the Lumberjacks this season. He was a second-round selection (No. 45 overall) in the 1996 National Hockey League draft.
"He's going to help out offensively," Skalde said. "He's a big kid, and I've said all along we need more size up front. It will help our power play having more size up there, and he's a quality, quality person.
"He's not here to replace Don Parsons. He's here to help our hockey club."