Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Possible Aeros Radio Moves

I know after the discussion with Joe O'Donnell that some of you were worried about the Aeros' games being on the radio this upcoming season. I can't give specifics yet, but I have learned from two different sources that the Aeros, as well as being in discussions to return to 1070, are also in discussions with 1560 The Game.

Personally, I'm pulling for the games to end up on 1560 as not only would I no longer have to listen to commercials for programming that makes Sean Hannity sound sane, but I really think it would really be better for the Aeros to be on a sports station that would be able to provide them a better platform to appeal to sports fans.

(And for those concerned about 1560's weak signal, they are just awaiting approval from the FCC to use a new signal that will match up with 740s.)

Trouble for Manchester Monarchs Beatwriter

Here is what you need to know: A veteran New Hampshire Union Leader sportswriter (Kevin Provencher) faces two felony charges of deriving income from prostitution.

And here is where you can find more info about it.

What's in YOUR closet?

Some Comments From Jamie Spencer -- VP of Business Operations

With everything that’s been going on with the Aeros the past several weeks, we’ve been trying to take some time to talk to various people associated with the team. Since I’ve built up some relationships with the people on the business side, that’s who I’ve been talking to. They can’t give a lot of information on what’s happening hockey wise, but I thought you might like some information on what they want to do for the game experience once the season starts.

So here’s some information that I got from Jamie Spencer who is the Aeros Vice President of Business Operations.

Let’s start with one of the biggest complaints: the lack of replays on weeknight games. Spencer says the team would like very much to have replays for every game, and that he will be meeting with the people who run Toyota Center in a few weeks to discuss several matters for this season, including replays.

“I remember that from my first game. I looked up and there were no replays,” Spencer said. “But like everything else, we’re trying to run a solid business, and everything cost money so we’re trying to assess where we spend our dollars.”

Another issue that’s being assessed is if, and the number of, games that will be shown on television this season. “We’d love to have every game on TV if we could,” he said. “What we need to do there is do a better of job of sponsorship in order to move the needle and get some TV games and some exposure….that’s something we’re assessing right now, to decide if it’s worth it and how many games that would mean, because exposure is something that we’re really working on.”

Spencer loves the fans in Houston and thinks that the team has a great core for a fan base: “I see some very passionate fans in Houston that remind me of the season ticket holders here in Minnesota,” he said. But he wants to expand this fan base and they are exploring ways to make this happen.

The team wants to focus on improving the fan experience this season, and once the schedule is released, they’re going to get down to figuring out all of the promotions for the season. Returning promotions will probably include Chilipalooza, Guns-and-Hoses, Military Night, and so on. And Bikini Night will definitely be back.

“I know the Bikini Contest has become a fan favorite,” Spencer said. “The thing in Houston is we want to keep an affordable family atmosphere, we also want to have some fun with it, too. The weekends and weeknights are different there, as you’ve seen. We really try to put a good mix of promotions together that appeal to a wide audience.”

The team is also looking at adding Ice Girls to the mix to go with the Aero Dynamics. But he’s not sure if the Ice Girls would come from within the Dynamics, or be a different squad.

Spencer is aware that there are fans here in Houston who are upset about some of the changes that have occurred with the team’s roster and staff. And while he’s not on hockey side of the operation, he did have some comments.

“The big thing [with the Aeros] is that we’re trying to develop players that can move up to the Minnesota team,” he said. “The players that have moved up here, many have contributed. It seems like each year we get guys who become everyday NHL players. Development is a huge part of that.”

[SNIP]

“It’s really hard for me to answer this because I don’t make the roster decisions,” he continued. “The only thing I can say is that we are continuing to want to win in Houston.…we made offers to everybody we could. Some of these guys after having successful seasons, they get more money going other places or are more marketable now….It’s not that we didn’t want to sign them, it’s that they’re getting more money to go to other places.”

And Chuck Fletcher and Jim Mill “want to make sure that [Wild coach] Todd Richards is comfortable with anybody we sign. If needed, and someone gets called up, that Todd would be comfortable putting them in the system. And when you change your system, you probably change rosters more than normal.”

