And then there were three.
The list of original Adirondack Phantoms shrank late Thursday afternoon when the Philadelphia Flyers traded defenseman Kevin Marshall to the Washington Capitals for forward Matt Ford.
The scraggly haired, thick-bearded French Canadian was one of the most recognizable faces of Adirondack hockey.
Billed as one of the Flyers' ascendant prospects, Marshall's rookie year coincided with the team's first in Glens Falls. He ended up playing more games here -- 185 -- in a Phantoms uniform than anyone else.
As much as that and his aggressive style endeared him to the fans, the longer Marshall stayed here, the more a day like this seemed inevitable. As others signed with him and after him rose to the NHL, the handwriting on the wall became clearer. Always a good solider, at times this season you could at times see frustration seep into his game and his usually outgoing disposition.
With Marshall's entry contract rapidly coming to an end this summer, the Flyers had to decide whether they'd seen enough or if they wanted him around for another year. In the end, they chose to move the 21-year-old for a piece that addresses one of the Phantoms' immediate needs.
Ford, who will report to Adirondack and play Friday night against Norfolk, looks to give the Phantoms the offensive upgrade and scoring depth they desperately need.
The 27-year-old, 6-foot-1, 207-pound right winger had 10 goals and 28 points in 39 games with Hershey this season, playing on the top line at times. He had a breakout year with Lake Erie last season, scoring 26 goals in 76 games. He's an unrestricted free agent at the end of season.
"He's had a knack for scoring some goals in the past," Phantoms coach Joe Paterson said. "Look at our scoring on the right side. ... We don't have a lot over there, so it will be good to have another scorer coming from the right side."
This is a trade that makes short-term sense for both AHL clubs involved.
The Flyers swapped a prospect who'd been passed on their depth chart and had fallen out of their NHL plans for a player who can help the Phantoms qualify for a playoff spot this season.
The Washington organization, meanwhile, needed depth defensively, but has plenty of scoring forwards in Hershey. Ford was sixth on the Bears in scoring. His carryover statistics make him the second-leading scorer on the Phantoms.
The trade works for the players, too.
Marshall, who paid as many dues as can be asked for here, is closer to the NHL than he was yesterday morning. Defensemen like Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson, who've played well with the Flyers, surpassed Marshall in the organization's pecking order and made him expendable.
Paterson, who spoke to Marshall late Thursday, said the Capitals told him he'd be in line to compete for an NHL call-up.
"He's probably a little bit higher there in terms of their depth chart," Paterson said.
While Ford was a complimentary piece in Hershey, he'll be given a much larger role here and get the chance to showcase his abilities for a future contract. If he's a skill player, he'll have the room to shine here.
The Flyers also needed to clear the eight-way logjam on the Phantoms' blue line and create ice time for their three rookies - Brandon Manning, Blake Kessel, Oliver Lauridsen - and an emerging Cullen Eddy, who the coaching staff is high on. It makes more sense to spend development time on them than a guy in the final year of his deal.
Of course, the Flyers aren't blameless in creating that backlog. They tied their own hands by creating a salary cap and roster situation where they had to stash Matt Walker and Oskars Bartulis with Adirondack.
Though it may help both clubs right away, the trade isn't a win-win situation all around. It's an admission of a longer-term failure by the Flyers.
Marshall was a second-round draft pick and they obviously hoped to get much more out of him than 10 NHL games and eventually flip him for an AHL player who is a bit on the older side of being considered a prospect. There's also the countless hours and energy they devoted to Marshall's development, only to see the eventual payoff, if there is one, occur elsewhere.
The long-term value of the trade will be decided by what kind of player Marshall turns into with Washington. The biggest upside, barring a surprise, lies on the Capitals' side of the equation.
However, if Ford gives the Phantoms the scoring boost they need to make a playoff push, Adirondack fans will worry little about that final calculus.
Tim McManus may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (@PSPhantoms) and read his daily updates on the Phantoms Forum blog online.