Monday, September 30, 2013

Training Camp Roster, Charity In CHL, Boomer Arrives, NHL Prospect

We are now one week away from the official start of training camp on October 7th. Players that don't live locally have started arriving. The number of players at the informal skate that takes place each day has increased. Having ice time available will allow players to get some on ice conditioning time prior to the start of camp. They will have their physicals, move into apartments and have some social activities to get acquainted and/or reacquainted with teammates.

The training camp roster is being compiled and should be available later in the week. The official roster from the Americans web site is below. There will be more guys at camp than are on this roster. There should be some names announced this week but there will be players at camp for which there is no formal announcement. There are also players on the list below that will not be at camp. The only way to figure it all out is be at camp next week which is open to the public. It starts at 10:00 am at the Allen Event Center. For those that don't live in North Texas or can't make it to the AEC there will be a full report on the blog Tuesday morning.


No. Name Pos. HT WT Shoots DOB Hometown Club 2012 2013
# 11 Phil Fox RW 5"11 205 R 9/17/85 Stillwater, MN Fort Worth Brahmas (CHL)
# 13 Alex Bourret RW 5'11 205 R 10/5/86 Drummondville, PQ Cornwall River Kings (LNAH)
# 17Ryley Grantham LW 6'4' 207 L 1/7/88 Hanna, ALTA Allen Americans (CHL)
# 18 Kale Kerbashian LW 5"11' 200 L 4/7/90 Thunder Bay, ONT Allen Americans (CHL)
# 19 Alex Lavoie C 5"10' 170 R 11/17/92 Anjou, PQ Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
# 25 Jim McKenzie RW 6"3 210 R 6/10/84 St. Paul, MN Allen Americans (CHL)
#27 Darryl Bootland  RW 6'2 200 R 11/2/81 Bradford, ONT  Allen Americans (CHL)
# 32 Jarret Lukin C 5"11 185 L 1/24/84 Fort McMurray, ALTA Allen Americans (CHL)
# 43 John Snowden RW 6"1 210 R 1/12/82 Everett, WA Fort Worth Brahmas (CHL)
# 91 Johnathan Lessard LW 6"0' 190 L 2/22/91 St-Eustache, PQ Utah Grizzlies (ECHL)
# 3 Tyler Ludwig  D 6'1  205 R 5/24/85  Rhinelander, WI  Allen Americans (CHL)
# 6 Mike Berube D 6"1 215 L 5/20/88 Edmonton, ALTA Allen Americans (CHL)
 # 7 Daniel Tetrault D 6"0 205 R 9/4/79 Labroquerie, MAN Peoria Rivermen (AHL)
# 24 Trevor Ludwig  D 6'1 210  L 5/24/85  Rhinelander, WI Allen Americans (CHL)
# 42 Ross Rouleau D 6"0 180 R 6/29/88 Hancock, MI Fort Worth Brahmas (CHL)
# 71 Trevor Hendrikx D 6'3 220 R 3/29/85 Russell, ONT Allen Americans (CHL)

- There has been much discussion about roster spots still available around the CHL and as the AHL and ECHL make training camp cuts good players will be available to fill these remaining spots. Another source of recruiting that you may see around the league is from players that are playing overseas. It is well known that playing overseas can be a difficult adjustment because of culture and language barriers, different ice surfaces and different style of play. Those players that have headed overseas for the first time have now played enough games and lived in this new environment to know if they want to continue. Some of these players will decide this isn't for them and head back to North America. It some cases the CHL or ECHL teams that they left just a few months ago will be more than willing to take them back.

- Most Allen fans remember very well the Missouri Mavericks top line last year, especially during the playoffs, even if they don't remember the names. Two rookies (Kenton Miller & Kellan Tochkin) playing with CHL veteran and perennial all star Sebastien Thinel did lots of damage as they combined for 91 goals and 138 assists during the season with Miller only playing in 53 regular season games and Tochkin 54. While Thinel will be back with the Mavericks the two rookies have moved on with Miller having signed with the ECHL Utah Grizzlies and Tochkin will be with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). What many CHL fans may not be aware of is that Kellan Tochkin was actually under a three year NHL entry level contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Tochkin was traded on Saturday by the Canucks to the Carolina Hurricanes. Here is part of an article written by Daniel Wagner who writes for the Vancouver Sun Sports Blog which talks about the Tochkin trade.

The Canucks sent 22-year-old Kellan Tochkin to the Carolina Hurricanes along with a 2014 fourth round pick for the 23-year-old Zac Dalpe and 25-year-old Jeremy Welsh and, in the process, increased their good ‘ol Ontario boys quotient. A surface-level reading of the trade marks this a win for the Canucks, who bring in two players with a combined 47 NHL games for two assets that are unlikely to ever play a single NHL game.

Back in 2009, the Canucks took a chance on the undrafted Kellan Tochkin, signing the 18-year-old to a three-year, entry-level contract. He finished fifth in scoring among 18-year-olds in the WHL in his draft year, right behind Evander Kane, Jordan Eberle, and Brayden Schenn. Tochkin was passed over in the draft because of his size; at 5’9″, he had low odds of making the NHL.
Tochkin grew up in Abbotsford, so when teams came calling with invites to their training camps, it was an easy decision to attend the Canucks camp and it paid off with a contract. Unfortunately, nothing else went as planned. His rookie year was the only season that Tochkin would top a point-per-game in the WHL, falling just short in each subsequent season.
Instead of playing with the Canucks’ AHL or ECHL affiliates upon graduating from junior hockey last year, the Canucks loaned Tochkin to the CHL’s Missouri Mavericks, which wasn’t a particularly good sign for his future with the Canucks organization. Further writing was added to what was already on the wall when he did not attend Canucks training camp this year, skating instead with his old junior team, the Everett Silvertips.
At this point, it looks like Tochkin’s ceiling is the AHL and, as he entered into the final year of his NHL contract, this was the last chance to get any value out of his signing.
As for the fourth round pick, Jason Gregor actually found that you have a higher chance of selecting a decent NHL player in the seventh round. Not that that’s saying much: about 3-7 players from the fourth round each year play more than 100 NHL games in their career. You essentially have an 8.6%
chance of getting a decent NHL player in the fourth round, meaning it has limited value.

- The Brampton Beast rolled out their mascot, "Boomer" over the weekend. Here is Boomer with Brampton Mayor, Susan Fennell.
Welcome To The CHL Beast Mascot - BOOMER

 - A good way to end today is by congratulating all of the CHL family for the many things they do for charity. There is a calendar that Erik Adams keeps in his office that is full of charitable events that the team sponsors through ticket donations, those that are recognized at Allen Americans games as well as those the team and front office participate in like The Walk To End Alzheimer's which took place this weekend where the front office, players, sponsors, dance team and fans raised money for a great cause. It is impressive how much time and money is dedicated to giving back to the community. If you follow all of the teams in the CHL on social media, message boards or through their web sites you know that they are all active in giving back to the community the way the Allen Americans do in North Texas. CONGRATS TO ALL!
Team Allen Americans at The Walk To End Alzheimer's

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Penner To The LNAH - The Toughest League In The World

So it is a slow day for news related to the Allen Americans. While doing some research on CHL players that went overseas for the first time this year I came across information that Alex Penner has just signed to play for Jonquiere Marquis of the LNAH. Having seen reference to the LNAH in the past, Penner's signing inspired me to do some research about the league. Here is what I found. Probably more information than you would ever want to know about a famous hockey league that very few of us know about.

