American Hockey League

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One Month Double Jump

Fun little factoid here:

Peter Mannino is starting for the Islanders today against the Blackhawks.

Also in the Islanders lineup: Joel Rechlicz.

Less than a month ago (and a short Feb month at that), these two played together in the ECHL for the Utah Grizzlies.

A few weeks in Bridgeport together, they’re now both skating at the top level.  Yes, the Isles may be in last place (in the league), but they have been playing well as of late.

Quite a journey for these two.

Posted by David M Singer on Mar 15, 2009 at 04:48 PM

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Brandon Sugden Signed Bobble Head Giveaway

Doing a giveaway on hockeyfights.com and I thought I’d repost the notice here in case anyone is interested:

To go along with the Brandon Sugden Q & A we’re going to give away a couple of bobble heads of Sugar in his “six guns” pose. Even better, they’re signed (yes, by Sugar… wiseass).

So how to enter? Easy - go to this thread and make a post. It can be anything, “I’m in” works just fine. Two posts gets you dq’d. It can be your first post lurkers. I’ll ship it anywhere, why the hell not, so any region can enter except for Canada (just kidding).

Let me spell out the rules some more:

* You can only enter once. Duplicate entries will lead to the poster being disqualified.

* Entrant must be 13 years old or older.

* Forum leaders cannot enter.

* You can only win one prize.

* Prize: A Brandon Sugden bobble head. Two prizes will be awarded to two winners.

* Winners will be chosen at random on October 24, 2006. I will post the winners’ username in the forums and on the front of the website [hockeyfights.com].

* Winners will be contacted by email. You must have a legitimate email address in order to win.

* Prize cannot be exchanged for cash or any other item you’ve ever seen in your entire life. If you don’t want the bobble head, don’t enter.

* You have to be a member to post. If you’re not a member already, sign up here.

Enter the giveaway

Posted by David M Singer on Oct 11, 2006 at 02:35 PM
1 CommentPermalink

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Josh Gratton to Get a Crack at the NHL - Maybe

The Arizona Republic has a story today how Josh Gratton might make his Coyotes debut tonight.

The Republic calls Gratton an “enforcer-type forward”.  He does have 9 goals this season in the AHL, matching his total from last season, but with 2 NHL and 18 AHL fights this season, and 31 AHL fights last year, Josh Gratton is definitely an enforcer.

Gretzky loves Gratton’s toughness and enthusiasm, but he is concerned Gratton’s not fully recovered from a staph infection in his right knee, and he doesn’t want to put Gratton into a situation where he might end up swapping punches with Columbus enforcer Jody Shelley when he’s not completely healthy.

Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant called some of his players “soft” after their defeat to Anaheim on Sunday, so the Blue Jackets likely will be feisty tonight.

“That’s one of the reasons I wouldn’t mind having Gratton in the lineup, but Shelley is one of the tougher guys in hockey,” Gretzky said.

“The last thing I want to do to a 23-year-old kid who is excited to be here is to have him fight one of the best fighters in the game.”

Gratton is extremely eager to show Gretzky what he can do.

“I talked to him about maybe just playing and forgetting about that (fighting) part of it, and he just kind of rolled his eyes,” Gretzky said. “So I’ve got to make sure he’s close to 100 percent before I put him in there.”

Speaking to a good amount of tough guys over the years (I’ve never spoken to Gratton), I’ll make the assumption this 23-year-old is looking to do anything but forget about fighting.  He knows he won’t get a lot of minutes of ice time.  In 3 games for the Flyers he averaged 5 minutes per game.  He might only get one chance to make an impression and chances are that’s a bout against Jody Shelley.

The Coyotes are 13 points away from a playoff spot.  The season will be ending in mid-April for this club.  It’s not uncommon to see an organization in the Coyotes position give a few young guys a shot, enforcer or otherwise.  The Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage is currently in dead-last.  There aren’t a whole lot of players that they need to test out, so it’s understandable that Gratton may get a few games in at this point.

