- Stopped by practice yesterday to find everyone participating in practice for the first time in a while. I'm sure some of the guys are not 100% but at least everyone was participating. The part of practice I witnessed was devoted to working on system related issues and also the shoot out drill. The players seemed to me to be much more relaxed and having fun compared to the practices prior to the Arizona trip. Playing well and a couple of wins might contribute to the mood shift. We will probably have to wait until Friday to determine who will be playing and who will be on IR for the weekend. Shout out to Dan Zalaznik, Richard and Carol Henry who were the only fans attending practice. I call them super fans as they support the team in many ways and attending practice is one of them.
- Several players ran all of the steps in the Allen Event Center after practice. I saw them from afar but I think one group was led by John Snowden and included Bryan Pitton and Daniel Tetrault while Kale Kerbashian ran by himself as the other group was finishing. Seeing the players bust their butts on the steps reminded me of what coach Martinson always says, "you can't be the best player if you are not the hardest working."
- The big hype about a major CHL announcement for yesterday underwhelmed most everyone. The announcement was the CHL would expand by a maximum of two teams for next season without any specific locations. Here are some of the comments I saw after the "big announcement" which reflect how most fans/observers felt.
* So much for this "major announcement". We might have 2 new teams next year, but we aren't sure.
* CHL announces that they will be announcing expansion. As soon as they announce it. End of announcement.
* Uh...that announcement was edifying. The league might or might not expand by one or two teams next year!!!
The CHL may have wanted to reassure everyone that they are a viable league that can find investors in additional markets. A sort of preemptive strike to counteract any information that may come out about teams leaving the CHL (Rapid City) or folding (Denver, St. Charles). Just speculation on my part because on the face of it (unless you read a message between the lines) the expansion news release was not well accepted. I saw this posted on chlforums.com which captures how most people felt after waiting for the exciting news:
- Garrett Clarke's shooting the puck into the bench (some say intended for coach Martinson) last Friday was followed by a similar incident in the SPHL on Saturday night. As you recall, Clarke received a one game suspension which Martinson took great issue with for an incident which could have ended with a serious injury for someone on the team or even worse a fan. The incident in the SPHL the next night was very similar. It was a game between the Peoria Rivermen and Bloomington Thunder in which the a Bloomington Thunder player deliberately shot the puck into the Peoria bench towards the end of the game. When the player was suspended the coach thought the suspension was not long enough. The only difference is in the SPHL case the suspension was for five games. My opinion is the SPHL did a better job of handling the situation than the CHL for the reasons stated below. Here are some details from a story written by Dave Eminian from the Peoria Star Journal:
PEORIA — The Peoria Rivermen had already put the
penalty-filled, antic-laden win Saturday over the Bloomington Thunder
behind them as they waited and watched, with interest, to see what
discipline might come from the SPHL. On
Wednesday, the league and the Thunder put Bloomington head coach Brian
Gratz behind them. Gratz resigned, avoiding what might have been a long
suspension coming from the league for his role in a contest that
produced 180 penalty minutes, 6 ejections and a Bloomington player who
fired a puck at the Rivermen bench. That player,
Kory Helowka, drew a five-game suspension from the SPHL on Wednesday,
about the equivalent of what a major elbowing or checking from behind
infraction might typically draw in higher-level leagues like the ECHL or
AHL. "Helowka could have killed someone,
though," said Rivermen head coach Jean-Guy Trudel, at whom Helowka fired
the puck. "I thought it (the suspension) would be more, but it is a
league decision, we accept it, and we move on. At least the league
addressed it and did something. We can't have guys doing this kind of
stuff if we hope to build credibility in the SPHL like the ECHL and AHL
- You have to wonder if there will be any fallout surrounding Garrett Clarke from the shooting the puck in the bench incident in Arizona last Friday. The league has taken action so that is done but will the team be concerned about his actions. If you have read the story I wrote about him last year, "Player Profile - Garrett Clarke" dated December 12, 2012 you know he is a talented young player who always seems to take things too far and get himself in trouble. He has played for 11 different teams in the last six years. The Sundogs may be wondering if the risk is worth the reward.