 Alex Penner, who played 20 games with the Americans last season before getting suspended for the season for his part in the line brawl with the Fort Worth Brahmas has signed to play hockey in Quebec (LNAH).  I first heard about this league several years ago from Bill McDonald who told me it was known for fighting and there is no veteran rules so it was filled with lots of older NHL & AHL players. Many former Allen Americans have played or are currently playing in the LNAH which stands for Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey (North America Hockey League). Alexandre Vincent (2009-2010), Ian McPhee (2010-2011), Dominic D'Amour (2011-2012), Marco Cousineau (2011-2012), Jonathan Lessard (2013-2014) and Alex Bourret are just a few current and former Allen players that have or are playing in the LNAH. I decided to look for more information about this league and came across the article below from 2011 written by Jeff Klein and published in the New York Times. Thought you might enjoy reading about what many call the toughest league in the world. Penner should fit right in.

TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Quebec — In a dimly lighted corridor of the dingy, old arena, Donald Brashear, an N.H.L. enforcer for 16 years, said he was playing in the rough-and-tumble Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey because he still loved the game. And though this Quebec league is widely regarded as the world’s toughest, Brashear said he was not in it to fight, but “to play hockey the way I did when I started — making passes, scoring goals.”
Brashear, 39, the captain of 3L de Rivière-du-Loup, had indeed been playing it straight: he had 31 points in 27 games and a fairly reasonable 56 penalty minutes going into last Friday’s game here against Caron & Guay de Trois-Rivières. Sometimes, he said, things “get out of hand,” but that he had been in only one fight the entire season. “The guy just hung on to me for his life,” he said.
Three hours later, Brashear was not playing it straight at all. He was on the ice, slugging away, much as he did as one of the more feared players in the game for five N.H.L. teams, including the Rangers last season.
It started late in what turned into a 7-2 loss. The Trois-Rivières goalie slashed one of Brashear’s teammates, who was fighting someone else, in the back of the leg. Enter Brashear, who began pounding on the goalie with his gloved hands. Another Trois-Rivières player tried to restrain Brashear, but Brashear went after him as well, continuing to hit him after the player fell to the ice. Somewhere in there, he threw a gloved punch at a third player.
Brashear got free and went back after the goalie. Finally, a linesman tackled him. Then both benches emptied in a scene reminiscent of the “Slap Shot” era of the 1970s.
“It was just like I told you,” a calm Brashear said in the same corridor afterward, “things got out of hand.”
The semiprofessional L.N.A.H. is in its 15th season of bringing a measure of mayhem to small municipal rinks around Quebec, like the 73-year-old Colisée de Trois-Rivières, the locus of hockey for this city of 130,000.
The league averages 3.2 fights a game this season, compared with 0.6 fights in the N.H.L. Despite the wildness, the antique rinks and the modest skill level, the L.N.A.H. draws a surprising number of former N.H.L. players — about 100 over all, including almost 20 this season.
Jesse Bélanger, 41, is one of those players. Now in his fourth season with his hometown COOL-FM 103.5 de Saint-Georges, Bélanger played 246 games in the N.H.L. over nine seasons.
“This gives me the chance to keep playing hockey,” Bélanger said. “I was playing in Switzerland, but I thought it would be nice to come back here to finish my career.”
For most of the league’s players, hockey is no longer a career ambition. The vast majority of them earn $150 to $400 a game, and teams operate under a salary cap of $6,300 to $6,800 a game. Brashear is one of only a handful of players who do not have a primary job outside the rink. Players tend to be teachers, sales representatives, laborers or students working toward university degrees.
“We have one or two practices a week, and one or two games per week,” said Bobby Baril, coach of Isothermic de Thetford Mines. “For our players, we are not the first priority — we have to work with their families and their jobs.”
Trying to strike a balance can be a challenge. Luc Bélanger — no relation to Jesse — is a high school physical education and English teacher before he turns his attention to protecting the goal for Thetford Mines.
“To be honest, it’s pretty tough to do this,” Bélanger said. “To spend the day at school with kids is a tough job, then drive an hour and a half to come to the game, get ready, play, then go back home, where I have two kids. And sometimes, go back to work the next morning.”
A recent rule stipulates that L.N.A.H. players must be from Quebec or have played junior hockey there, helping make the league a comfortable place for many locals.
“This is a good league for Quebec kids,” said Steve Larouche, a former N.H.L. player who now skates for Trois-Rivières. A number of players cited the ease of being able to conduct their hockey lives almost exclusively in French.
But the rule was passed more to cut down on expenses than to promote Quebec’s heritage. In the past, clubs would employ tough guys from the United States and elsewhere in Canada — players like the Syosset, N.Y., native Neil Posillico or the former N.H.L. enforcer Link Gaetz. (Gaetz was once suspended from the L.N.A.H. for leaving the bench to go to a concession stand for a hamburger.)
With enforcers no longer being flown in, the violence has abated to a certain degree, but it has not quite changed the L.N.A.H.’s reputation as a garage league, a term Quebecers use disparagingly to refer to a league full of hacks and fighters.
“The league has changed — it isn’t half as tough as it used to be,” said Thetford Mines’ Joel Thériault, an 11-year veteran who has amassed 2,840 penalty minutes in 282 games. “When I played in Verdun, we had a team rule never to give less than five fights a night.”
He also mentioned the Laval Chiefs, a defunct team that wore the same uniform as the team in “Slap Shot” and whose players would tell reporters of fights they planned to have in the next night’s game.
“A few years ago, I watched the playoffs and said, ‘I’ll never play in this league,’ ” said Larouche, 39, who played for Ottawa, the Rangers and Los Angeles in the 1990s. “A lot of checking from behind and guys trying to take the head off the best players. It was ridiculous. But the league got better, and now I’ve been here three years.”
He added, “Of course, if our team played in the N.H.L. or A.H.L., there’d be 20 power plays against us every night.”
The fists may not fly quite as often these days, but the league is still as gritty as any, if not more so. That quality was on display last Thursday, 90 miles to the southeast, where Thetford Mines hosted Saint-Georges.
“It’s a happening for the community,” said Jean-Pierre Lessard, the owner of Isothermic de Thetford Mines, as a crowd of roughly 1,000 filed into the 2,500-seat Centre Mario Gosselin.
Thetford Mines, population 25,000, is home to one of the world’s largest open-pit asbestos mines and is surrounded by mountains of tailings. Until 2009, the city spread asbestos slag on icy roads the way other cities used rock salt, and rates of illness from exposure are high.
There were only two all-out fights as Thetford Mines lost to Saint-Georges, 5-3, a result that gave Saint-Georges the regular-season championship.
But some old-time hockey was also on view. Thériault came charging across the ice long after the whistle in an unsuccessful attempt to board the league’s leading scorer, and, on separate occasions, Baril tossed a broken stick and a glove on the ice.
The next night, Trois-Rivières Coach Dean Lygitsakos was complaining about Brashear’s antics.
“He plays like an old-timer who decides suddenly to turn into a circus beast,” said Lygitsakos, who has led a movement to tone down the violence but still carries on his roster Tommy Bolduc, a 30-year-old career minor leaguer who going into Friday had no goals, no assists and 206 penalty minutes.
“To strike a goalie and repeatedly punch a defenseless player, that’s not toughness, that’s gratuitous violence,” Lygitsakos added. “It’s disgusting.”
Brashear had his own view.
“I told the players on the ice, don’t mess with me, because if you do, I won’t warn you, I’ll just start swinging,” he said.
Had Brashear had enough of the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey?
“I don’t know, I have an offer to play with the Montreal Canadiens Old-Timers — it’s a good salary there, and there’s no hitting,” he said.
“But here there’s the competition,” he continued. “The game starts, and I fall right back into it.”