[SNIP]

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a fresh look. Some fans might get nervous about that, and other fans get excited -- and I hope that they’re getting excited because there’s been a lot of change. Specifically on the hockey side of our business. And that isn’t a bad thing….so I think this new group is going to bring a different look and a different feel, and it make some time for the fans to understand what that means.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ladies, one last Matt Beaudoin...

Joe O'Donnell posted what is probably his last interview with Beauds as an Aero. I wish I could say that he looks awful and we won't miss him, but you'd see for yourself that I'm lying like rug.

And just to twist the knife, they're discussing the charity work some of the guys did at Memorial Hermann. Nothing like your favorite hockey hunk helping little kids. Dear Lord.

Anyway, go check it out.

UDPATE: I had trouble getting to the video, as well. Try this link. [John]



Photo by Fred Trask

See, we all make mistakes. Just laugh.

What is wrong with this caption on the picture at the end of this post?
(Hint, check behind the left skate...)

I included a .jpeg (below), and here is the link. But the Admirals are sure to correct this before too long. I hope. There is a bigger version of the picture on the Web ... if it is still there. For some reason, this is the best I could do, resolution wise, on this blog.

Enjoy

NHL May Accept Reinsdorf, But That Means Nothing To The Court

For those of you wondering about what the NHL's action of approving Jerry Reinsdorf's bid to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes means, I provide as a simple an answer as possible: NOTHING.

The NHL has no say in this matter anymore. It's all up to the bankruptcy judge. And if the bankruptcy judge doesn't like Reinsdorf's bid, then it doesn't matter a bit what the NHL wants. The judge will consider the bids next week. There is, technically, only one bid for the judge to consider, and that's Reinsdorf's bid which doesn't even involve any money -- it's just Reinsdorf assuming the debts and promising to pay back the creditors at some point. The so-called second bid from another Canadian group was nothing more than a letter of intent to make a financial bid at an unspecified time in the future. The Court was quite clear that the it wanted bids, but it's possible that the judge will also consider this as a bid and take this into account at the auction next week.

It's quite possible -- I really wouldn't rule it out because there's never no telling what will happen in bankruptcy court -- that next week the judge will accept Reinsdorf's bid. But he will accept or reject the bid on the basis of what's actually included in the bid, not on the basis of what the NHL decided on yesterday. The judge has already indicated in the past that he thinks the NHL is full of it, so it's quite possible the NHL decision could harm the chances of the team staying in Phoenix past this upcoming season.

Like I said, it's possible the judge will rule in the NHL's favor and give the team to Jerry Reinsdorf. Personally, I doubt it as bankruptcy judges don't like being bossed around by parties that have no role in the proceedings. But we're not going to no until next week.

Former Aero Makes Good, Really Good

I can't believe we missed this, as we do try and make an effort to follow Houston Aeros alumni, but miss this we did. Former Aeros player Mike Yeo has been on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the past three seasons, which means he was part of the the recent Penguins Stanley Cup coaching staff.

And that means he got to have the Cup for a day. And here's what he did with it. Congrats, Mike.

Moderation Is Now On

Okay, we tried to play nice. We laid out commenting rules to be followed last week. And we think we've still had a pretty good free flow of information, comments, etc. But we've had some nasty stuff posted tonight, and every time we deleted the comment -- as we said we would -- it was reposted. And since none of us wanted to stay up all night handling this matter, we've turned on the moderation feature.

If this works properly, that means that nothing goes up in the comments until one of us approves it. Sorry, but somebody decided to abuse the commenting privilege. We're having a group meeting this weekend and we'll discuss how to handle this, but for now, it's moderation. And I apologize.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cool off and help a great cause

Friendly reminder to head up to the Aerodrome in Willowbrook (north of 1960 on Hwy 249) and check out the STARSkaters fundraiser going on beginning at 3:40 p.m. Saturday, Aug 1.

