Monday, October 6, 2014

A Big Week For CHL Hockey - The Decision, The Shuffle, The Team, The Players

If you are a hockey fan waiting for the season to start, this week could not be any bigger at many different levels. From the big picture of what is happening with the CHL all the way to what is happening with your favorite players there will be some happy times and sad times this week.

- The elephant in the room is for sure the outcome of what is happening between the CHL and the ECHL. All indications are this will be resolved this week. As a fan you either have the opinion that my team will be playing hockey in the CHL or ECHL and as long as they play hockey I don't care which league or you are hanging on every piece of information you hear whether creditable or not because you want your team in the ECHL. No matter what your thoughts about all of the rumors and speculation it is time to make a decision and move on. It has been stated many times on this blog that the CHL will become part of the ECHL and it will be for this season so this is the week to see if that prediction comes true. It is definitely time for a decision so thought a few "decision making quotes would be appropriate. And as Ben Crenshaw said on the eve of the 1999 Ryder Cup, "I am going to leave y'all with one thought. I am a big believer in fate. I have a good feeling about this."

Here are a few words of wisdom on making decisions:
“Waiting hurts. Forgetting hurts. But not knowing which decision to make can sometimes be the most painful...”

“You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”

“On an important decision one rarely has 100% of the information needed for a good decision no matter how much one spends or how long one waits. And, if one waits too long, he has a different problem and has to start all over. This is the terrible dilemma of the hesitant decision maker.”

“Don`t be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can`t cross a chasm in two small steps.”

“Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.”

“Q: When is the perfect time? A: Who can say, but probably somewhere between haste and delay - and it's usually most wise to start today.”

- No matter what level of professional hockey you follow there are dreams made and broken during the coming week and things will happen fast. What starts out with the excitement of being invited to camp at a higher level can end up being released at a lower level. Lot's of players were at NHL camps and are now being sent elsewhere. The NHL regular season starts on Wednesday.  Here are just a couple of headlines from the past week.
"Montreal Canadiens Release 17 Players From Training Camp Roster"
" Tampa Bay Lightning Make Grand Training Camp Cuts," 28 players removed from roster with 25 heading to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL).
"Minnestoa Wild Reduce Roster to 39," must get down to 23 by opening day (October 9th)

- The AHL is also in the middle of their training camp and are receiving an influx of players from their NHL affiliates in preparation for their first regular season games which start on Friday (October 10). Players invited to AHL camps are already being released with many more to be released after the final preseason games which were yesterday (Sunday). Some examples:
"The American Hockey League's Rockford IceHogs announced today that they have reduced their training camp roster by 14 players.
"Iowa Wild Assigns Cameron To Alaska, Releases Three Other"
"Rochester Americans Reduce Training Camp Roster by Four More"
You can expect many more players on AHL contracts to be assigned to ECHL teams this week and those on tryout contracts to be released.

- ECHL teams are just starting training camps with some already in progress and many others starting today (Monday). As the ECHL teams get AHL players assigned it puts at risk players who have signed ECHL contracts during the summer. Many excellent players will be cut by the ECHL prior to October 15th when final rosters are due.

- Whether the CHL joins the ECHL as expected or not their training camps will not start until October 10th. As players are cut from ECHL teams look for some of them to be picked up by the CHL teams. If this happens don't interpret it to mean the CHL is getting players with less talent than the current ECHL teams. Many times players that are cut are better players than the contract players that are assigned.

- The bottom line is there has already been and there will continue to be a tremendous amount of movement all over hockey this week. Many players will be happy that they made it to the next level but many more will be disappointed by being sent down to a lower league than they hoped. It is a difficult time but it is the way of life as a professional hockey player. It will be a particularly difficult time for more experienced players because there are fewer teams and the veteran rules will make for many fewer slots for veterans. The CHL will have three fewer teams and with the switch to the ECHL (as expected) and the more restrictive veteran rules it could mean a minimum 32 fewer veteran slots just in the CHL.

- It will obviously be a big week for the Allen Americans as the team assembles for the start of training camp. Having talked to many of the players the impending move to the ECHL is something they have been wondering about just like the fans. They are not in the loop about all the changes that come with this decision and will be anxious to find out the impact after the move is announced. Players are converging on Allen from great distances. From young rookies getting bon voyage messages from family and friends to the annual trek from returning players and their families. A sense of humor is important and you have to love Nicole Schaafsma's picture about their return to Allen. Remember Nicole and Jamie have two young children (Sawyer & Sutter) so packing up to come south is no easy task.
First thing into the Uhaul! #priority

- Most players will be in town by Wednesday and there will probably be some surprise announcements before camp starts and during camp. There are players signed but still not announced in Allen as well as with many other CHL teams. It makes one wonder if announcements are being held for a reason. The other thing that will surely happen is players being assigned to CHL teams that are under contract in the AHL. This is already happening to CHL teams with AHL affiliations but don't be surprised if it happens in Allen once they become part of the ECHL (as expected). And it is possible Allen could get an AHL affiliation once they move to the ECHL (as expected).

This week has and will be a big one for some current and former Allen players as they try and advance their careers in a higher league. Here is how a few of them are doing:

Spencer Asuchak - went to camp with the Boston Bruins (NHL) and is currently in camp with the Providence Bruins (AHL). Spencer had a goal in the Providence 4-3 overtime win against Springfield. There are only two players on tryout contracts still with the team and Spencer is one of them. He should know something later today about his future. Former Allen defenseman Bryce Aneloski was also at this camp but has been released and is back with the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL).

Corbin Baldwin - Corbin went to camp with the Minnesota Wild (NHL) but was sent to the Iowa Wild (AHL) where he played last year.

Greger Hanson - Greger, who is signed with the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL), was in camp with Oklahoma City (AHL) and played in their preseason game on Saturday as they lost to San Antonio 4-3. Greger along with other familiar names from the CHL (Adam Pleskach, Kevin Noble, and Ty Rimmer) who were in camp with the Barons have been released from their tryout contracts or assigned to an ECHL team.

Brett Lyon (Allen Americans) , Ryley Grantham (Missouri), and Charles Lachance (Tulsa) were all in camp with the Chicago Wolves but have been released. Lyon has now reported to Allen.

Alex Lavoie who signed with the Florida Everblades (ECHL) this summer was in camp with the Norfolk Admirals (AHL) but was released on Saturday and is now going through camp with the Everblades.

Aaron Dell is still in camp with the Worcester Sharks (AHL) and was the winning goalie in one of their preseason games in a 5-4 shoot out thriller. Aaron stopped all three shoot out attempts. His future will also be determined in the next couple of days.

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