 Here is the description of the league from Wikipedia:

The Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (North American Hockey League) (LNAH) was founded in 2004 and is a low-level professional league based in the Canadian province of Quebec. It was called the Quebec Semi-Pro Hockey League (QSPHL) from 1996 until it turned pro in 2004. It has no connection with the similarly named North American Hockey League, an American junior league for players under twenty. Teams in the LNAH compete for the Futura Cup, which has been awarded annually since 1997.
Unlike higher-level professional leagues, such as the American Hockey League or the ECHL, the LNAH is not known for its skill level. Its teams employ many enforcers and has a rather infamous reputation for on-ice antics that mostly include fisticuffs.
Despite its reputation as the world's toughest hockey league, many of the players are ex-NHL or ex-AHL players; Patrick Côté, Michel Picard, Stéphane Richer, Bobby Dollas, Guillaume Lefebvre, Garrett Burnett, Daniel Shank, François Leroux, Jeremy Stevenson, Éric Fichaud, Mario Roberge, David Gosselin, Michel Ouellet, Jesse Bélanger, Donald Brashear and Yves Racine. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, some NHL players played the entire season in the league, such as Sylvain Blouin, Donald Brashear, Sébastien Caron, Mathieu Biron, Marc-André Bergeron and Sébastien Charpentier. The league has a rule that stipulates that all players must either have come from Quebec, or played junior hockey in Quebec.
Another unique aspect, compared to other minor pro leagues of North America, is the absence of a veteran limit rule, which allows teams to stock up on experienced players. The league is slowly trying to clean itself up (for 2005–06, the roster limit went from 20 to 19 players, which for most teams meant one less enforcer), but this is no easy task for a league that has always been popular with the fans for its reputation of being the toughest league in the world.
The LNAH Draft is held during the summer, including 15 rounds. Players too old for junior ice hockey may be drafted even if they were already drafted by an NHL team. Drafted players come from many leagues, including the Canadian Hockey League, American Hockey League, lower-level professional leagues, and the Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

And finally and article written last year by Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette:

On a crisp November night, the wind is whipping off the St. Lawrence and buffeting fans as they walk from the parking lot to the comfort of the Ed Lumley Arena.
The city's hockey heritage is reflected in murals honouring local heroes. There's Canadiens legend Newsy Lalonde, Doug Gilmour and Hall of Famer Dale Haw-erchuk, who led the Cornwall Royals to back-to-back Memorial Cup wins. But the attraction tonight is a game between the Cornwall River Kings and Jonquière Marquis in the Ligue Nord Américaine de Hockey.
The first thing you notice is that this is not your father's LNAH. The last time the National Hockey League was locked out, the LNAH was known for brawls that were straight out of the WWE playbook.

Noted hockey fighters like Link Gaetz and Frankie (The Animal) Bialowas shared top billing with goons who had trouble skating. Steve Bossé, who played for the defunct Verdun Dragons, used hockey as the launching pad for a career in mixed martial arts.
Donald Brashear, a true heavyweight who played for Quebec Radio-X, refused to take part in the charade and, after a relatively tame contest at the Bell Centre, a Verdun team official unleashed an obscene, racist verbal attack on Brashear for not "putting on a show."
There are now seven teams in the LNAH, including Trois-Rivières, Rivière-du-Loup, St-Georges, Thetford and Sorel-Tracy.
"The league has been cleaned up," said Patrick Lacelle, who serves as the River Kings' governor, chief scout and public relations point man. "We still have brawls, but not like before."
There are two fights on this evening and the main event pits Cornwall's Francis Les-sard against Martin Grenier. They have heavyweight credentials. Lessard once racked up 416 penalty minutes in the American Hockey League, while Grenier had 479 while playing for the Quebec Rem-parts.
But both players have had a taste of the NHL - Lessard was with the Ottawa Senators as recently as two years ago - and both played a regular shift.
"The tough guys can play," said Cornwall's Yves Sarault, whose NHL credentials include a stint with the Cana-diens in the mid-1990s. "The hockey is pretty good, and with the lockout this year everybody gets pushed down and that makes this league better."
Each team in the LNAH has a handful of players who have enjoyed at least a cup of coffee in the NHL. There are former first-round draft picks and players whose careers are defined by the places they've been.
Sarault, who turns 40 this month, has played for 29 different teams in five countries. His résumé is highlighted by 106 NHL games, including 22 with the Canadiens in the tumultuous time after their last Stanley Cup win in 1993.
"I was there before the Patrick Roy fiasco," Sarault recalled. "I was a young guy and I didn't know what they expected of me. I was chasing around and hitting everybody. Looking back, I could have done better than that."
Sarault, who grew up in Valleyfield, says he retired about three years after the better part of a decade playing in Europe. He coached one year in Moncton, and when he isn't playing for the River Kings he works with the hockey program at a local high school that his son attends.

"I still enjoy playing and it helps that transition where you're done playing but you get used to a certain lifestyle," Sarault said. "Obviously, when you start out, you want to achieve a little. I was hoping to stick longer in the NHL, but I tell my kids I did everything I could on and off the ice. I disciplined myself to give me the best chance I had."
Sarault was a forward in the NHL, but today he patrols the blue line for the River Kings while serving as a leader on the ice.
He gets a goal and two assists against Jonquière and is the game's second star.
The first star on this night is a towering defenceman named Sacha Pokulok. The 25-year-old from Vaudreuil scores two goals, including one on a wraparound, and adds two assists in the 5-4 victory.
His dominant performance isn't a surprise because Pokulok is a thoroughbred who was once destined for an NHL career.
The 6-foot-5, 229-pounder played at Notre Dame College in Saskatchewan and then headed to Cornell University. He was named to the ECAC All-Rookie team in 2005, and the Washington Capitals selected him with the 14th overall pick at the NHL entry draft later that year. Pokulok had an outstanding sophomore year as Ryan O'Byrne's defence partner at Cornell and both of them left school in 2006 to pursue professional careers.
Pokulok had a strong training camp, but the Capitals sent him to their American Hockey League farm club in Hershey, Pa., for seasoning. His NHL dreams ended in his first pro game.
"I got a concussion and I missed five months," Pokulok said. "It was a clean hit, but I had my head down. I kinda learned from that. I came back too quick and got another concussion, and I've had a bunch more, and I went downhill from there."
Pokulok said he's aware of the potential danger of further concussions, but says he has learned to avoid trouble by trying "to use my body a bit more and keep my head up."
Pokulok spent several years bouncing between the AHL and the East Coast Hockey League before heading to Europe. He played one year in Germany and one year with the Zagreb team in the Austrian League. While Pokulok took advantage of the experience to see Europe, the hockey was a different matter.
"Things weren't going as well as I planned and I felt it was time to turn a page in my life and start something new, start real life," he said. "I saw the opportunity to play here and it was great. You get the opportunity to play hockey on weekends.
"I have a job, but I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life," Pokulok said.
"I have a bunch of options. Going from pro hockey to real life is difficult. With hockey, you practice and come home at noon and you have nothing to do. For me, it's a change of routine. Now, it's working 8-5."
Pokulok is philosophical when asked whether he has any regrets about his hockey career.
"I don't think about the past," he said. "It was disappointing, but if I dwell on it, I'm going to be miserable for the rest of my life."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Schaafsma Update, Snowden HOF, Team Store Details, CHL Dates

Jamie Schaafsma Played For The Netherlands National Team
Welcome Back Jamie Schaafsma!!
After a long wait the official announcement was finally made yesterday on the return of Jamie Schaafsma for a second year with the Allen Americans.

Besides the talent he brings to the team he is also a good luck charm. Jamie has been in the championship finals for the last five years with four different teams. Let's hope that streak continues. If you have never read the in depth interview or to refresh your memory take a look at his story in the blog archives. The title is "Jamie Schaafsma - Player Profile" and the date is January 4, 2013. It is a good read. Here are just a few highlights:

- Jamie is from a small agricultural community in Ontario (Blenheim)
- He is married (Nicole) and they have two children (Sawyer & Sutter)
-  In the summer he works part time at a group home for 13-17 years old kids who can't find a foster home and are in the custody of the province
- he owns and loves his motorcycle
- Jamie played in the World Cup four times as a member of The Netherlands national team
- He scored the most goals in the 2008-2009 World Cup Tournament 
- His career with the National team and as a pro has taken him to Amsterdam, Germany, Italy, China, Austria, Estonia, and Poland to name a few.

The headline in his hometown newspaper announcing his return to Allen was, "Schaafsma Proud To Be An American" and the Americans are proud to have him back.

