Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Steve Martinson Talks Past, Present & Future

Tommy Daniels and Steve Martinson kicked off an ambitious radio schedule for this season last night at five year sponsor Solutions Automotive in McKinney. It was a great show and very informative. They covered a lot of ground during the hour show from reliving the championship season, to the current roster to the future of the CHL. Here are some of the highlights of what Coach Martinson had to say:

- If you look at championship teams they all tend to be physical teams that have gritty players who are tough to play against. That has been and will continue to be the formula for success. But a couple of guys who aren't real physical came through for us in the championship series. Bringing in Todd Robinson for the playoff run really helped our team, especially on the power play where we had underperformed after Brett Skinner went to the AHL. Brian McMillin earned extra ice time in the playoffs and made the most of it. Even when we were down 2-0 in the third period of the seventh game the players were positive as we were out playing Wichita. It was a great ending to a great season.

- We have brought in a new player named Greger Hanson who played for Wichita last year (see post from yesterday, "Allen Americans Sign Former Wichita Forward Greger Hanson"). I thought he was the best player on Wichita's team during the finals last year until he got hurt. He broke his jaw and didn't play in the seventh game. He looked good in practice today and will play on Friday against Tulsa. Greger just got married in July but his wife will not be joining him as she is going to law school in North Carolina (Wake Forest). He will be rooming with his four year college teammate, Phil Fox.

- David Brown will start in goal on Friday. Our goalie play thus far has been good but not great. I would like to see both of our goalies playing better and the best situation would be if they were interchangeable rather than having a #1 & #2.

- Our young guys are meeting our expectations but we need more scoring out of some of our veteran players. Spencer Asuchak has four goals and is usually skating against the other teams top line. He is a very smart player and skates well for a big guy.

- Corey Tamblyn has played an important role for our team. When I signed him. I told his agent he would have to beat out some guys in training camp that were ahead of him. Corey came to camp in great shape and made the team through hard work. He has done a good job on the checking line and as a penalty killer and on the road I have played him some at his natural position of center. He has also proven to be a good face-off  guy.

- I heard good things about Alex Lavoie on his one game loan to Oklahoma City. He created opportunities, had a couple of shots on goal and almost scored.  Alex still has some work to do to improve his play in the defensive end but he will get additional opportunities
 at the AHL level this year.

- We feel we have the best group of defensemen in the league. We spent a lot of money in putting this veteran group together. They have not been performing up to expectations thus far but we are confident this will get straightened out. We are looking at them as a group to lead by example and make good decisions which they aren't always doing at this point.

- I have started earlier than last year to identify guys who are playing in Europe who are interested in coming to Allen for the playoffs. Guys like Colton Yellow Horn, who are on teams that will not make the playoffs in Europe.

- It is difficult to know the future of the CHL. Several teams are struggling to put fans in the stands. It has to be difficult financially for teams like Denver, Arizona, St. Charles and Brampton even if the owners have deep pockets. The St. Charles and Brampton franchises were approved when the CHL was owned by one guy. Now that the league is owned by a group you wonder if those same decisions would be made. It is difficult to justify spending $30,000 on a trip to Brampton for visiting teams.

- I talk to players, agents, and front office staffs all the time who express interest in coming to Allen or having a relationship with Allen but will not do so because of the uncertainty surrounding the CHL. I have no idea what the future holds but I do know the league needs to strengthen its franchises and make some rule changes that will help all the teams in the league.

- Without a reciprocal agreement in place with the ECHL you have to be very careful in how you manage players and also how you go about trading players in the CHL. Since players can always jump to the ECHL if they are not happy you need to make sure if you make a trade the player will not turn around and sign with the ECHL. The same is true if you claim a player on waivers.


- Chad Costello who was one of the best players in the CHL has signed with the Ontario Reign (ECHL). Martinson mentioned on the radio broadcast that he almost had a trade worked out to acquire Costello but a paperwork snafu prevented it from happening. Instead Costello was put on waivers and claimed by the Arizona Sundogs. Rather than reporting to Arizona he opted to sign with Ontario.

- In the lone game in the CHL last night Denver beat Missouri 4-1 behind two goals by Garett Bembridge. Bembridge leads the CHL in goals (13) and points (24). He is an experienced player (32 years old) who has 244 AHL games and has played in the ECHL,(207 games), in Germany (173 games), Italy and last year in Japan. He played for the Nikko Icebucks in Japan and was a teammate of Dave Bonk who played for the Americans (2010 - 2011). Looks like Bembridge will be a force to be reckoned with the entire year.

- As impressive as the Denver win was last night in beating Missouri the attendance was abysmal with the official figure being 911. Someone who attended the game reported that the actual crowd was no more than 500. In the five years the Americans have been in the CHL only four teams have averaged fewer than 2000 for the entire season and they are obviously no longer in the league. Both Denver (1379) and St. Charles (1809) are in that "can't survive" territory at this point in the season. While they have time to turn it around it will take some effort. St. Charles is a new franchise and playing poorly so there is more hope in their case than Denver where the team is playing great (7-0-2 at home) and they are in the second year of operation. Denver has the biggest decrease in attendance from last year (over 50%) than any team in minor pro hockey.

DID YOU KNOW: The best team in the league according to the coaches poll, writers poll, and the standings is the Rapid City Rush. A remarkably start to the season with a record of 10-1. Imagine how much better they can become if they improve on special teams. If you combine power play and penalty kill the Rush have the worst special teams in the league. They rank 9th on the power play at 11.67% and they rank 7th on the penalty kill at 80.77%.

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