Sunday, August 24, 2014

Steve Martinson - "State of The Team" Address

 Martinson will be starting his 19th year as a head coach, has eight championships & over 800 wins

- Steve Martinson is back in town after spending the summer at his home in Rockford, Illinois and sat down with fans at the Allen Event Center yesterday to answer their questions. The biggest news Steve shared was the draft schedule (seven team schedule) just arrived and after a quick review by the teams should be finalized and made public in the next few days. Since the document is still a draft no details were given other than the home opener is still scheduled for Friday, October 24th and the team will only have to travel to Brampton one time which makes coach very happy. He spent some time talking about and reassuring everyone that a league with seven teams will be just fine as he has played in and coached in this situation many times. Yes, we will play the teams in closest proximity a few more times but nothing different than when the Brahmas were in the league. And with the no more trips to Arizona and Denver and only one to Brampton the schedule will be more family friendly with less time on the road and should also reduce travel costs.

- Steve spent some time talking about the pros and cons of the CHL and ECHL merging but reminded everyone the important thing to keep in mind is there will be hockey played in Allen this year and many years in the future and that is what fans need to focus on. He has been around the game long enough that he can't predict the future but knows he can be successful no matter what the league or rules dictate.

- To the question as to why there has been so much turnover from last year's team Martinson explained it is a combination of many factors the major one being after winning back to back championships the Allen players are highly sought after both in Europe and the ECHL. Some players go to Europe just for the experience and some because it is more lucrative but either way winning a championship certainly provides more opportunity. Some of the younger players have signed with  ECHL teams because they see it as a better league to play in to move up to the AHL. Another factor in players moving on is salary as after winning a championship all players feel they deserve a raise. Unfortunately the salary cap for the upcoming season is exactly the same ($12,000 per week) so it is impossible to give everyone a raise. And some players were unhappy with their roles during the last part of the season and the playoffs so they decided to move on.

- While many players have moved on, Martinson expects some may return before the season is over. As has happened in the past things don't always work out when players go to new teams so don't be surprised to see some players return during the season. Often times players assume with their new team they will have the same role and minutes that allowed them to shine with the Americans. Sometimes it doesn't turn out that way because there may be AHL contracted players playing ahead of them.

Here are Martinson's comments on a variety of other topics:

- The defense is going to be very strong this year with lots of veteran leadership, guys that can create offense from the blue line, with strong shutdown guys as well. It has the potential to be the best group I have had in a long time. With Kevin Young and Aaron Gens we have two new guys that can jump up into the play, create space, open up the offense and pull guys out of position. John Ryder is a real bruising, physical defenseman who has led his team in hits everywhere he has played and he is also a shutdown guy. Jeremy Beaudry had close to 20 goals in the Quebec league the last couple of years and from what I understand has a heck of a shot. He is a young guy but with our veteran leadership he should do well.

- The new guys up front include Gary Steffes. When he played in Tulsa I thought he was a very dangerous player and was always creating opportunities. He is not the fastest guy or the most skilled guy but he is very smart. He is a power forward type center and I always like to have a guy like Gary to go against the other team's top line.  Sy Nutkevitch may be a sleeper as he led the Brahmas in assists one year and will create offense for our other forwards. Another young centerman we are bringing in is Travis Ouellette who has a lot of upside. He has a chance to be like some of the young guys from last year.

- We have two goalies signed, Rapheal Girard and Ben Meisner who come highly recommended and there are other goalies that want to come and play in Allen.

- We still have some more players to sign. We have a player that has played for me in the past that is buying a house here. He is just waiting on his mortgage approval. I believe he will be a fan favorite and everybody will love this guy because he can score, he can check and he can fight. I have a tough guy that led the ECHL in fighting majors that we have not announced yet. I am also dealing with a couple of the top players from Arizona who would be great additions to the team.

- We have set up an internship program with the Allen police and fire departments where some of our players can get training and experience during the hockey season which will help them get jobs after they quit playing hockey. Players can always find a team that will pay them more money so it is important to sell what is special about playing in Allen. The internships are just another recruiting tool we have at our disposal that will appeal to some players. I want them to know if they come to Allen they can build something for the future.

- Here is what I was thinking when I signed Garrett Clarke. When Clarke was here the first time he was nineteen years old and he is still only twenty one. I remember they way I was and the decisions I made when I was his age. Clarke has done some boneheaded things but he has so much upside. It is hard to teach players to be nasty to play against and that is the way Clarke plays. He has a lot of skill, is a left shot and can play both defense and forward. Clarke came from a situation where he had a ton of pressure on him with the expectation he would be in the NHL by now. I played a long time and saw coaches make up their mind on a player and never give them a second opportunity. Clarke has assured me he has matured and learned from his mistakes and my approach is what is done is done and we are not going to talk about it anymore. What he does from this point forward is what matters now.

- I would love to get Spencer Asuchuk back in Allen if he doesn't sign an AHL deal. It is so critical that young players are given a chance to play so I hope he finds that situation. It is good for Spencer and good for the Allen Americans that he will attend camp with the Boston Bruins. I will always leave the door open for him to return but I don't expect that to happen.

- As for the future of the CHL all I know at this time, as I have not sat down with our owner to talk about this in any depth, is Allen will be playing for years to come whether it be in the CHL, ECHL, or some other league. The Steven Brothers are committed to making this franchise work. The fact that they own three teams within busing distance of each other gives him a real strong negotiating position no matter how this all turns out.

- We have a new equipment manager by the name of Rusty Aldridge who is very experienced. We offered the trainer position to a guy who just got hired in the NHL so we have another guy we are talking to right now. Erik Adams may be the assistant coach as we are working on that right now. If that doesn't work out there won't be an assistant. The only two assistants I have ever had were Richard Matvichuk and the son-in-law of one of the owners I coached for. Nothing is set in stone yet as it has to be something that works for Erik and his family. We have such a veteran defense this year if we don't have an assistant coach it will be okay because the experienced guys will make my job a lot easier.

- I am not sure when a captain of the team will be named but the qualities you look for is someone who is unwavering in his desire to be in Allen, someone who will speak his mind and has respect in the locker room. I always like to say anyone can be a leader on my team and talent has nothing to do with it. If you want to be a leader you have to work hard, you have to be in shape, you have to be a team first guy, you have to follow the systems and you have to finish your checks. If you want to lead and have people listen to what you have to say and respect your opinion you must have those five attributes. My thinking has always been you don't want a bunch of chiefs but you want a bunch of leaders.

- I would like to have a better relationship with the Stars organization especially now that they also own the Texas Stars. With a new ownership group in Allen and learning more about what went on in the past I have tried to open some doors over the summer but we will have to see what happens.

- The new supervisor of officials for the CHL is a guy named Wayne Bonney who was an official in the NHL for 24 years. I met him recently at the summer meeting and came away very impressed. My impression is Wayne was all about how can we make things better. I told Wayne I will do my best to be easier on the officials. I have faith going forward we are going to see some improvement in the officiating. To make the referees better I have to improve by treatment of them as well.

- There no plans for a preseason game at this point. We might end up with an intrasquad game.

- Right after Steve Martinson finished his Q & A, Trevor Ludwig revealed that the winning number in the select a number contest was #17 so that is what he will be wearing this upcoming season. I think it was the number Trevor was hoping would win as it is the number his dad wore in Montreal, his wife was born on the 17th, and he wore #17 in juniors and in college. Sounds like a lot of good luck wrapped up in #17.

Trevor Ludwig will wear #17 this year.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info, was not able to make it yesterday. C'mon 10/24.