Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Fair is fair: JR settled down after the first period.

To the Flint Generals: former Bucks Gabriel Proulx and Marco Emond. Emond will form a tandem with ex-Bat and recent bridegroom Dan McIntyre (congratulations Dan!).

Also: former Outlaw (and oh yeah, Ice Bat) Kris Waltze -- does this mean Legault could be a Gen?

And one more: the always scrappy and serviceable former Ray, Bat, Outlaw, Saint, Jackalope and Gorilla Brent Currie (who's not quite a vet up in the U). It's funny -- when Currie didn't make the Bats last fall, it was thought he was competing for a spot with Derek Stone. In hindsight, you can almost say he would have been an upgrade over every d-man Austin went with out of camp except for Stone.
Shut up, JR!

Seriously -- you know me. I love the guy. I love the Flyers. I want Robert Esche to be the best player in the tourney. I want a U.S. win. But right now he sounds like an injured CHL player cheering from the press box, not a national TV announcer.

Monday, August 30, 2004

We interrupt the hockey talk to say farewell, Todd Martin.

Tennis, you wonder? Trust me -- Todd Martin's tenacity, willingness to play hurt and regular-guy air would have been right at home on ice. It's just a shame he never got to have his Ray Bourque (or Dave Andreychuk) moment, particularly in Queens.

How shaky is the WHA? Apparently, the WPHL has a better chance of putting on a season.
Hockeyblog.com contributing editor Greg Rajan points out that the press release from the previous item's link still includes the words "RiverKings Hockey—A Toronto Maple Leafs Affiliate." Maybe it doesn't expire until tomorrow (or, oh, September 15)?
No more Leafs deal for the RiverKings.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The latest Hockey News reports that the NHL has gone back to normal waiver rules regarding who can and can't be sent down to the "A" during a lockout (as opposed to the "50 game rule"). This is good news for the lower leagues, and makes it even more possible that teams won't actually need an affiliation to pick up the odd two-way contract.

Also in THN, Ottawa and Binghamton's Ray Emery is the latest sieve to bitch about the 10-inch pad proposal, which the AHL has actually tabled until 2005-2006.

Here's what I don't get -- wouldn't the other team's goalie also have the smaller pads? And isn't the object of the game for the TEAM to score more goals than the other TEAM? That's not to say smaller pads or bigger nets are the answer to hockey's offensive stasis, but even the goaltending community's real concern -- that higher GAAs could equal smaller contracts -- doesn't make sense if the scoring increase was leaguewide.

Which isn't to say the trap and defense-first did not put money in some goalies' pockets. Anyways, if it's good enough for Patrick Roy...
Two tidbits jump out at the end of Mike Heika's World Cup story: the fact that shoulder checks to the head or neck are illegal outside the NHL and the words "ESPN analyst Jeremy Roenick."

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I like college football as much as the next guy, but there's a hockey game on Monday afternoon! Here's some World Cup Predictions from the Canadian Press.
The WHA denies reports that the NHL might buy their league. For what, a loonie?!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Bill Clement: sultan of the shuttlecock (cue Beavis and Butthead-style chuckling).
Greg Rajan clarifies the CHL's new affiliation structure, or as some might call them, "The Colorado Rules."

Teams with affiliation will notice a big change this season, as players on two-way contracts no longer count $450 toward the $8,500 weekly salary cap. The CHL has gone to a sliding scale that is expected to cut down on the abuse of two-way contracts to circumvent the cap.

Veterans with 260-plus games experience will count $625 against the cap, players with 129 to 259 games will count $525 and players with 128 or fewer games will count $425.

'The governors wanted to put something in that would encourage the more developmental players to come to our league,' said Duane Lewis, the CHL's vice president of operations.

This is a good rule. As far as the Ice Bats go, it shouldn't mean a thing, as historically speaking their affiliated players have always been rookies or second year guys. Tim Findlay, Ryan Pawluk, Jeff Kungle, Dan Price, Ryan Brindley, Troy Stonier, Mike Gaffney, Philippe Plante and Kelly Smart all came in under 128, while Bobby Brown and David Brosseau were in the middle range.