-  Congratulations to John Snowden who was inducted into the Lincoln Stars Hall of Fame last night. John played three years (2000-2003) for the Lincoln Stars which is a tier one junior team (Lincoln, Nebraska) in the USHL. Every few years the Stars use opening night as a chance to induct a new group of players into the Lincoln Stars Hall of Fame and that was the case last night. The inductees are not revealed until a highlight video is shown before the game. John is the all time leader in goals (79) and second in points (143) for the Stars. Congrats!!

- As camp gets ready to open it might be a good reminder to look at the key dates set by the CHL for the upcoming season.

Oct. 7: Training Camps Open
Oct. 10: Pre-Season Schedule Begins
Oct. 17: Season-Opening Rosters Due (3:00 PM CST)
Oct. 18: Regular-Season Schedule Begins
Dec. 23-25: Holiday Trade Freeze
Jan. 13-16: CHL Mid-Season Break
Feb. 3: Trade Deadline (3:00 PM CST)
Feb. 10: European Signing Deadline (3:00 PM CST)
Feb. 28-March 2: Hockey Weekend Across America 
Mar. 30: Regular-Season Schedule Ends

With October 17th being the date season opening rosters have to be turned into the league there will be roster changes right up until that date. Something to keep in mind is there will be good players available as the AHL makes their training camp cuts. There are also good players cut from ECHL camps each year that could be added to the Americans roster. Since most ECHL teams have an official affiliation with AHL teams they often have to take contracted players from their AHL affiliates and release non contracted players that are better players. This is why it could be difficult for players such as Aaron Dell (Utah) and Anthony Maiani (Kalamazoo) and Garrett Clarke (Toledo) even if they are good enough to make the team as they may get displaced by AHL contracted players. You can assume Steve Martinson will be very patient with the last few roster spots as he watches how the AHL & ECHL camps play out.

- In the post from yesterday there was a comment about walking by the Team Store and seeing there was something going on. In chlforums yesterday the following was posted about the Team Store. I contacted the poster and he confirmed that the store is under new management and he is part of the new management team. Here is what was posted on chlforums:

Cleaning out the obsolete stuff - adding hanging space and starting to bring in new product. More checkout capability and a nice product kiosk area by section 115/116 You will see a larger selection and product refreshes throughout the season. More big size XXL XXXL stuff, Women's products, spirit gear like scarves, spirit finger gloves and krazy kolder (google it) that fits any size. Make sure to get the 2013 playoff trading cards for the kids only 1000 available. Starting a trading pin collection which the kiddos should like too. If you don't see it just ask and we will see if we can get it. Hopefully we will be able to open with some inventory by season ticket-holder pickup day and much more coming in the week before the opening puck drop. Stay tuned and get ready to gear up for another great season.

-  Several of you have contacted me about some information that was on social media for a short time yesterday ( I retweeted it) concerning an as yet unannounced player for the upcoming season. If you recall, in the interview with Steve Martinson, he mentioned a twenty one year old, 6' 4' forward, that had been signed. My agreement with the Americans is I will not post on my blog the names of any players until the name is made public. Most of the time it is made public by the Americans, however, in this day and age of social media, sometimes the word gets out through family, friends or the players themselves. In this case the player put something out on social media but soon there after deleted it. So while many of you know the name I will refrain from using it and providing details until it has been made public by the Americans or the player. Hope that answers the question.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bourret Changes His Mind, Brampton Challenges, AEC Observations

- If you haven't had a chance to check out the interview Tommy Daniels recorded with Allen defenseman and former Fort Worth captain, Ross Rouleau check it out. You can find it at This is a great interview and  hope Tommy does many of these "podbean" interviews during the season.

- Stopped by the Allen Event Center yesterday and you can tell hockey is getting closer. The boards and glass are in the rink and the ice will go in in the next few days. Had heard last year that new glass would be installed this year but from what I could see this has not happened. Something is happening with the Americans Team Store as it was all tore up. The number of players skating in the community rink is increasing (Ross Rouleau has joined the group) and several players are on the road making the long drive from their homes to Texas. Those flying in will be here next week.

- No official word from the Americans but have heard from several reliable sources with first hand knowledge that Alex Bourret has made the decision to not join the Americans this year. He has decided to stay at home. He could always change his mind between now and when camp starts on October 7th but that is not expected. This is a tough loss for Allen as Bourret would have been one of the best players in the CHL.

- David Strathman, who spent his rookie season with the Americans (2010-2011) and was selected to the All Star team and the CHL all rookie team has signed to play for the St. Charles Chill this season.

- I came across the article below written by Morgan Campbell of that does an excellent job of laying out the challenges facing the Brampton Beast in the quest to establish a successful CHL franchise in Canada. Cary Kaplan is well known in the marketing field and has been to Dallas to talk hockey marketing as some of the Americans staff have attended his presentation. Appears to be some long odds but don't underestimate Kaplan, majority owner Gregg Rosen and the Brampton Beast.

BRAMPTON — Where others saw empty seats, Cary Kaplan and Gregg Rosen eyed an opportunity.
After four seasons drawing the smallest average crowds in the Ontario Hockey League, the Brampton Battalion announced last November they were moving to North Bay, prompting Kaplan and Rosen to swoop in and secure a 10-year lease on Brampton's Powerade Centre before they had even found a team to play there.
By January, the pair had acquired an expansion franchise in the U.S.-based Central Hockey League and next month the Brampton Beast will begin play in a minor pro circuit that has seen 33 teams fold or change leagues since its inception in 1992.
While financial success in Brampton isn't assured, Kaplan, president of the marketing firm Cosmos Sports, and Rosen, president of Kimco Steel, don't see it as a gamble. They're set to spend $3 million a year running the club, which is affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And they aren't just confident they'll turn a profit this season.
They're convinced.
And defiant.
"Our goal is to sell out every game," says Kaplan, former president of the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs.
"People don't believe it. A lot of people don't think this team is going to make it."
With reason.
Home to nearly 1.3 million residents, the fast-growing Peel region has the population to fill several arenas.
It just hasn't shown the desire.
Last season the average OHL game attracted 4,021 spectators, but Brampton recorded the league's worst attendance (2,191 per game) despite qualifying for the playoffs. And the OHL's second-weakest attendance figures belonged to the neighbouring Mississauga Steelheads (2,337).
The previous season the league's two Peel-based teams were again its worst performers at the gate, with Brampton drawing fewer than 2,000 spectators a game.
"Minor league sports teams typically are an expense item for their major league counterpart," says University of Ottawa sports business professor Norm O'Reilly. "The Marlies, even with MLSE and all the fanfare, still haven't been a huge success from most metrics. It's not the big show and Toronto has a very limited interest in second-tier events."
But Rosen, the team's majority owner, says other owners of local non-NHL clubs haven't figured out how to sell their teams to local consumers. "It's all about marketing and creating a buzz on a limited product," says Rosen, one-time owner of the Kingston Voyageurs hockey team. "What's the difference between Lululemon and Title Nine? Nothing, but Lululemon's making millions and Title Nine is barely making a living. The difference? How they market their product."
North Bay Battalion owner Scott Abbott says packaging the product is the Beast's biggest problem.
The Battalion struggled to retain fans in Brampton even while playing in a league full of future NHL stars. He says marketing minor league lifers to a population already indifferent to hockey will be even tougher.
"The Battalion was in the schools and in the corporate community," says Abbott, who reports strong ticket sales in North Bay. "There just was no traction, and I'm not sure a Central Hockey League team is going to get that kind of traction."
The Beast has no radio deal, and the OHL's deal with Rogers means the team won't appear on local cable television, but for $50 fans can watch all the Beast's games in the 10-team league online.
For the length of their lease — which could last 15 years if the club picks up a five-year option — the Beast will own signage rights at the 5,000-seat Powerade Centre. The value of those rights will rise if fans pack the building, and Rosen says Brampton and surrounding areas are too populous not to provide plenty of sellouts.
"There are more than 500,000 people just in Brampton," Rosen says.
"Take the surrounding area and I'm into the millions of people. All I need is 5,000 of them to say ‘I want to be entertained.' Hockey is entertainment."
To connect with potential fans, Kaplan says the club has hired 20 marketing staff, significantly more than most CHL and OHL teams, and they're working to fill the building through group sales.
One promotion at a Brampton sports bar features a Beast Burger — a giant patty topped with peameal bacon and onion rings and served on a loaf of bread emblazoned with the team's logo. Finish the 40-ounce burger within 40 minutes and it's free. Fail and you pay $40.
"You don't have to be prepared to lose money," Kaplan says. "You have to be prepared to spend on sales and marketing. ‘Build it and they will come' is a ridiculously overrated concept. You gotta build it and work, work, work."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