However, this is a team that skated without a designated tough guy the whole season.  They had Doug Doull in the system before trading him to Washington/Hershey.  They still have Chris McAllister, who is not only capable when dropping the gloves, but has over 300 games of NHL experience.

When the Coyotes traded for Gratton (giving up Denis Gauthier and also getting two draft picks), I was a little confused.  Gretzky hadn’t been playing a tough guy all year.  Why trade for this kid if you’re not going to give him a shot?  Why not just get another draft pick?  There are a variety of answers, skill level of the tough guys they had, perhaps age (McAllister is 30, Doull 31).  Whatever it was, I found it odd.  Gretzky never needed to be a tough guy while playing, but his team (any of them) always had one who skated close by him.  While ‘Yotes captain Shane Doan isn’t shy about taking matters into his own hands, you can’t say the same about most on the roster.

So I wonder now: is Gratton getting a shot at being an NHLer?  Is he filler entertainment for the rest of the season now that the Coyotes are out of the playoff race?  Or is Gretzky testing his team to see if they play any differently with a tough guy on board?

Posted by David M Singer on Mar 21, 2006 at 02:47 PM

Monday, November 14, 2005

Rumor Killer: Krzysztof Oliwa Not a Coyote

If you’ve seen some transaction lists lately, you might think that Krzysztof Oliwa was claimed off of waivers by the Phoenix Coyotes.  Eurohockey.net and Slam Sports have it on their transaction lists.  Even NHL-centric TSN has the transaction listed on their player page for Oliwa, and Phoenix listed as his team when you search for players.  However, the move isn’t anywhere to be found on nhl.com and ESPN looks like it got something hockey-related right, at least by not having it on their transaction list.

A Coyotes rep has told me reports of the claim are inaccurate, the ‘Yotes have not picked up Oliwa off of waivers from the Devils.

Oliwa cleared waivers on Oct 25th and was sent to the AHL, but not the Albany River Rats, the Devils’ AHL affiliate.  From the Oct 27th Star-Ledger:

Left winger Krzysztof Oliwa, who cleared waivers Tuesday, was initially assigned to Albany. However, after having a conversation with general manager Lou Lamoriello, the Devils will look to assign him to an AHL team affiliated with another organization.

“We’ll see if he can be assigned somewhere where other people can look at him,” Lamoriello said. “Maybe a team that had been interested in him. That way they can see him every day. I’ve given him the freedom to talk to anybody.”

Posted by David M Singer on Nov 14, 2005 at 05:40 PM
1 CommentPermalink

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Colorado to Share Lowell With Carolina

Following up yesterday’s post about NHL-AHL affiliates, the Colorado Avlanche have announced they will share the Lowell Lock Monsters as an AHL affiliate with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has renewed its affiliation agreement with the Lowell Lock Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL) through the 2005-06 season. The Colorado Avalanche will also send their top prospects to Lowell as part of the one-year agreement.

Posted by David M Singer on Apr 27, 2005 at 01:54 PM

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Hershey Bears - Washington Caps Link Expected

The Washington Post is reporting that the Hershey Bears are expected to announce a new affiliation with the Washington Capitals today.

The move would be the first of several changes involving AHL teams. The Caps will end their affiliation with Portland, Maine; the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are expected to shift from Cincinnati to Portland; the IceCats of Worcester, Mass., are moving to Peoria, Ill.; and a new team will set up shop in Omaha, Neb., with other franchise relocations rumored.

Still unknown is which team will become the Colorado Avalanche’s new AHL affiliate.  Rumors circulated about the Avs talking to the Central Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles, and possibly trying to get them to jump leagues, but nothing has been mentioned about it lately.

The Eagles are currently going up against the Loredo Bucks in the CHL finals.  The action starts tonight and you can watch it live at CHLtv.com.

Update: The Bears-Caps affiliation is official.

Posted by David M Singer on Apr 26, 2005 at 02:42 PM

Thursday, April 21, 2005

NCAA and Bears Follow-Ups

Responding to a few emails I’ve received:

Heshey Bears NHL Affiliation

The Hershey Bears have officially parted ways with the Colorado Avalanche now that the Bears’ season is over.