And while I joke about the "The Colorado Rules," it's worth noting that many of Laredo's two-way guys the past two years -- specifically, Brent Cullaton, Max Birbraer, Jason Spence, Eric Schneider, Andy Lundbohm and Michel Periard -- would have also triggered higher rates.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Could there be any more Internet bandwidth dedicated to the subject, whither Shawn Legault?. Will he retire, will he go back to Elmira, will he re-sign with the Scorps? Anyway, the real reason I linked to that post is the claim that Kris Mallette is now a Colorado Eagle.

Odessa fans may wonder -- does Kenny Corupe want to live in West Virginia?

That same link finds Louisiana Ice Gators coach Todd Gordon promising a partial affiliation with the Aeros, which as I said before is fine by me.
Ask for WHA news and you shall receive.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

As far as I'm concerned the Ice Bats' affiliation with Minnesota is nothing less than manna. It doesn't have to get them Ed McGrane, or even the four-five bodies of Bats/Aeros yesteryears, to have a huge impact on the quality of Austin's team. Two defensemen would be just fine.

And I'm not worried about whether Lafayette will get the better pickings because A) Lafayette's a mess and B)You don't want too many players, lest they all get taken back (I know, I know, somehow Laredo managed).

This is also a situation where the lockout could be crucial. Even under the most stringent proposed rule governing NHL prospects' eligibility, the Aeros have a half-dozen key players who can stick around.

Of course, that a two-way street -- the Bats could have some stud playing for them while, say, Wanvig plays for Houston, then all of a sudden, lockout's over, Wanvig's on the Wild and the Bats guy is a goner.

More questions: is it possible Austin hasn't announced the signing of their top two returning centers 'cause the Aeros have one coming? Were Genesse and McNabb recruited with the promise of affiliation? Might Matt Shaw re-direct that player allegedly headed to Quad Cities? (And is that player Bill Kinkel? The Bats still need a tough guy).

The bottom line is all of Austin's success has been in part because of Houston, especially when players like Kelly Smart, Dan Price, David Brosseau, Jeff Kungle and Mike Gaffney stuck around beyond their two-way deals. Also, an unaffiliated team has yet to win a championship in the post-merger CHL. Be fun to see what happens now. Fans should also remember this means the roster doesn't get 100% filled until October.
Questions of the day, regarding other leagues.

I know their arena's not complete, but how is it possible the UHL Danbury Trashers aren't selling tickets yet? The home opener is in just over six weeks! As I told a friend of mine in New York City, the good news is, if they were truly fly-by-night and in danger of not playing, you'd expect just the opposite.

The ECHL already shut down Greensboro and Roanoke. With slow construction in Victoria, might another team get taken off the schedule, albeit for just one season? Salmon Kings ticket sales have been real good, but given that this is the league's first Canadian market and many in the city wanted the WHL, it would make sense to wait instead of giving them a patchwork year of not-so-homey home games.

And oh yeah, if this happens, where does Ryan Finnerty end up? And speaking of Greensboro (where brand new Cotton King Matt Turek came from)... "dismemberment?"

Meanwhile, it looks like former WHA2 flagship Orlando will not play in the SPHL.

Which reminds me, when's the WHA season start?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Did Paul Hamm deserve the gold? International Gymnastics Federation judge Rufus Lopez could not be reached for comment.

I'd say something about how the Central Hockey League is no more bush or error-prone than the governing body of the most prominent sporting event in the known universe (which I also happen to believe), but comparing any organization to the IOC is damning with faint praise.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Could the CHL return to Nashville? For now, this feels like another pie-in-the-sky prospect a la Abilene, what with the dubious assertion that Global "owns more than a dozen hockey teams" and "operates 20 sites around the country." (Link credit to Hans Hornstein).

Shea Harris in San Angelo points out that Outlaw Shayne Stevenson was also a first-round draft pick.
Ouch! The junior vs. minor pro debate flares up in New Mexico, with W.D. Frank's impassioned (and, it should be noted, private) response prompting this post by Marc Foster.

Now, my personal POV is that the CHL is better, but no one's more qualified to express an opinion on this issue than Foster. He put in plenty of years and dollars watching those "hangers-on and guys not quite good enough." He's already on record as saying the recent Texas Tornado clubs could beat the very best Oklahoma City Blazers teams.

