|Courtesy CHL Memes|
- While everyone is waiting for the official word on what will happen between the ECHL and CHL thought it would be good to cover some other issues of interest. My personal view (I have no sources and the team obviously is not talking to a lowly blogger) is that things are going full speed ahead behind the scenes and sometime in the next xx days (fill in the blank) it will be announced the CHL will be playing in the ECHL for the upcoming season. What does it all mean. Check out the last post (September 17) in the archives where some of the details are covered. Enough said about that as everyone is tired of speculation/rumor/ guesses on what will happen and is ready for just the facts. So, let's move on to some other topics.
- One of the big keys in the Allen American's championship last year was the play of the three amigos, the three musketeers, the rooks or whatever else they were called. They were close friends on and off the ice and were always hanging out together. What a magical season for Spencer Asuchak, Alex Lavoie and Jonathan Lessard. Who would have guessed at the beginning of the season the top three scorers on this championship team would be the three young guys who carried the team for much of the season. Success creates opportunity and it sure has for these guys. Here is an update:
- Lessard: After originally signing to return to Allen, Jonathan has signed with Bakersfield (ECHL) to play for a coach he knows from back home. Even if Allen is playing in the ECHL this season the fact that Lessard signed with Allen first and then Bakersfield will have no impact. The only way he could return to Allen would be via a trade with Bakersfield.
- Asuchak: Spencer went to rookie training camp with the NHL Boston Bruins. Had a chance to exchange messages with him this morning and here is what he had to say. "I am still in Boston practicing as an extra forward. I will be heading to Providence, Rhode Island (Boston's AHL affiliate) on Sunday to start camp with the Providence Bruins on Monday. I have not signed a contract with anyone for the upcoming season. Right now my total focus is playing in the AHL and I won't be making any decisions until after the Providence camp. Allen is definitely an option and somewhere I would return to if it doesn't work out in the AHL. Hope all is well in Allen!" As much as Allen fans would love to see Spencer back with the Americans let's hope we don't see him this year because he deserves to be playing in the AHL.
- Lavoie: Received an update on Alex this morning as well. He has signed with the ECHL Florida Everblades for the upcoming season and will be attending training camp with the AHL Norfolk Admirals. He leaves Sunday for Norfolk. Alex's mom, Christine Gegear, was kind enough to talk to Alex about his experience in Allen and send his thoughts along to be shared with his fans. So here is cub reporter Christine Gegear's interview with Alex Lavoie:
"We had a long talk about his year in Allen and Alex told me that he would never be able to forget the incredible year that he had. He told me that for his first pro year he could not have asked for anything better. He told me that he will always have the best memories and has made friends forever with his teammates, the coaching staff and everyone associated with the team. He said it was a classy organization and the best that he could have asked for. What Alex found amazing was the support that the team got from the fans. He couldn't believe the time and effort that people put in just to make sure that they were fed on trips and taken care of in their apartments.
And how friendly everyone was. He told me that it will always be something that he is very proud of and will miss many things about Allen. The fans were exceptional and he said he couldn't have asked for a better bunch of guys to win the Presidents' Cup. I am sure that he will miss you guys this winter."
Let's hope Alex gets an opportunity in the AHL this year as he certainly deserves it. And it goes without saying his CHL rookie scoring records will never be broken.
- In the last blog post (September 17) there was a partial list of all the scholar athletes on this years roster which is very impressive. Some other interesting facts about this team that can be pursued during the year include several musicians/ singers so maybe a concert for the fans at some point, there is a scratch golfer, and some interesting parents to meet including doctors, ministers, engineers, nurse, occupational therapist, educators, and those that work in the automotive, ATV and snowmobile industry to name just a few. This year's team will also have plenty of guys that like to hunt and fish. It should be a fun group and there are additional signings to come.