20 Questions With Jonathan Lessard - An Introduction

In the run up to the new season I have been trying to catch up with as many new players as possible to ask them about life and hockey in a series called "20 Questions" and here is the latest with Jonathan Lessard. If you read the interview yesterday with Coach Steve Martinson it is clear there are high expectations for Jonathan. Martinson said, "Jonathan can score 20 goals for us this year and he will be nasty to play against." Jonathan had 37 goals one year playing in the QMJHL as a junior. Described as fast and physical he fits right into the type of player the Allen Americans are looking for.

Jonathan Lessard
Right Wing - Shoots Left
Birthdate - Februrary 22, 1991
Hometown - Saint- Eustache,  Quebec
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 190

Favorite Number - 91 as it is my birth year and yes I will be wearing #91 with the Americans.

Nickname: Less

Age You Started Skating: Three

Hockey Hero: Sidney Crosby

Best Hockey Memory: Two years ago when I scored the tying goal and the overtime winning goal to win the first round of the playoffs.

Favorite Actor: Jason Statham

Favorite Type Of Music: Rap and house music

Favorite Singer: Lil Wayne

If you Could Live Anywhere In The World for Two Years Where Would You Live: Switzerland

If You Could Be Anything Besides A Pro Athlete What Would It Be: Policeman (SWAT Officer)

Superstitions or Pregame Rituals: Always tie my left skate first

What Do You Like To Do On The Bus: Listen to music and play cards

Favorite TV Show: Prison Break

Who Would you Choose As A Mentor: My father

How Would you Describe Your Style Of Play: I play a fast and physical game and I really like to shoot the puck

Do You Know Any Other Players On The Team: I train with Alex Lavoie in the summer.

What Do You Like To Do Away From The Rink: Play golf

When Will You Arrive In Allen: October 2nd

Have You Ever Been To Texas: No

In talking to Jonathan he certainly sounds excited to be coming to Allen. He has been working very hard to be in great shape when he arrives for camp. His approach to training camp is nobody is guaranteed a spot on the team. You have to come to camp and earn it. Thanks to Jonathan for taking the time to answer my questions. Based on his style of play and his picture above he is going to be a  very popular guy at the Allen Event Center this year.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Steve Martinson Talks Championship, Upcoming Season, CHL, Coaching & Family

Allen Coach Steve Martinson - photo by

 If you ever spend one on one time with Allen Americans head coach, Steve Martinson, a few things become obvious very quickly. He is very comfortable in his own skin, hockey has been a big part of his life since childhood, and his family is very important to him. He loves to talk hockey, he has developed a system and style of play that is successful and he knows what works and doesn't work. He is not about to change and you can't argue with his success as he has won seven championships in his seventeen year coaching career. He has missed the playoffs only one time (2011-2012) and he has never lost a game seven in a playoff series.

Steve grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota which is a suburb of Minneapolis and was a rink rat from when he was a little kid. His earliest hockey memories are walking a half mile from his house to the outdoor rink and playing hockey. He also played hockey on local ponds and more than once went through the ice early in the year. Unlike today, back then there were no parents, no supervision and no car to take you home. According to Steve the toughest part of getting soaked was having to walk home as you would be frozen from head to toe by the time you got there.

Steve attended college and played hockey at St. Cloud State which at the time was a Division II school about 90 miles north of Minneapolis. He had a fourteen year pro career in which he  played for fourteen different teams including 49 NHL games (Montreal-38, Detroit-10 & Minnesota-1). He met his wife, Michelle, while playing for the Hershey Bears (AHL) from 1985-1987. Steve and Michelle have two children, Logan is 13 and Lily is 10. Michelle's grandfather (Frank Mathers) was the President and General Manager of the Hershey Bears. Frank Mathers is a legend in AHL hockey history and Steve learned a lot about hockey and life from him. When I asked Steve about leadership he indicated Frank Mathers was a great leader and a mentor to him. For those of you not aware of Frank Mathers, he is often referred to as the Scotty Bowman of the American Hockey League. Here is his biography from "Legends Of The Game."  

During more than four decades as a player, coach and executive, Frank Mathers helped shape and strengthen the American Hockey League (AHL). His talents were well known and many NHL teams wanted to hire Mathers. He was staunchly loyal to the Hershey Bears and remained content working with the passionate fans of the AHL.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mathers was a gifted athlete who played both professional football and hockey. After spending three years with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the late 1940s and early 1950s, Mathers began a long and rewarding relationship with the Hershey Bears. As a player, coach, general manager and president, Mathers did every possible job that went with running a hockey team.
On the ice Mathers became one of the AHL's all-time great defencemen, being voted to the all-star team on five consecutive occasions during the late 1950s. After he took on the dual role of player/coach the team won three Calder Cups. His greatest asset was remaining calm but still pushing players to reach their potential individually or as a team. He retired as a player in 1962 and turned his full attention to coaching. When he left the game, Mathers stood as the all-time assist and point-scoring leader among AHL defencemen.
Mathers was named president and general manager of the Bears in 1973. He continued to uphold the club's position as one of the league's elite operations. They won three more Calder Cups with Mathers in this executive role. After 43 years, Mathers retired from the game after the 1990-91 season. He was given his own special night in Hershey as the community came out to thank one of their greatest adopted sons. Mathers was presented the Lester Patrick trophy for his life long dedication to hockey in the United States. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992. Frank Mathers passed away in 2005.

An indication that Steve had learned a lot about what it takes to be a successful hockey coach while playing is the fact that he won the championship his first year as a head coach in 1996 (San Diego Gulls - WCHL).

Martinson has 33 years as a professional player and coach

 One of the things you learn in knowing Steve Martinson is you don't really interview him, you have a conversation with him. Honest as the day is long, willing to share his opinions and full of confidence he often answers four different questions when you ask him one. We covered a wide range of topics so thought it would be best to put his comments in categories and came up with the championship, the upcoming season, coaching philosophy,  the CHL, and family.


- When you win a championship it makes for a better summer because it makes for easier recruiting.

- There are so many ups and downs in the season like last year when we had guys called up and also had some injuries. We went through that tough period but I never lost confidence in what we were doing. I never lost faith in my approach, so to see us end up with the championship was very satisfying.

- The championship was satisfying for me personally because it came the year after missing the playoffs in Chicago. Missing the playoffs had never happened to me before. Even though that Chicago team lost seven players to the AHL and had seven season ending injuries and unbeknownst to me the team was folding it was tough missing the playoffs. To win the championship the year after missing the playoffs for the first time was big for me.

-  Our style of play proved to be the difference in the seven game series we had in the second round and the finals. We were the most physical team and when you finish your checks it is going to eventually payoff.


- I am trying to avoid the sure loss guys like Skinner and Howes for this season. I like to tell the young guys you can develop this year, we will try and loan you (AHL) for 5-10 games and then you can try and move up next year.

- The style of play this year will be the same as last year as it is always the same. The advantage of coaching in the CHL versus the NHL is the players are not on multi year contracts so they know if they want to play in Allen this is the style they are expected to play.