Regarding a new affiliation, from the Patriot-News:

The Washington Capitals still appear to be the front-runner, but no deal has been signed. The expectation is that an affiliation announcement won’t come this week.

“We’ve been working extensively trying to secure an NHL affiliate,” said Doug Yingst, Bears president-GM. “It would be our goal and objective to hopefully have an answer within two weeks.”

The Frozen Four in Florida

South Florida is out of the running for the 2009, 2010 or 2011, but Tampa is one of six finalists.

The selection committee will visit Tampa on April 22, and each city will make a presentation at an NCAA hockey meeting in Indianapolis in June. The host cities will be announced in September.

The other finalists are the FleetCenter in Boston; the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.; the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia; the MCI Center in Washington; and Ford Field in Detroit.

I’ve only been to one game in Tampa (spring of 2004, against the NY Islanders), and it was a nice arena.  There were plenty of fans, many who seem to have gotten hockey down, although there was still a good amount of instruction throughout the game.  It didn’t seem like there was anything else going on in the area at that time.

The northern cities have a good advantage in terms of location.  It’s not just about being a “hockey market” than it is about possibly having the teams involved be local (making it much easier to sell tickets).  Although, lets be honest, is anyone in Minnesota really going to complain about going to Florida in early spring?  I doubt it.

Maybe Alabama-Huntsville, the only southern Division I team, will make the tourney that year (they were a win away this year, losing in the CHA title game to Bemidji State), giving the UAH fans a nicer commute.

Good luck Tampa.

Posted by David M Singer on Apr 21, 2005 at 02:40 PM

Friday, April 01, 2005

Changes? What Changes?

You know you’ve heard it: when the NHL returns - the game will be different.  The AHL has made all sorts of changes this year: moving the nets back a couple of feet, implementing different offsides and icing rules, having wider blue lines, tinkering with the colors of the ice surface, limiting goaltender movement, having a shootout - all to see if this will increase offense and flow in the game.

Now there are talks of possibly making the nets bigger along with all those other changes.

Well, wait a second, Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press reports that these changes haven’t worked, even shootouts aren’t what were expected:

“There was a shootout last game,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said in Houston, where he watched the minor league Aeros. “They made three out of 10, one goal on one side, two on the other. Maybe five out of 10 wouldn’t be too bad. But three out of 10?

“The goalies are bigger. The equipment is bigger. It’s just harder to score.”

And those other changes?

In fact, the changes might have had an adverse effect on the game as defenders have compensated by clutching and grabbing more than ever.

“I’ve seen some games, I’m telling you, they just hold and grab,” Lemaire said, sounding offended by the whole approach.

“Play has deteriorated,” said [Wild GM Doug] Risebrough, who has been following the Aeros. “The skill players are trying to perform, but there is so much obstruction. I was disappointed by the level of officiating. With all the holding, it doesn’t matter what you do to the ice surface.”

Risebrough said the obstruction surely will carry over to the NHL whenever play resumes. The more changes are made to boost offense, the more defenders will grab and hold. And unless the referees put a stop to it, which hasn’t happened yet, it’s only going to get worse.

One thing is for sure, the NHL is looking to improve the game.  Changes made for the sake of change aren’t going to work though.

I’ll fall back on what I’ve been saying for some time.  I think it all comes down to one thing more than anything else: coaching.  Coaches coach to win, and nothing else.  There’s no “entertainment” in the job description, nor is there much security nowadays.

Coaches need guaranteed contracts.  Give a coach a three-year guaranteed contract and say “win and entertain”.  A coach with a guaranteed contract isn’t paranoid about every non-converted breakaway and giveaway made by his team (or her team, as we’re progressive here at TIB).  This sort of coach doesn’t exist anymore though.  What you have now is a system where everyone has to win today or they’re gone tomorrow.  It forces coaches to ream players who take risks.  We don’t see many defensemen who move up to join the rush because of systems, not because of a lack of talent.  Move up and possibly turnover the puck and give the opponent and odd-man rush?  No way, you can be benched the next game for that.