For a mere $10 (including skate rental), you can skate, hang out in supremely air-conditioned comfort, maybe win some really awesome raffle prizes (no joke, there's some really cool stuff), and learn about all the amazing work STARSkaters does to get people out on the ice who might not otherwise get to experience that joy.

And it is, in fact, a very joyful thing to ice skate. So if you've always wanted to try, they're even doing lessons as part of your entrance fee. What better time to learn? Like I told myself I when I started learning to skate, "Hey, you aren't getting any younger." ;)

You can even try out skating on one of the sleds. Fun fact I learned from one of my favorite hockey writers, Justin Bourne, whose brother Jeff is a sled player, that the goalies have SPIKES (okay, he called 'em picks, but I'm calling them SPIKES) on their glove and blocker to help them move. Fierce!

There's a sled exhibition game at 5:50 after they cut the ice (so, a little off-season zamboni action!), which will be fun to watch and I know the players will appreciate having a crowd cheering them, so don't leave when you're done skating!

What's not to love? Cool off, do something cheap and good for the skating and hockey community in Houston, maybe win some stuff, definitely learn some things, and watch some hockey!

Oh, and Chilly will be there, too, if you like that sort of thing.

Here's the Facebook page for the event and here's a PDF with ALL the details.

A Discussion With Joe O'Donnell

I spent some time yesterday with Aeros play-by-play guy Joe O'Donnell -- you can read a profile of Joe over at the mothership if you want to give it a look. (Remember, the more that you click and read over there the more willing the editors are to allow more hockey coverage.) But besides my Houston Press duties, I spent some time with Joe discussing the off-season, some of the changes, and the upcoming season. There's a lot of off-the-record stuff I can't share, but I thought you might enjoy reading some of Joe's thoughts.

You might not like or agree with everything he says, but unlike myself -- and most of us -- he spends a lot of time talking to Kevin Constantine and Troy Ward during the off-season.

JOE O'DONNELL ON THIS UPCOMING SEASON AND THE CHANGES TO THE TEAM:

"If I may, I would like to give a disclaimer to the fan base: everything will be fine in Houston this season in my opinion. Now if it’s December and the team’s not playing well, email me and remind me about this. But in my estimation, this team will be fine.

"The Minnesota Wild put a lot of stock in what the Aeros mean as far as being a piece of the organization. On the roster right now…I think defensively, there have already been upgrades. There’s going to be some guys on the Aeros who are borderline Wild guys -- Clayton Stoner, Jamie Sifers, etc. There’s a good chance there will be eight defenseman in Houston who are going to be legit. That are going to be fighting for ice time. Max Noreau and Justin Falk could be your five/six. That’s pretty darn good. And I talked to Troy Ward about this in the last week, and he’s really excited about the defense as well.

"Goalteanding. You know what you’ve got. If [Wade] Dublielewicz is here, awesome. If not, Brust and Khudobin are certainly capable of winning you games. They’ve proven that.

"Offensively. Are you losing some pieces of the puzzle from last year, sure. But there’s a lot more that goes into it than just putting up points. There’s certain roles that guys didn’t play last year that maybe new guys will fall into this year. You’re still going to have your hard working guys, your Danny Irmen’s, etc that’ll most likely be here. If a [Benoit] Pouliot or a [Colton] Gillies ends up down here, then this team’s going to be good, they’re going to be real good again, and the division’s going to be better."

*********************
"If there’s a fan that’s upset about losing players like Locke, Kolanos, etc. I get that. I’m sad to see those guys go. And I know the coaching staff would love to have a Matt Beaudoin back again, or Marco Rosa. Those are big pieces to lose. But there will be guys to come and fill those shoes or take on a different role and this team will take on a different style and have a different identity."

JOE O'DONNELL ON THE NEW DIVISIONAL ALIGNMENT:

"I expect Austin to be good. And we’re going to see Matt Climie a lot, and we all know about him. Austin’s going to be no slouch. San Antonio’s going to have a better year. They essentially have to….The Aeros are built defensively right now. They’re built from their blue line out, which is a good start to the summer. Plus the Wild have cap room. And they’ve got some trade bait.

