While we are all still basking in the glory of a hockey season that ended with a second straight Kelly Cup championship for the Allen Americans it is time for me to say my thanks to all involved. While I will still be posting blogs during the summer when there is news to report, it will no longer be each day.
I sure consider
myself lucky to have started this blog four seasons ago and have all of them end with championships. Who would
have imagined a blog started for the Heritage Ranch Allen Americans fan
club now reaches people all over the US and Canada as well as the hockey
hotbeds in Europe on a daily basis and is about to pass 700,000 pages views. It proves fans of the Allen Americans are all
over the world.
I want to start out by thanking all of
the fans that frequent this blog. It has been my pleasure to meet many
of you and your words of encouragement in person, comments at the end of
each blog, posts on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, and email have been very
satisfying and inspiring. A special thanks to Mary Betz and Ted Hosterman for filling in for me when I go on a trip (or two) during the hockey season. They do a great job.
Thanks to the many fans,
bloggers, and media from all over the league that have promoted the blog
as fair and balanced and also have shared information with me about
their teams. One of the unexpected benefits of writing the blog has been
getting to know all of the broadcasters, writers, bloggers and passionate fans from other teams.
Babik, Director of Communication for the ECHL has once again spent more time with
me this season than I deserved to help educate me about the policies,
rules, and procedures of the ECHL. Joe has gone above and beyond the call
of duty and seems to respond to questions 24 hours a day, seven days a
week. Thanks also to Joe Ernst, Vice President of Hockey Operations, for his willingness to answer all of my questions when he is attending games in Allen and also for compiling information when requested.
you to the players who have never said no to a single request I have
made of them for a chat, an interview or a question. I have gotten to know most of these
young men both professionally and personally and they have represented
the Americans in an outstanding manner.
One of my goals
when I started the blog was to share the personal stories of the
players. The wives/girlfriends, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends I have met
have been great about sharing family stories which I have then been able
to share in the blog. Thanks to all of you.
Steve Martinson and his staff (Tony Curtale, Jason Deitsch, Thomas Speer, Luke Chilcott, Nolan Bowker, Jaime Garcia) for always being willing to talk to me and help educate me. A special
thanks to coach Martinson, for allowing me to stop by his office after every game and every practice to ask questions and
talk about the team. It is his openness and trust that has allowed the
blog to have information you can't find anywhere else.
special thank you to Tommy Daniels, Director of Communications &
Broadcasting for the Allen Americans, who has been a tremendous help to me for four years. He is
the one who
encouraged me to start the blog, made me feel like part of the media
team, answered many questions, let me stop by his office on an almost
daily basis to get current information, publicized the blog to attract
new readership, and invited me to be part of the between periods
conversation on his radio broadcast to talk hockey and promote the blog. Tommy is the best in the business and is always willing to
share his knowledge with others.
Thanks to Tommy's radio sidekick, Maurice Fitzgerald, for all the between periods chats on the radio broadcast. I always describe myself as the between periods fill-in guest when nobody else is available. There are plenty of people around during the playoffs but for those midweek games in October and November I am in high demand. It was a special thrill to be asked to do a Wichita radio broadcast this year with Maurice as we filled in for the voice of the Wichita Thunder, Jason Mals, who was accompanying his daughter to her first father-daughter dance. Maurice did all the heavy lifting as the play by play guy while I did the color commentary. We both became big Wichita fans for just one night.
photographers Lauren Lyssy, Kimberly Sauer and Dianne Webster who work tirelessly to
provide pictures for the blog. You may know I write the blog in the
morning and get up at 4:00 am. Many nights after a game, Dianne, Kimberly and
Lauren are up until 2:00 am to process all of their pictures
and send me their best ones. It sure makes for a better game recap with
their pictures included.
Thanks also to the entire
Team Sin Bin which has welcomed me into their group for the second year and made
it very easy for me to get my stories on their site (thesinbin.net). A
special thanks to Matt Harding (SinBinThunder) and Joe Rozycki
(SinBinMavs) who work their magic every day to post my stories.
most writers, bloggers, and other media types that cover the Americans I
have a dual role as in addition to being a blogger I also coordinate
the activities of the fan club (over 200 members) at Heritage Ranch where I live. In this capacity I
spend a lot of time in the front office of the Americans arranging for
season tickets, suites, individual game tickets, seats for soldiers
tickets, and other promotions. I want to thank the entire sales and
marketing staff and especially Mike Martin and Robert Fatta
who have gone out of their way to help me and the residents of
Heritage Ranch. This group is understaffed and overworked and do a great job given the circumstances they are dealing with, if you know what I mean.
Thanks also to the Ice Angels for all they do to promote the team off the ice and entertain the fans at games. They are the best in the business, led by Ice Angels Director (and mamma bear), Stephanie Di Biase-Wheat.
So a fourth consecutive magical season has come to
an end. I have been a season ticket holder since the beginning so I have
been following the team since its inception but these last four seasons have been
different. I have been able to see the team from a different perspective and
the access given by the entire organization helped me bring the Allen Americans
story to the blog.
With the official celebrations of winning the Kelly Cup complete and the guys already heading out of town, the uncertainty about next year commences. Wendy Ellis, who works for the company that developed the Villages at Allen and Villages at Fairview (MGHerring) does a lot for the team, is a super fan and is the closest thing to a "team mother" says this every year and it captures the sentiment perfectly. "The day after winning the championship is always so
bittersweet. Winning is awesome - so happy for the guys! Saying goodbye
is the hardest day of the season! We will miss these guys and their
families so much. Such a wonderful group. So proud and so grateful we
get to share it with them. We have come to realize how fortunate we are
to get to know the players and their families the way we do and to have
access the way we do."
This will be the last daily blog post for the season. I am having knee replacement surgery in a week so will be laid up for a while. Like so many of the players, I will be rehabbing this summer and hope to come back next season in much better shape. I will still blog on an as
needed basis as new information becomes available. If you are on
Facebook or Twitter you can see whenever there is a new post on the blog
by liking my page on Facebook at "Allen Americans Blog" or following me
on Twitter at @allenamericans1. I will also put any new post up at thesinbin.net which is a great place to get information about all teams
in the ECHL during the off season. Maybe the easiest way to stay in touch is by making allenamericansblog.blogspot.com one of your favorites and checking in once and a while. Remember, it is only 125 days to opening night!
KNOW: For coach Steve Martinson there is an off season but for General Manager Steve Martinson there is never time to relax. Recruitment is something he spends time doing everyday all year around. Talked to GM Martinson yesterday and his first signing for next season will happen next week. June 16 is the first signing day for next season. Another critical date is coming up on June 30. Until June 30 all of the Allen
American player's rights for the ECHL remain with Allen (unless the
are traded) but on June 30th Martinson has to submit to the league a list
no more than eight players he wants to protect. These eight names do
not include players that have already signed. Because only eight players
can be protected there is incentive to get as many players signed by
June 30th as possible. The eight players will be given qualifying offers
which for the most part must be 5% above their salary from last season. The
qualifying offer period is from June 30th to August 1st. The rules are a
little different for players with 39 or fewer games, 40 or more games
and veterans (over 260 games) but in almost all cases the offer must include a 5% salary