I dunno, because the truth is I've never seen an NAHL game. This came up before (in the context of major junior vs. ECHL), and what I said then is I don't think the junior team's half-dozen NHL or AHL prospects would make up for the fact that the next dozen are just younger, rawer, ECHL-or-lower bodies, often playing suspect defense. I also mentioned how players who come to our league from major junior, let alone Junior A or Tier II, always talk about how the CHL feels bigger/stronger, and that they have less time to make decisions.

And, judging by how violently our league's fans hate the vet rule, they'd rather have Travis Clayton for 10 years than Al Montoya for two.

But there's a big difference between the question of "could a major junior team beat a minor pro team" and "which is the more entertaining product?" As someone who spent part of 2000 enjoying the Nanaimo Clippers (check out their new ticket agent, btw) and someone who gets to watch a training camp in just eight days, I do believe a top-notch WHL or BCHL game gets the nod. Not just because you have a smattering of NHL or D1 prospects, but because, ironically, inexperienced players who can't play both ways or in a system make for a more freewheeling and explosive game.

I don't know -- meaning, I really don't know -that you can say the same about the NAHL. I do know that in the end this debate is as futile as the one about what constitutes "AA" hockey, and that even though the rink is there I don't buy Santa Fe as a spectator sport market.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Corpus Christi teenager Anthony Adrian tries to follow in the footsteps of Curtis Joseph (and Darrin MacKay).

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Rio Grande Valley Killer Cotton Kings have had a busy week: Kralj, Vezina and the Donskov Brothers (as predicted here in March, not that it took a genius to guess that).
New Wichita signing Scott Allison is actually the fourth highest NHL draft pick in league history as far as I'm concerned, since the WPHL is part of the same record book. I refer of course, to former Ice Bats owner/player/coach Paul Lawless.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Sad news for the Ice Bats family.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What are the odds that I'd type the words "Waco Wizards" twice in one day? One-time Wizards coach Tom Coolen is the new commissioner of the SPHL.
Topeka gets their goalie, and -- if something I heard a few weeks back was true -- they beat out another Northern Conference team to get him.
Former Waco Wizards offensive d-man ace Neal Martin "Blazes" Back to England. Maybe one of the other EIHL teams will counter with Craig Johnson.
This article about Jeremy's Roenick's trainer reads a lot differently in light of recent reports.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

What's the world coming to when an Ice Bats fan is campaigning to get one of his friends a job playing for the Bucks?

I don't really know what Corey Wogtech's pro potential is, especially compared to his other career. No wonder he's a goalie!

Friday, August 13, 2004

60 games seems kind of short? The SPHL is going with 56.
What, the Scorps couldn't find a vet spot for Walker McDonald? No quotes from him about how the ECHL is such a better league? With better coaching? (Ha!).

You can never underestimate the power of the wife's family in this business, that's for sure.

Chad Spurr gets his Norfolk tryout.

The ECHL giveth as it taketh away: Lubbock picks up Jeremy Kyte.

Former Brahmas/Ice Bats/Buzzards goalie Rob Laurie wants to give you money.

Greg Pankewicz is having a tough summer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Brent Belecki to the UHL, where a veteran goalie is still welcome.

Actually, it's not even clear that he's a vet (the UHL measures minutes rather than games). And if I were Brent I'd stay away from the ITC message board (unless that sort of thing gets your competitive juices flowing).
Hockey Gladiators is cancelled for now. How ironic that the event's original location, Minnnesota, is a place that used to be governed by a professional wrestler. Said governor even did away with the state boxing commision.

Personal to Larry Linde and Marc Solis: c'mon, book this sucker for the new arena!
Forget the Ice Bats -- I want a job covering Gerald Tallaire's new team in Villard de Lans, France!

And oh yeah, shortly after yesterday's entry the Bats' signing of Jeff Neufeld became official.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Guess the SJHL spilled the beans on a couple of potential Ice Bats signings. Shaun Aebig and Jeff Neufeld? (Thanks to Todd for the tip.)

Sunday, August 08, 2004

So there's a good chance Doug Shedden will be coaching in Toronto come 2005.
Former Eagle Diarmuid Kelly has joined the Belfast Giants.
Pat Hallett turns up on the Tulsa Hockey message board to say farewell (among other things).

