Chris Francis (12), who scored 60 points for the Mallards last season, was dealt to Orlando on Tuesday.

Chris Francis was a big part of the Quad-City Mallards' success last season.

His time with the franchise ended Tuesday.

The Mallards traded Francis to Orlando, completing the September trade that brought forward Tristan King to the Mallards in exchange for future considerations.

The Solar Bears traded Francis, along with Michael Turner, to the Wheeling Nailers in exchange for forward Hunter Fejes.

The Mallards could protect six players, including King, as part of the original trade with Orlando.

"I didn't choose to protect him," Mallards head coach Phil Axtell said. "Since he came back from his injury and started playing, the team has gone 0-11. We've gone on this mysterious losing skid and something had to change."

Francis joined the Mallards last year and served as the team captain. He scored 27 goals and added 33 assists for a team-high 60 points in 63 games, helping the team go on an eight-game winning streak and finish with 40 wins for the first time since 2006.

This year, Francis missed 19 games with a herniated disk and has six points in 11 games but struggled defensively, posting a minus-13 rating in that span.

The team has also struggled, losing 11 straight games.

"It's hard, he was unable to physically train from October to the end of November," Axtell said. "For two months he was unable to physically train and then he jumps back into it. You spend that much time not training ... I didn't see him coming along."

It's a disappointing way for Francis' tenure with the Mallards to end, especially with high expectations coming off last season.

"I think he was upset a little bit but he understands, he wanted to be here," Axtell said. "I had plans for him to be on the top line and he's one of the top line guys in the league. Then he gets hurt and can't come back, he missed all the time from working out and training and getting better."

Axtell said he is continuing to look for trades to be made but the team's struggles, as well as the potential return of goaltender C.J. Motte from the AHL, makes it hard for Axtell to find pieces to help, particularly in net where the Mallards have struggled in Motte's absence.

"It's hard to bring in a goalie because they know that once Motte comes back they're gone," Axtell said. "Once injuries are healed, the chances of them being here are less likely."

It will be over a month between wins for the Mallards, who try to break their skid Friday against Wichita. The Mallards last won on Dec. 2 against the Kansas City Mavericks.

Motte in Iowa: There is no definitive timetable for Motte's return from the Iowa Wild but he is having another strong stint in the AHL. In three games with the Wild Motte is 1-0-2 with a 2.23 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. In his AHL career Motte is 4-3-3 with a 2.16 goals against average and .929 save percentage.

This week: The Mallards travel to Wichita, Kansas to take on the Thunder on Friday at 7 p.m. The Mallards are 0-1-1 against the Thunder this season.

Saturday, the Mallards travel to Independence, Missouri to take on the Kansas City Mavericks at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena at 7 p.m. The Mallards are 2-2-0 against the Mavericks this season.


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times