Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Boys of Summer - The Plans for the Off Season

I attended the Allen Americans championship celebration rally yesterday afternoon (4:00 pm) which took place outside at the Village At Fairview. Have to admit it was anticlimactic after the excitement of the post game activities at the Allen Event Center following the game on Thursday night. However, it was an opportunity for fans to talk to the players, get pictures and/or autographs and wish the guys well for the summer. My suggestion if this should happen again (drive for five was already being thrown about for next season) is hold this celebration at 6:00 pm when more working folks can attend and the temperature is a few degrees cooler.

For me, the day after the championship celebration always leaves me with a melancholy feeling because it is the last time I will ever see some of the players (and their families) I have gotten to know both personally and professionally during the season. Some will get AHL contracts, some will go overseas, some won't want to return and some won't be invited back. So the celebration is happy and sad at the same time.

From winning the championship to scattering to the winds always happens quickly but this year seems to be quicker than normal. Justin Courtnall has already left, others will be leaving over the weekend and most will be gone next week. 

One factor in players returning to play for Allen next year is salary. When you win a championship everyone feels they deserve a raise but the salary cap for next season goes up a whopping $200 per week from $12400 to $12600. That is about $10 per week per player. Players have to come to Allen for more than an extra few bucks. As coach Martinson says, you can always find a team that will pay you $50-$100 more per week but will you live in a place like Allen and make a deep playoff run with a couple extra months of pay and playoff bonus. When you add up the playoff bonus (over $4000), the extra weeks of pay and the extra months of housing the players don't have to pay it can be over $15,000 for the higher paid married guys.

I had the chance to ask everyone their plans for the summer. Almost everyone pointed out that with playing until June 9 there isn't much of a summer. Many are dealing with injuries and their concentration over the summer will be on rehab. The other trend I noticed this year is how many players plan to spend the majority of the summer in Texas. Maybe a good sign there will be a big core group back for next season.

Here goes the "boys of summer" in their own words:

Rick Pinkston - I will go home (Michigan) for a bit but will also spend time in Texas visiting relatives who have a ranch. I will also spend about a month at school (Dartmouth) as a friend and myself started a company so we will be spearheading that. No vacation plans. This week celebrating the championship will be my vacation. I have never played hockey until June so that would typically be my rest period. I will probably take a week off and then hop back on the ice. For me being on the ice is not work, it is enjoyment. I see it as an escape. Many say skating is like riding a bike but it is not that way for me. If I take a week off I feel like I have to re-teach myself how to skate. I am not a huge golfer but I do like to play roller hockey in the summer. I like to bike a lot and will do a few bike races over the summer. 

Jake Hildebrand - I do a lot of private lessons and goalie camps back home in Pittsburgh where I will spend the summer. I will also do a lot of golfing and fishing. I just bought a new grill and am real excited about becoming a master griller. I think I am taking a vacation to Myrtle Beach in July. It will be a family vacation and is always a lot of fun.

Matt Register - I will spend most of the summer in Minnesota where my wife is from. I plan on playing a lot of golf. I will relax for a while, re-energize my body and then get ready for next year. I will take at least a month off before I start skating again. No vacation plans other than a few weddings we will attend. We will also go back to Canada to visit my family. 

Nolan Bowker (equipment manager) - I will be going to Nashville in a couple of weeks for an equipment conference. Then I plan on going to San Jose for their development camp. I will head home to Vancouver for a couple of weeks to visit and play some baseball. Then I will head back to Allen around the end of August to get ready for training camp. 

Chris Crane - I will be at home in Virginia Beach. I am still in physical therapy after my knee surgery and am trying to get my knee back to where it was before. I am going to have to train much harder than normal this summer just because of this injury. I have another month before I can get back on the ice so I am really going to focus on training and getting ready for next season. I live on the ocean so it is kind of a vacation everyday. 

Spencer Asuchak - I am going back to Kamloops for the summer to train and spend time with my family and friends. I will play some ball and also golf. My best friend is flying to Dallas the end of the month and we are driving home through California. We will take a week or so to get home stopping wherever we want on the way. We will pretend we are beach bums for a couple of weeks. 

Jordan Rowley - I will be heading home (Edmonton)  and will take a week off and then start training for next season. I am not sure yet what my plans are for next season. It is possible I will be playing overseas and that would make for a very short summer as they start early. The time I do have at home will be devoted to training and lots of golf. 

Danny Federico - I will be heading back home to Massachusetts for the summer. As soon as I heal up I will start working out to get ready for next season. My vacation will be my honeymoon in August when we will go to Aruba. I play in a summer hockey league with all of the guys I train with.

Greger Hanson - I will be spending most of the summer in Allen. Andrea and I will visit her family in Michigan, then go to Sweden to visit my family. We will spend some time in London as well but other than that we will be in Texas. Andrea (she just graduated from law school) in pursuing a job in Dallas.

Tristan King - My wife and I will be traveling here and there to visit family but we will be staying in Texas for the summer. I will take some time off to recover from the season before I start lifting weights. I won't start skating again until August. I like to fish and may try to hook up with Gill and Gens in Minnesota. I am not a fanatic fisherman like them but I do like to fish. 

Kyle Neuber - I work at the University of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario) during the summer running kids camps. My parents just went to Italy and I was supposed to go but couldn't because of the playoffs. That was supposed to be my summer vacation. I have no injuries and am not banged up so I will take a week off and start training for next season. With the camps, I am on the ice everyday so that helps. I enjoy golfing with my parents in the summer so look forward to that.