- Stopped by the Allen Event Center this week and lots of activity preparing for the upcoming training camp. Coach Martinson was busy working the phones to sign those last few players before the start of training camp. New equipment manager Rusty Aldridge was cleaning up the locker room in preparation for players arrival and working with the players to determine number assignments. Head athletic trainer Jaime Garcia was reviewing supply requirements for his area of responsibility. The Ice Angels are busy learning new routines and taking skating lessons and the front office is busy with ticket sales, promotions and corporate sponsors. You can tell it won't be long now.
- There has been a lot of talk about the AHL establishing a division on the west coast next year and the impact that will have on other leagues. Came across the article below written by sports columnist Jim Alexander of "The Press Enterprise" which is online at pe.com. He is based in California. Here is Jim's story.
The concept has been kicked around for years and now seems closer to reality than ever: A division of the American Hockey League based in the West, allowing NHL clubs in this region easier access to their main minor league affiliate. It could happen as early as the 2015-16 season, and it’s apparently serious enough that Kings and Ducks executives, through their team spokesmen, are declining comment for now. And the biggest winner in all of this could be Ontario. Indeed, the Inland Empire — which has embraced ECHL hockey to a degree that was, frankly, unexpected when the Reign set up shop in Citizens Business Bank Arena in 2008 — could have one of minor league hockey’s flagship franchises when all the shuffling ends. “You look at other markets throughout the country, and sometimes they wonder if their hockey team is going to be around,” Reign president Justin Kemp said. “In this one, more than one league wants you. It’s a good situation to be in.”
The Reign has been a ticket-selling machine in its seven ECHL seasons, while fielding rosters largely composed of free agents trying to play their way up the developmental ladder. It has not only outdrawn almost everybody in its own league (finishing first in attendance in five seasons and second in the other two) but has outdrawn the majority of the teams in the AHL, hockey’s version of Triple-A. In seven seasons, the only time the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H., outdrew Ontario was 2008-09, the Reign’s first year, and that was by a grand total of 36 customers.
Last season it wasn’t close. Ontario averaged 8,158 tickets distributed per home game to Manchester’s 5,608. The Reign outdrew 29 of the AHL’s 30 teams, with only perennial AHL attendance champ Hershey, Pa., drawing more: 9,664. But while tickets sold create a pretty hefty business model, it’s not the reason NHL teams want their main affiliates closer to them. A player called up from the AHL by the Kings, Ducks, or their Pacific or Mountain time zone counterparts faces a full day’s travel in order to join the team at home. A more conveniently located affiliate would enable the team’s executives and scouts to see their prospects in person more often, and would also allow the local fans greater identification with future major leaguers. It’s really such a simple and logical idea that it should have happened years ago. But it has taken a combination of desire on the part of NHL clubs and expiring affiliation contracts to make the idea of a true AHL Western Division tantalizingly close. The Ducks, whose AHL franchise is currently based in Norfolk, Va., are said to be looking at San Diego, where a new AHL team — which hopefully would use the old Gulls nickname — would play in the Valley View Casino Center, the former San Diego Sports Arena. The San Jose Sharks would reportedly move from Worcester, Mass., to Stockton or Fresno. The Edmonton Oilers purchased Bakersfield’s ECHL franchise last January, and the Arizona (formerly Phoenix) Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche purchased Central Hockey League franchises in Prescott Valley, Ariz., and Denver respectively. Both CHL teams subsequently suspended operations as that league merged with the ECHL, raising speculation that those might ultimately be AHL landing spots. The most likely move, and the biggest no-brainer? The Kings to Ontario. The Reign and Manchester Monarchs are both owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, as is the Kings, and it will be simple to swap one for the other. Would having a team fully identified with the Kings, as opposed to its current working agreements with LA and the Winnipeg Jets, make the Ontario franchise’s fan base bigger? Kemp said he’s not sure it necessarily would make a difference.
DID YOU KNOW: 124 different players have played regular season games for the Allen Americans in their first five years of existence and there has been at least one player whose last name starts with every letter of the alphabet except for the letters U & X.