The Peoria Rivermen were casual observers as the SPHL trade deadline arrived Monday afternoon.

The 35-5-6 Rivermen made no deals, although that doesn't mean they are done with their roster.

"We're always looking for ways to improve our team," Rivermen coach Jean-Guy Trudel said. "That is a daily process that never ends. There are some things we might still be able to do.

"We watched and listened today, but there wasn't anything for us."

Quad City, parked in ninth place and all but out of the playoff race at 12 points out of the final spot with 11 games to play, swung a series of deals.

The Storm sent veteran center Danny Cesarz to Macon for defenseman Brian Rowland and center Sam Wilbur.

Macon, with perhaps the best group of forwards in the league, added Cesarz — who was under Quad City team suspension after the Storm had acquired him from Knoxville in a trade last month. He never played a game for Quad City.

Cesarz has 38 points in 38 games this season and 43 goals with 88 assists in 152 career SPHL games.

Macon sent center Justin Levac to Roanoke earlier in the day to get Rowland.

Quad City turned around and traded Wilbur to Fayetteville for defenseman Paul Fregeau.

On to the stretch run. Peoria moves into its third week of training camp-style conditioning as it runs out the schedule with 10 games to go.

The Rivermen have already clinched a top-three finish, and their magic number to earn the league points championship is 11 over Birmingham and six over Huntsville.

HULL OF A STORY: Rivermen players and staff were treated to an impromptu chat with NHL Hall of Fame and Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull when he rolled in to the team locker room on a scooter before the game Saturday.

He talked hockey and game philosophy and shared some stories from his playing days.

"My favorite part of his talk with us was about the origins of the curve in the stick," Trudel said. "He said Stan Mikita hated his sticks and wanted better ones. So he would put them in the door and bend the blade until it broke, and then go get a new stick.

"Well one day the stick wouldn't break. It just bent into a curve.

"Hull said. 'I went out for practice and Stan was out there really ripping shots, looked just amazing. Then I looked at his stick and it was bent. He said he was going to ask the manufacturer to make him a bunch of these. I told him to order some for me, too.'

"And that's how it all started. After that, guys would soak the blade end in hot water until it became soft enough to bend. Then they'd stick the blade end under the bottom of a door, bend it up so the shaft rested on a chair, and wait for it to dry in place overnight."

OH BABY: Congrats to Rivermen veteran winger Mike Gurtler and his girlfriend, Jessica Dickens.

The couple is expecting their first child later this year, and they made the announcement after Sunday's game on the ice when she and Gurtler — he still in uniform — posed for pictures with a hockey stick from which baby shoes were dangling.

You can see the picture online with this story at

RIVER READINGS: The Rivermen 53-shot effort in a win over Quad City on Sunday was the third-highest overall shot effort and second-highest for a home game in Peoria's SPHL history. The Rivermen have reached 50 shots or more 10 times in 326 regular-season SPHL games. They've had 53 twice this season — the other time in a Nov. 10 loss to Fayetteville in OT at Carver Arena. Peoria had 55 shots in a 5-2 win on Feb. 14, 2015 at Fayetteville (current Rivermen players Mike Gurtler, Ben Oskroba and Alec Hagaman were in that game). And the team record in its SPHL era is 58, set in a 4-3 loss to Fayetteville in Carver Arena on Feb. 27, 2015. ... All told, the Rivermen have six 50-plus shot games at Carver Arena in their six SPHL seasons. ... Seven of the top 13 players on the SPHL scoring leaders list are current or former Rivermen players. ... Former Rivermen center Nick D'Avolio was waived by Evansville. ... Pensacola has won 10 of its last 11.

Dave Eminian covers the Rivermen for the Journal Star, and writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for Reach him at 686-3206 or Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.