Nikita Jevpalovs - I will be going home to Latvia for a short time and then head to Canada where I will train for next season. When I am at home my favorite things to do is sleep and play soccer. 

Thomas Carr - I will be heading home (Edmonton) for the summer. I will be building a deck on my home, getting my lawn put in and playing golf everyday. I will go on vacation somewhere with my girlfriend. Probably to one of those all inclusive resorts in Mexico. Then I will head home and go to work getting ready for next season. 

Casey Pierro-Zabotel - We will be headed back to Canada, probably leaving Wednesday, and await the birth of our child. I will be training and playing a lot of baseball. Most likely no vacation this summer with the new baby. 

Eric Roy - I am heading home for a quick visit but then I am going to the Columbus Blue Jackets development camp later this month. I will take a couple of days off to spend time with the family but then get right back in the gym. After the development camp I will spend time at the lake with family and friends. I will do a lot of fishing. 

Jaime Garcia (trainer) - I will be here in Allen over the summer. I will work at Ortho Texas and will be watching over the guys that are rehabbing back in their hometowns. We do weekly and sometimes daily check-ins with them. Personally, I am still doing rehabilitation on a torn hamstring I suffered so I am working on that. I love to go up in the mountains and hike and camp. I like to paddle board and also trail running. I have an aunt and uncle in Austin so will visit them. 

David Makowski - I will be heading back home to St. Louis for the summer. I will stick around Allen for a little bit and then head home next week. I will start my rehab on my hand and get ready for next season. Last summer I went to Hong Kong, Singapore and Bali but with my injury and needing to do rehab I will most likely not take a vacation this summer. With a hand injury I can't do anything with a stick for a while but the good thing is I can skate and focus on my lower body. I will need to find a new hobby for the summer since I won't be able to golf. I will probably do a lot more fishing. 

Joel Rumpel - I will be spending the summer back at the University of Wisconsin in Madison training with a bunch of guys. Some NHL guys like Joe Pavelski, Brian Elliott and Adam Burish all own homes there so it is a good training environment. Since we played so long this season, the only time away from training will be to go back home to Canada to visit family. I am a big golf fan. I am playing in a charity golf tournament in Wisconsin on Thursday and have a charity hockey game on Saturday in Madison that a lot of NHL guys come back to play in. 

Dyson Stevenson - I will be headed home to Saskatchewan for the summer. I will be rehabbing my shoulder injury and getting ready for next season. I will be helping my dad and grandfather on the farm and also hope to do some fishing. My dad and I are looking to get a boat. I normally play a lot of softball but my injury will prevent that. I am helping put on a charity softball tournament that takes place next week.

Aaron Gens - I am going to Minnesota on Thursday as I am doing a hockey camp. If we have to move out of our apartment I will come right back to Texas but if not I will go home (Baudette, MN) and fish for a week. I have an internship that will start here in Texas in early July. 

Riley Gill - We just bought a house here in Texas so we will move our stuff on Monday and then Thursday we will head to Minnesota for a visit with family and to do some fishing. I am the player representative for the team so we will be going to Orlando from June 20-25 for the PHPA (Professional Hockey Players Association) annual meeting. We will then spend a couple of weeks at our cabin in Wisconsin and then head back to Allen early July. We have a wedding to attend in the Outer Banks of North Carolina the end of August so that will be our vacation. 

Vincent Arseneau - I will head home to Quebec for the summer and that is a vacation for me. I plan on doing a lot of fishing while at home. I will take about a month off to rest my body and then start getting ready for next season. My routine is to play golf in the morning and workout after golf. Then I can fish in the afternoon. 

J. P. LaFontaine - Honestly I have no idea at this point. I hope to get back to Minnesota soon. I also need to spend time with my grandpa because he is not doing the greatest. He is in Michigan so I will visit with him. He has the best house ever, right on a lake so I visit him every summer. I will fish almost everyday when I am with my grandpa. 

Chad Costello - Our plan is to stay in the Allen area for the summer. We will go home to Iowa for a week or so. Me and Gens have an internship that will start in July and hopefully I will be here again next year. I like to golf in the summer and will spend time at the pool with the kids and playing baseball with the oldest. I will take two or three weeks off to rest my body and then start biking. I don't like to stay off the ice too long so will start skating in about a month. 

Gary Steffes - I will be working full time for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and will be traveling around the US coaching hockey and telling people about Jesus. My schedule already has me going to Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, Utah and then I will travel home to Michigan to see the family. I get to play with kids and play with pucks all summer so it is a blessing and I just love it. I will also be attending an event in Chicago called the "Global Leadership Summit" which my mom gave me as a birthday gift. My dad an I will also go on a kayaking trip while I am in Michigan. 

DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is a five year agreement with next season (2016-17) being year number four. There are escalator clauses that call for increases in each year of the agreement but they are small increases. For next season the salary cap increases $200 per week to $12,600. The maximum a rookie (fewer than 25 games) can be paid goes up $10 per week to $530. The minimum salary for rookies increases $15 per week to $445. The minimum salary for non-rookies increases $20 to $500 per week. There is no maximum salary for non-rookies as long as the team stays under the salary cap. Per diem when on the road increases $2 per day to $42.


  1. Great stuff, I wish the guys a great summer.

  2. I hope Costello and Steffes come back next season