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Five minutes for fighting? How 'bout 3 months in jail and a $2,000 fine?
Very nice feedback from the ITC crowd on the latest Ice Bats signing. In a nutshell, they say John McNabb is the real deal in every way -- good hands, goes to net, takes draws.
Mike Vellinga to Long Beach. I've heard like, 18 different times that Malcolm Cameron tried to recruit every member of Laredo's roster, but then, wouldn't you?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Derek Booth, SPHL head coach.
RoBlazer makes the case that Sauter's words were more or less innocuous. Hey, it's not like he called Joe Burton "Grandpa." Mostly, he's guilty of speaking off the cuff. And hasn't Brad Lund done enough to glorify the guy? He doesn't get one mulligan?

That said, I think what this "controversy" really shows is it was always about business, for everyone involved.

Wonder if the Blazers will try to patch this thing over with a bit of happy news. Hey, I know, why not announce that long-rumored sibling signing?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Dave MacIntyre belegt die dritte Auslanderstelle der Tigers
In the end, Randy Hevey had a better year than Haun, Conschafter, the Ice Bats and (emotionally speaking) the Mudbugs put together. Now he's in the ECHL.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Yeah, that Joe Burton, he just wasn't what he used to be his final season. You never know after a year off, but if I understand correctly, speed, strength and conditioning was never the guy's game, just hands, knowing where to be and knowing where to put the puck.

It's hard for me to talk about him because, the All-Star Game aside, I never got to see him have a standout night. I've also never personally witnessed an Oklahoma City Blazers' win, what with all the games I've seen them play coming against Austin (plus one at Odessa in December 2001).

And speaking of the 2003 All-Star Game, could Don Parsons still be right?
On the other hand, this does feel like much ado about nothing. It's perfectly understandable that the Blazers wouldn't just rubber-stamp Burton's return. Would he come back as the best-paid player on the team? Remember, the mechanisms that produced his hefty paycheck (be they legal "franchise player" rules or other things) just don't exist now. Plus the Blazers teams that I know -- post-merger, always losing to the Ice Bats -- have been defense-challenged in part because they overspent on offense (Hardy included, though I'm very much a fan).

And while it's certainly not Brad Lund's job to make decisions for the Burton family, it seems a fair assumption that they'd rather stay in Michigan. It wouldn't be enough for OKC to make Burton an offer; they'd have to blow him away. I don't blame them for not doing that.

Truth is, Smokin' will probably be a second-line UHL forward (with first-line power play time), and he'll make more than the $600 a week I'd pay him on my CHL team.

Now, if I'm Tulsa, I go higher than that just for the PR value. Also, it would look pretty silly if the CHL scoring trophy was named after a UHL player.

And Doug Sauter said something honest and undiplomatic? Shocking.
The Blazers don't want Joe Burton? Wasn't it just yesterday that Brad Lund begged Chris Stewart not to take him in the expansion draft, just because it wouldn't look good?

Then again, if Joe re-signed with the Blazers wouldn't he have to give the boat back?
Here's an idea to make up for the Cup Final fiasco -- send the Mudbugs to the White House to be honored by President Gore!
Just think, if the newest Ice Bat hadn't gone to college, he'd be fighting for a vet spot now.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Are you a fan with photos of your team? Check out the Hockey Photo Project.

Hey, whatever happened to Kolesar and MacIntyre? Think maybe I gave the C-Kings too much credit on the morning of the trade? My understanding is Mac's headed for Europe, and that the deal happened because both parties (Kolesar and Laxdal, Dashney and MacIntyre) wanted nothing to do with each other. By now, tempers must have cooled, so I guess ya never know.
See, you can get a job in Europe after playing for the Mudbugs. Craig Minard joins Dru Burgess, Jeff Glowa and Scott Wray in Hull (where they can look forward to facing Guildford's Jason Baird).

The BNL is a weird thing. It's lower-level U.K. hockey, but they obviously pay import players mighty well.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Mark Richards finally gets the job that, IMO, every coach at this level absolutely has to have.

It says here that new Ice Bat Benoit Genesse turned down an offer from the Fort Worth Fire. Good call.

Brian Pellerin leaves the CHL for Portland of the Western Hockey League. This blog just might follow in his footsteps.

Trouble for the IFL, which if I'm not mistaken stands for the Intense FriendsofBillyD League.

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