|Maxime Fortunus (Credit: Steven Christy)|
The AHL veteran was one of just two remaining original Texas Stars on the club and had been its captain since the 2012-13 season, which saw the arrival of Willie Desjardins and the NHL lockout.
Fortunus is second overall in games played in franchise history, totaling 402 contests over six years. Only Travis Morin has more in a Stars' sweater (408). Fortunus came to the Stars already a wily veteran thanks to a stint in Manitoba where he played in the Calder Cup Finals the year before Texas' inaugural season. Fortunus would play in two Calder Cup Finals with the Stars, losing to Hershey in 2010 but defeating St. John's in 2014 as the club's captain.
Fortunus will certainly find a job somewhere in the hockey world, but it's an open question if that will be in the AHL or elsewhere. At this point, he has not ruled out Europe as an option. However, as he always has said during his time in Texas, he wants to put his family first. He's still in town this week as his oldest finishes up the school year before heading back to Canada for the summer.
With the departure of Derek Meech, Fortunus and likely Cameron Gaunce, the Stars are in a bind when it comes to veteran talent on the backend. Among currently signed players, Julius Honka has the most AHL games played at 68 regular and three playoff contests. Scott White will have to be working the phones one month from today to ensure his promising pack of blue liners that includes Esa Lindell, Mattias Backman and Ludwig Bystrom has a mentor of the calibre of Fortunus or Meech.
White has always placed huge value on the defensive group in Texas, so he likely has a plan. However, it is surprising to say the least that Maxime Fortunus is not part of it this season.