"I think the Aeros will certainly benefit this year from having an easier travel schedule. A better schedule as a whole. There’s no way they’ll have 15 three-in-three’s again….I think the schedule and Austin coming in is great. I know as an organization we really want to play off the Austin/San Antonio rivalry for years to come. And hopefully the fans will buy into that…I think it will make for a great West Division this year."

JOE O'DONNELL ON THE COACHING STAFF:
"[Kevin Constantine last season] was interesting to work with. Just such an unique hockey brain, such an unique person. The stuff he looks at, I’ve never heard any other coaches look at. The stuff he talks about, the way he tries to see what players are thinking and feeling, that stuff is very unique to him. I also learned with KC to pick my spots. He’s very driven hockey wise so there are times when I just know it’s not a good time to go B.S. with the coach or go ask for an interview. But there are also other times when Kevin Constantine is your normal guy, he’s an awesome guy, and he has fun….his brain is just always hockey oriented.

"Troy Ward is a consummate professional who really knows the game and works tirelessly. And Luke Strand is awesome as well….I know the coaching staff will miss him a lot."

JOE O'DONNELL ON HIS BROADCASTS AND HIS INTERNET PEEPS:

"Hockey was my passion and that was what I wanted to do from the time I was a freshman.

"It’s hard to call a baseball game because there’s so much down time and dead air, [but hockey] comes naturally…with my style, it flows...if I see something I just try to describe it…I’ve just learned that you can’t get everything [happening on the ice] out and you’ve just got to stay with your thought….

"I’ve always been objective. I don’t know where that came from, but I pretty much told myself from game one when I got into this business that I wasn’t going to be a homer. I’m passionate about the team I work for. Sure I want them to win. Sure somewhere deep down inside I’m pulling for them, but to me, there’s nothing worse than a guy who doesn’t tell you what’s going on and just tells you one side of the story. With my style, with my call. I’m going to be passionate, and you’re going to know I’m working for the Aeros, but you’re also going to know when the Aeros aren’t playing well, or when it’s time to give credit to the other team.

"It was tough [coming in at the last minute and having to learn the team, the league, and the players]….It was difficult. It felt for me like the first ten games I was trying to find my game. And I kind new that the start of the year took a handful of games to get back into it, it’s like everything else. But when I hit the 10th game, when that 10th game ended, I kind of proclaimed to myself that I was ready. That I was finally caught up to the speed of the game, that I knew the Aeros well enough to talk about them confidently, and now all I had to do was focus on the other team."

***********************
"What I’ve been trying to do…is I try to talk to both coaches before every game and get a thought or two or a key to the game from both sides, whether it’s a player or whoever. And I try to mix that stuff in more than I try to mix in stuff about a guy’s family or whether he has a sense of humor….I try to get what is the objective for this team for this game.

"I was trained from the best. I say that because my board operator in Boise would talk to me non-stop during the game. He would sing in the studio. He was a fan. So if we were down 4-1 in the third period, I would be listening to him gripe about the team while I’m calling the game, so I learned to block it out. You’re in a broadcast booth by yourself sometimes for five hours between preparing and breaking down the post game show and the broadcast. If it’s not going to be fun, then why are you doing it. So that’s why you’ll hear me talking to my internet peeps…I hope that they find the broadcasts enjoyable. Shoot me an email during the game, I’ll respond to it.

"It’s a blast. I love what I do."

JOE O'DONNELL REGARDING THE AEROS ON THE RADIO:

[The Aeros are currently without a radio broadcaster.]

"Our deal with KNTH was a one-year deal. We’re currently in the process of exploring some options. We’re going to talk KNTH again. We’re going to talk to some sports stations in the area. We’re going to do our homework, and we’re going to try and find a radio partner that fits best for us and essentially our fan base. Someone that wants to be partnered with us. That’s going to promote us, and somebody we can get some exposure for."