Clutching and grabbing doesn’t exist just because players decided to do it more, it’s because it’s practically taught into the game.  Taught one day, whined about the next.  You simply can’t let anyone get by you for a scoring opportunity, and don’t you dare move into a risky position, even if it can lead to your own scoring chance.  Boring, mistake-free hockey.

Develop a player?  Are you nuts?  Players have to produce now or they’re out of town faster than you can say Olli Jokinen (That’s OH-lee YOKE-ih-nehn. Ok, so you have a little time, but don’t push it).  Why would any coach give a developing player ice time for the future coach to get credit for his play?  Why risk losing today for the coach of tomorrow?  What it comes down to is you just can’t.  You have to win now, or you’re gone and the product on the ice is going to reflect that.

This isn’t to say coaches need to coach throughout their entire contacts.  If it’s not working out for a coach, he should be able to be re-assigned within the organization for some percentage of his coaching salary.  Also, at that time he should be free to talk with other teams, and if a move is made the current contract is ended.  Simply said: there’s a bit of a cushion.  You can’t lose everything, and you have more room to take risks.

In the end, you have to look at what’s working and what isn’t, and many of the proposed changes simply aren’t working.  There’s no reason to implement rules that do nothing to improve the game, and there’s certainly no reason to give fans false hope.  Let’s try and start hitting this thing at the root.  No more band-aids, let’s give the game some real medicine.  Influencing coaching can change style of play more than anything else, and hopefully more people with more ideas to influence coaching changes will surface before play begins in the NHL again.

Posted by David M Singer on Apr 01, 2005 at 05:32 PM
2 CommentsPermalink

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Caps Considering Hershey as New Affiliate

The Colorado Avalanche haven’t chosen a new affiliate yet, but they have said goodbye to the Hershey Bears.

The Washington Capitals, currently affiliated with the Portland Pirates, are believed to be interested in having Hershey as an affiliate.  The Caps were affiliated with Hershey from 1977-78 to 1983-84.

Distance was a major factor in Colorado’s decision.  The Avs are said to be considering a team closer in locale as an affiliate, although this season few players were actually under Colorado contract, and Hershey was not happy with the arrangement either.

If the Capitals were to choose Hershey as their new AHL affiliate over Portland, the drive would be reduced from ten hours to two.  Air travel was possible from Portland, but the Times notes weather is always a concern.

Many NHL teams have chosen AHL affiliates that are closer in location over the past decade, or even have the team move into the same NHL city.  Some of the latest moves include the Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate moved from Toronto to Edmonton in time for the 2004-05 season and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ affiliate in St. John’s will move to Toronto next season.

Posted by David M Singer on Mar 26, 2005 at 05:29 AM
2 CommentsPermalink

Thursday, March 10, 2005

HSBC Arena Tests Blue Ice

HSBC Arena with blue ice
Click to see the Sabres’ full diagram

The Sabres announced they have made their ice light blue for when HSBC Arena hosts two Rochester Americans games.

“We are very excited to experiment with a light blue ice surface,” said Buffalo Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn. “The National Hockey League first introduced the idea of using different types of ice colors and we asked their permission to experiment with the blue ice concept during our two upcoming AHL games. We think the action on the ice will show up better on television with a blue surface and will be easier to see the flow of the puck.”

This experiment, approved by the National Hockey League and the AHL, will also see the traditional blue lines replaced by orange lines and the red center ice line will be dark blue. The face off circles will be orange while the end lines and crease lines will stay red.

This is a big change for hardcore fans, but just a subtle change to the casual observer (not the line colors, but the ice surface itself).  Some have suggested that the blue ice can make it much easier for people to not only follow the game on tv, but watch an entire game.  The bright white ice surface can tire eyes out and the light blue can allow for many to watch a complete game with less strain on the eyes.

I’ll wait to see a game on tv with the different ice surface before making any assumptions, but I am glad that things like this are at least being tested.

Posted by David M Singer on Mar 10, 2005 at 06:05 PM
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