- There are no questions on defense. We have six experienced, established defensemen. We are looking for a seventh defenseman after Garret Clarke unexpectedly left for the ECHL (Toledo). It was disappointing that Garrett chose to leave but we have plenty of guys that want to play in Allen so we will have no problem filling that spot.

- We have three players at AHL camps with Alex Lavoie and Kale Kerbashian with the Oklahoma City Barons and Ryley Grantham at the Iowa Wild camp.

- We will not have an official affiliation with Oklahoma City but we will work with them to loan players. Oklahoma City has an affiliation with Bakersfield (ECHL) which is a long way to travel. I am good friends with the general manager in Bakersfield so we will work together. Being so close to Oklahoma City we will have plenty of opportunities to loan our younger players.  There may be an affiliation with the Stars but I do not see us loaning many players to them.

- We are still talking to a player from last year and his signing will add to our scoring. It is always more difficult to make the money work when players wait to sign contracts.

-  We should be in good shape scoring wise. Phil Fox and John Snowden scored more goals on a per game basis than anyone on our team last year other than Howes. Having Kerbashian for the full season should produce more goals for us. Alex Lavoie will be a great playmaker and scorer. Jonathan Lessard could be a 20 goals scorer this year and be a nasty guy to play against. Lukin and Bootland will get their usual 20 goals. We have a 21 year old left wing signed who is 6' 4" that has the potential to score 20 goals and will be tough to play against. On paper and just looking at our team heading to training camp I feel better this year than I did last year from a goal scoring perspective.

- We will have a locker room full of guys who will finish their checks, stick up for their teammates and fight when necessary. We will have a pack of wolves rather than one lion.

- It is not public yet but we have resolved the veteran issue so we will not have an extra veteran in camp.

- Our goalie situation is good with Pitton and Fogal. I have heard good things about both of them.

- Naming a captain is something we will consider as training camp takes place. My philosophy is with one year contracts each year stands by itself and you don't need long term captains like you have in the NHL. The captain doesn't have the same role in the CHL as in the NHL. We will see how it works itself out.

-  Both our equipment manager (Kacee Coberly) and trainer (Osama Kassab) are an important component of the team. Attracting good candidates for these jobs is similar to recruiting players. Allen is a great place to live and we work hard to get the guys promoted like happened recently to Jason Wallace. We want our guys to move up and that will happen for Kacee & Osama. Kacee just went with the Stars on their trip to St. Louis over the weekend. He will definitely be moving up. I don't know when but it will happen.

- We are going to have a real fun team this year. We have a team that is fast and physical with a lot of skill. We have good size, and a very experienced defense. The fun thing about camp is seeing the chemistry that develops between players and figuring out line and defense combinations.


- To me it is common sense that the ECHL got rid of the reciprocal agreement with the CHL because they want to take CHL players. For many teams in the CHL this can really hurt but it is a two way street and for a team like Allen which is a great place to play and we have a reputation for loaning players it is actually a good thing because players on the bottom of the ECHL standings will want to come to Allen. For the league as a whole a reciprocal agreement would be a good thing but for Allen it works to our advantage not having the agreement.

- I see the CHL as more of an entertainment league than a development league. For the CHL to say they want to be primarily a development league doesn't make sense as the ECHL is seen by players and agents as the place to be to get to the AHL. The rules in the ECHL also makes for it being more of a development league.

- The thing the CHL should do is to establish itself as an entertainment league and protect itself from the ECHL by changing the veteran rules to a higher number of games and maybe even lower the number of veterans a team can have. This way you can have the best vets and they can be your stars.

- There should be more parity in the league this year than in the past. Brampton has the advantage of being able to recruit players that can stay at home but the disadvantage of a tough travel schedule. Tulsa should be much improved because of the new ownership and the willingness to spend more money. Missouri and Wichita have good looking rosters. Every team has advantages and disadvantages. I'm not going to complain about other teams advantages because we have our own advantages.


- I have moved my family to Texas this year so it makes things so much better for me personally. We are in a nice house, the kids are playing hockey in the Allen Americans youth hockey program so I can be involved. I am an assistant coach on Lily's team and go to Logan's practices when I can. Since we live so close to the rink we can come down after school and skate so it is a big bonus to get extra ice time.

- My time away from the rink is spent with my family. Our home in Illinois is on a channel next to a river. There is an 8 acre island that creates the channel. We call the place Camp Martinson as we have a 24' x 36' sports court, ATV's, a boat to wakeboard and go tubing. In the winter I take out the boat dock and the channel becomes a 120' x 60' hockey rink. We have a gym in the home where I can work out with my wife. I love boating as it is something you can do with your family for ever. I brought my boat to Texas and we just spent some time on Lake Ray Hubbard. Our friends are parents of the kids Lilly and Logan play hockey with.


- On the first day of camp I will tell the players what I am looking for from each of them. I say it often and it is straightforward. What is important to me is having players that work hard, are in great shape, follow the system, be a team guy, and finish checks. If you don't do all of these things you can't be a leader.

- We want to make sure right away they understand the type of team we are going to be. That is one that competes hard, is physical and difficult to play against. While this is more verbal in training camp as you can't practice hitting it will be clear to everyone the expectations. I would rather have a player that hits hard and is a so so fighter than a player that can fight but doesn't hit hard.

- Sports to me is somewhat like the military. Many times you have to do things you don't like to do because it is for the good of the team. People that have to make tough decisions need to do it without letting personal feelings get in the way. That is what I try to do.

- What you did last year gets your foot in the door and maybe some positive perceptions but what happens this year is based on what you do this year. You have to earn your ice time. Brian McMillin last year was a good example as at the beginning of the year he was mostly a defensive player playing against the other teams top line but he worked hard and earned more ice time and look how it payed off in the playoffs.

- I always say don't mistake me for being friendly because I am not your friend. My job isn't to make players or fans happy. My job is to win games. I have gotten rid of the most popular players in order to help the team win. It is difficult making decisions to trade or cut players as it can have a great impact on their lives but my goal is to win games and do what is best for the team.

- You don't have to treat everyone the same but you have to be fair.


- Favorite Player Growing Up: Terry O'Reilly and Bobby Nystrom

- Favorite Motto or Saying: You can't expect to be the best if you don't work the hardest.

- Earliest Hockey Memory: Having fun at the rink. They would flood the outdoor rinks in Minnesota  the middle of December and flood them each day. I'd come home from school and head to the rink which was a half mile from home. I'd come home for dinner and then head right back to the rink.

- What Do You Do On The Bus: I spend most of my time on the bus dealing with hockey issues and looking at tape but I will watch  movies as well.

- Favorite TV Shows: The Bridge & Game of Thrones

- If You Could Have Lunch With Anyone Who Would It Be. Scotty Bowman 

After spending some time with Steve Martinson and Richard Matvichuk you can be confident we are going to have another great season in Allen. Repeating as champions will be very difficult as it has only been done twice in the history if the league and the last time was ten years ago (Mississippi River Kings). They are happy with the team they have assembled and even though there will be setbacks, trials and tribulations as there always is in minor pro hockey our chances are excellent. We have great ownership, great coaches, a great community to live and play in and an ever expanding fan base. We have been spoiled the first four years of existence having finished first or second in the standings each year. No reason to see that streak end this year. We are just 24 days away from the home opener and I for one can't wait. Get your tickets early for the home opener (October 20th). It will be the unveiling of the new team but it will also be a celebration of the the championship from last year complete with raising the banner to the rafters at the Allen Event Center.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Players Arrive Next Week, Some To AHL Camps & More

I had a chance to spend over an hour in Coach Steve Martinson's man cave (office) in the bowels of the Allen Event Center (lockerroom) yesterday and had a wide ranging conversation about the championship, the off-season, the upcoming season, the mission of the CHL, player personnel, his family and much more. Hoping to post that story tomorrow. It should be a good one.

- AHL camps have already started or will be starting in the next few days. Kale Kerbashian & Alex Lavoie are at camp with the Oklahoma Barons on tryout contracts. This is a great experience for young players as it gives them a head start on getting into game shape, they can get noticed for possible call ups during the season, and they get to spend ice time with players and coaches from a higher level and learn new skills. There is one additional Americans player attending an AHL camp but that name has not as yet been made public.

- Americans players will be arriving in Allen next week. Players will move into the apartments, have their physicals, and take part in a players only practice. Training camp has always been open to the public so make plans to stop by the Allen Event Center the week of October 7th to check out this years training camp roster. There should be about 30 guys in camp. Mark your calendar for October 12th (Saturday) as in lieu of a preseason game there will be an intra squad game and it will be open to the public. Details are still being worked out but it should be a great opportunity to get familiar with the new team and see how the lines and defensive pairings are shaping up. In addition to the game itself there will be other activities. One idea being tossed around is a "skills contest" which would be great to see. We could determine the fastest skater (forwards and backwards), hardest shot, most accurate shot to name a few or do relays, and a breakaway challenge. It would be a big hit in my opinion.

- Heard there is a new leader in the front office sales challenge which should be coming to an end next week. Team Bootland has made a big comeback and is now ahead of Team Ludwig. Call your favorite and buy some tickets.

- Don't forget the Walk to End Alzheimer's takes place this Saturday (28th) at Celebration Park in Allen and starts at 9:30 am. The Allen Americans team has grown to close to 20 participants and includes players, players wives, front office staff, Ice Angels, and fans. You can help in two ways. You can sign up to be a member of the Allen Americans walk team or you can pledge to one of the members of the team who is already registered to walk. Go to and search for the Walk to End Alzheimer's in Allen and then search for the Allen Americans' Walk Page. They really need your help as they are only at 14% of their goal with just four days to go. HELP!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Shocker: CHL Fighting Stats, Fighting Etiquette & More

As I was working on the blog post yesterday (Reference List For The Obsessed CHL Hockey Fan) I found myself spending a lot of time on looking at information. It was so interesting to me I decided to share some information on today's post. Everyone is not a fan of hockey fight but it is part of the game. If you want an interesting perspective on the role of the fighter/enforcer in hockey take look at the Kip Brennan interview at the end of this post.  The data below is what is reported on for last season (2012-2013).

Darryl Bootland's 70% fight win percentage was the highest in the CHL last year. The picture above is from the early years with the Detroit Red Wings.

- Total fights in the CHL for the 2012-2013 season were 293. Teams totals:
91 - Allen
73 - Denver
70 - Rapid City
61 - Wichita
55 - Quad City
54 - Bloomington
49 - Arizona
48 - Missouri
48 - Fort Worth
37 - Tulsa

- Coaches often talk about the need to have enforcers/heavyweights early in the year to set the tone and protect the team but the value of these players changes at the end of the year and in the playoffs. If you look at fights by month it seems to prove this assumption. Fights in the CHL last year by month:
October -      29
November -  50
December -   68
January -       63
February -     44
March -         28
April -            5
May -             6

- Allen had the highest team fight win percentage at 58% while Fort Worth had the lowest at 38%

- Darryl Bootland led all players in fight win percentage in the league (minimum six decisions) at 70%

- Justin Sawyer (Rapid City) led the league in the most fights (25) which was seven more than second place Jean-Philip Chabot (18) from Denver. Allen players on the list were Kip Brennan (12), Garrett Clarke (12), Alex Penner (11), Ryley Grantham (10) & Darryl Bootland (9). These are figures for the year and for some of the players it is with more than one team. See Allen team chart below.

- The longest fight of the year by far was 1:20 between Justin Sawyer & Alex Penner.

- Garrett Gruenke (Rapid City) was rated the most entertaining fighter.

 - The highest rated fight in Allen Americans history was by a guy who did not fight that often, Judd Blackwater (2010-2011). It is also the highest rated fight (9.8 on a scale of 10) by in the CHL in the last five years. If you have never seen the video of this two punch knockout look it up on YouTube (Jim Jorgensen vs Judd Blackwater). The fight was great but you will also enjoy the call by Tommy Daniels. Here is one of the reviews written on at the time:

Wow! Never seen anything quite like that. Blackwater dropped Jorgensen not once, but twice in this tilt. Jorgensen was rocked by a straight left, and if that wasn't enough, he got back up to eat a right hand from Blackwater, sending him back down to the ice. Big KO victory for Judd Blackwater, in what is probably one of the most spectacular KO's you'll ever see. KO win for Blackwater.

Finally, here is the fight chart for the Allen Americans from last year. Assume it will be a long list this coming season as well as the Americans are loaded with tough, gritty, guys who will be willing to fight if challenged or to protect their teammates.

 Win % 
 No Dec'n 

I found the interview below with Kip Brennan, which talks about the role of the enforcer, informative when I first read it a few years ago. It is somewhat outdated (2003) but what it points out are the rules of the enforcer. There are lots of rules, all unspoken and informal, by which most enforcers abide. At the time of this interview Kip was bouncing back and forth between the Manchester Monarchs (AHL) and the Los Angles Kings (NHL).

Q & A: Kip Brennan

Shawn LaRoche
Oct 11, 2003

Kip Brennan is a player every NHL team would like to have. An Ontario native who grew up playing the game spent part of five seasons in the OHL refining his skills, before taking his game to the AHL. Over the last two seasons he has played 23 games in the NHL, dropping the gloves 9 times. Kip was good enough to spend some time answering questions from's Shawn LaRoche.

Kip would like to send his thoughts and deepest condolences to the Snyder family, as well as Danny Heatley and his family.

Shawn LaRoche: Kip, do you like the role of the enforcer? Also, how did you get started in that role? You played during a tough era in the O.H.L. So do you remember your first fight ever (in hockey) and how that went?

Kip: I love what I do. At the end of the day, business aside, we are grown men fortunate enough to play a game we love.

The second question was how I got started in the role. I was a fairly large kid growing up. I was a defenseman through out my career until I attended my first professional camp with the Kings and was switched to the wing. I was 13 years old and playing Junior “C” hockey with my brother, who is two years older. The league had men as old as 21-years old. It was my first game and I got into a fight with a 20 year old and handled myself pretty well. My mother was in the stands yelling at the other player to stop fighting me until she realized that I knocked out some of his teeth. My older brother was happy that I did because, had I not, he would have defended me and he wasn’t sure he could handle the other guy.

Shawn: Do you feel that there are minor league enforcers that are better fighters than NHL enforcers?

Kip: That’s a hard question to answer, because of two reasons. The first being the fact that I have not had a chance to fight too many NHL heavyweights, and secondly I think that the AHL heavyweights all have something to prove to get to the next level and they are in general more willing to tangle at any given time. In the NHL you have to be smart in picking your battles.

Shawn: Name the 3 toughest fighters you fought in the AHL, and do you feel these 3 fighters could beat Brashear, Laraque or Worrell?

Kip: In the AHL Eric Godard, Richard Scott and Matt Carkner. To answer the second part of your question, it’s hard to say, given the right circumstances and situations I think any player can be beaten. That is why we have to not take anything for granted and lightly.

Shawn: Who's the most under-rated fighter in the AHL, and who's the most over-rated fighter in the AHL?

Kip: Hard to answer, I think from my perspective no one is under-rated or over-rated. I treat every one the same with respect. I think fans may be more into that kind of information than I am. I can say that I do look at the other team’s roster and recognize who their enforcer is so that I can prepare myself but that’s about it. I will make notes that for instance he’s predominantly a left-handed puncher etc. But I don’t rate them.

Shawn: Do you feel that the lockout/strike will cancel the entire 2004-2005 season?

Kip: I hope not but I’ll leave that in the hands of the NHLPA, the NHL and the owners.

Shawn: If there was a lockout, would you consider signing with the WHA?

Kip: In the current stage of my development as a professional player I think that it would really hurt my game to be sitting out for any extended period of time. I would be caught in the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. On one hand I need to further develop my game and on the other I want to support the NHLPA in their actions. I think I would consult with my agent and the NHLPA to see what my options are considering playing in any other league. I hope it does not get to that point but I understand that hockey is a business, and as such this is just a part of doing business.

Shawn: What NHL fighters do you desperately want on your fight card?

Kip: I think if the opportunity presented itself I would like to establish myself by taking on all the big names; Brashear, Laraque, Worrell etc. But to say that I’m desperately looking to fight them would not be right. I am willing to fight with anyone, if it’s at the defence of my teammates and it’s at a time in the game that will not hinder my team’s performance.

Shawn: What has been your hardest NHL fight, and what has been your easiest NHL fight?

Kip: Hard question, toughest I’d say was with Todd Fedoruk, and I had no easy fights.

Shawn: Do you feel that the NHL will try to legislate enforcers out of the NHL within 5 years?

Kip: I hope not because in my opinion it is part of the game of hockey. With the passion to which all the players play with night in and night out and the physical nature of the game, I think that it would be hard to eliminate that from the game. I do think that the role of the enforcer has changed a lot. What I mean is you have to have more than one dimension to your game in today’s NHL, AHL and even OHL etc. I think that the game is moving towards more skills overall and the role of the enforcer is no exception. That’s why I’m constantly working on my skating, stick handling and shot in the off-season and during the regular season.

Shawn: If you play the majority of the year, this year for the Kings, how many fighting majors do you want to rack up?

Kip: As many as I need to protect my teammates and help the Kings. If it’s 1 than it’s 1, if I need to have 20, than 20 it is. I think going in with a figure in your head or a goal is setting you up for failure. If I reach my goal, but my team was scored on each time I was in the box is that worth it? The opposite is true, if I limit my fights and my teammates aren’t adequately protected, does that mean that I’m better off? I think that is the biggest misconception about enforcers in general. People think that we set out goals for 20 majors and that is considered successful. For me personally, if I’m even or positive in the plus/minus rating and my line mates are scoring goals, getting assists and the team is winning that is success for me.

Shawn: Have you ever fought Ryan Flinn?

Kip: Ryan and I have had a few tangles at training camp. He’s a big man and it’s nice to have someone else in the organization that is willing to tangle. When we played in the AHL together last year it was a lot of fun, as I knew he was ready to protect me and I was more than willing to protect him. We also had another teammate Joe Rullier, who was willing to tangle if need be.

Shawn: Do you know any information regarding Ken Belanger and the status of his career?

Kip: Ken Belanger was a free agent this past summer was unsigned and he has now retired from hockey.

Shawn: Who do you think are the top 10 guys in the league? Who is the most intimidating enforcer in today's NHL?

Kip: Your fans seem to have it pretty much figured out. I’d agree with most assessments.

Shawn: Who has the hardest punching power in the NHL?

Kip: Of the guys that I fought I think Eric Godard and Todd Fedoruk.

Shawn: Is there any one player or any players that you absolutely can't stand and why?

Kip: I have been around hockey a long time from childhood to now and I can honestly say that I have not disliked any player off the ice. On the ice, I know that they have a job to do and I respect it but off the ice, I would say none at all.

Shawn: What do you eat or drink or before a game?

Kip: I am a bit of a health nut; you have to be in today’s professional hockey world. I try to eat a balanced meal on game days, higher in carbohydrates (for energy) and I try to consume as much water as I can. A typical pre-game meal for me would be pasta, a chicken breast, a salad and tons of water.

Shawn: Who do you think is the most feared/respected enforcer in the league today?

Kip: In my opinion, I respect and fear them all. What I mean by that is, if you don’t and take them lightly that’s when injuries will happen or I’ll be caught off guard. Just like anything else the minute you do not pay attention or respect something that’s when the worst will happen. Fans may have their list of who’s who and I would agree with most assessments.

Shawn: What was your most memorable game? Was it your first?

Kip: There are so many of them. My first professional game was memorable in Lowell, MA as a Lock Monster, my first professional goal and of course my first NHL game in Long Island is right up there.

Shawn: Were you as shocked as everyone else on how you beat Chris McAllister so decisively?

Kip: McAllister is a big man and as I mentioned earlier about respecting all players I was not surprised because I’m confident in my abilities but what would surprise me is if in the future I don’t continue to respect him and all the other players.

Shawn: In your opinion, was that game against Philadelphia, where you fought both Todd Fedoruk and Chris McAllister your best night in the NHL?

Kip: It was definitely memorable. Both fights were tough fights and so far rank right up there.

Shawn: As an enforcer, if the NHL abolished the Instigator rule do you feel it would help the game and make it easier for you (and other enforcers) to do their job?

Kip: I think all the rules in the NHL are set up for a reason, and that’s to protect the players. As I answered earlier, there is a fair amount of respect that I have for all players with or without the instigator rules. I know that the rule is there to protect all involved, but if the rule was not there I don’t think I would play any differently.

Shawn: What NHL player did you look up to when you were younger?

Kip: I looked up to Mark Messier; he was a big man who played really physical. I also really liked Steve Yzerman.

Shawn: Would you be willing to run another team’s finesse player in order to send a message? Or is that a violation of the heavyweight code?

Kip: I don’t think that I have ever purposely tried to run or injure another team’s star. I think that would be a really be a bad thing if that is what fans perceive an enforcer to be. Personally, I know the hard work, dedication and sacrifices that we all had to make to get to the NHL. For me to disrespect a player and “run” him would never be my intention. I just look for the puck and if the other colour jersey has the puck I will hit them, no harder or softer, if it’s a star or fourth liner. As for it being a violation of the “heavyweight code”, I think it’s a violation of respect to intentionally injure another player.

Shawn: On that note, is there still a heavyweight code that exists today?

Kip: There’s an understanding that a heavyweight is not going to fight a skilled non-fighting player. In addition to that we all understand that we all take great risks in fighting and if the other player during the fights asks to stop the other stops immediately.

Shawn: Have you ever been nervous about fighting somebody that has ended another heavyweight’s career?

Kip: I have never been nervous, but I have been careful and respectful.

Shawn: Kip, due to the pacification of the NHL, do you feel it necessary to concentrate more and more on skating, and puck handling, etc to maintain at this level? Or do you think that your primary job of protecting your teammates will continue to earn you a spot on today’s NHL roster?

Kip: Great question, personally I think that today’s enforcer must bring more to the table than his knuckles. Skating, stick handling, passing and shooting are all part of the game. If you look at today’s enforcers, Laraque is a force with the puck, Brashear scores regularly and Chris Simon a few years back was on a scoring streak. As previously stated the game is so fast now that without being able to skate and keep up and play a regular shift an enforcer will not be too useful for his team. That’s why I work a lot in the off-season on my foot speed and puck handling skills.

Shawn: What kinds of things are said during an altercation with the other team’s policeman, before - during - or after the fight?

Kip: We agree to go and we agree when to stop. There is usually an acknowledgment that it was a good fight. I think we’re all gentlemen out there and respect the other’s job and responsibility.

Shawn: Kip, what does the meaning of the symbols tattooed on the inside of your right wrist mean?

Kip: Severe punishment – It reminds me that I always have to sacrifice and work hard and willing to fight through the “pains” of training to achieve my goals. In other words willing to take “severe punishment” to get there.

Shawn: During your fight last season against Todd Simpson what was said between the two of you after it was over? Also, I noticed you and Todd fighting again in a preseason in Phoenix. How do you feel about Todd as a fighter?
Kip: To answer your question Shawn, I don’t remember specifically what we said to each other but I’m sure it was not suitable for a daytime TV audience. Todd is a tough man and has earned my respect for the many years of service as an enforcer. I wish him well in Anaheim and I’m sure we will be renewing our battle this season with us playing them so many times this year and the natural rivalry between the two clubs.