Wild re-signs Josh Harding to a one-year deal

Many folks thought that if Harding were to be traded during the offseason, they would do it before arbitration. Well, he signed a one-year deal today prior to the hearing.

I could be wrong, but my guess now is he remains with the Wild as their No. 2 (for now). The Aeros would then end up with Wade Dubielewicz as the No. 1, Barry Brust as the No. 2 and Anton Khudobin will either head to Russia (just kidding) or end up minding the nets for a CHL team in Texas.

He is, I think (and as I clarify here after an original post) going to get traded this season. But now, to me, as to when just got a little murkier. I really like the deal I keep hearing that involves some Chicago Forward named Patrick Sharp and Corey Crawford, who would then create a nice backup war with Dubielewicz for the No. 2 job with the Wild. My take is CHI does not deal Sharp ... and Harding ends up in the Eastern Conference somewhere.


From the Minnesota Wild media relations team:

MINNESOTA WILD RE-SIGNS GOALTENDER JOSH HARDING
SAINT PAUL/MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher announced today the National Hockey League (NHL) team has agreed to terms with goaltender Josh Harding on a one-year contract prior to today’s scheduled arbitration hearing in Toronto, Ontario.
Harding, 25 (6/18/84), appeared in 19 games – 11 starts – with the Wild in 2008-09, going 3-9-1 with a 2.21 GAA and .929 SV Pct. The 6-foot-1, 197-pound native of Regina, Sask., has appeared in 58 NHL games making 43 starts for Minnesota in parts of four seasons, going 19-27-4 with a 2.49 GAA, a .920 SV% and three career shutouts. Harding was Minnesota’s second-round pick (No. 38 overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's official - More to "Love" in Peoria

As we first reported nearly two weeks ago, Mitch Love (pictured as No. 6 left), who led the AHL in fighting majors last year (34), has agreed to terms with the Peoria Rivermen. This story by the Journal-Star's Dave Eminian (speaking of which, we need to add his blog "Cleve's World" to our list.

(And Eminian really did his research here ... "Love’s 34 fights were the most by any player in any professional hockey league in 2008-09 (not counting a semi-pro men’s league in Quebec), including North America, Russia and other European leagues.")

No matter who the Aeros sign (or if Kassian decides to fight more this year) to take on the official role of enforcer, there is only one thing he will be able to do to be more entertaining than Love was when he was at his best ... And that is score a couple of goals on a night where he dusts off some other AHL scum in front of a rockin' crowd at Toyota Center.

Love, while not quite as dominating as the infamous Derek Boogaard was in bomber gear, certainly held more than his own and he and his lovely girlfriend will be missed in Houston.

I cannot wait to get the AHL schedule. Who do you think the crowd will cheer for when he drops the gloves in Houston this season?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Part 2 of Aeros GM Jim Mill

Joe O'Donnell released Part II of his discussion withAeros new GM Jim Mill today. I'm sure this is gonna go over really well right now. :)

Thunder Bay Rampage?

It was revealed this week in the plans of one of the potential buyers of the Phoenix Coyotes that these buyers will move Phoenix's farm team, Aeros I-10 rival San Antonio Rampage, to Thunder Bay, Ontario, if they win the bid to buy the team.

Here's an excellent article explaining both the investor's plan for the move, which requires building a new arena in Thunder Bay, and the investor's overall plan for making Phoenix profitable.

As for what would happen to the Rampage, I think next summer is going to see a significant shuffling of the deck in the AHL affiliate structure. The Ducks need an affiliate. The Stars need a franchise to buy. The Oilers have a dormant franchise but an affiliation with Springfield. Eventually all these oddities are going to need to shake out, and hopefully SA will get a new affiliation with a team (oh, how much more fun would it be to hate them if they were the Ducks affiliate?) and the bitter rivalry will live on for many more years.

As usual, we'll keep you posted as this develops.

Paul Albers signs with Nuremberg Ice Tigers

Got a tweet this morning that Paul Albers, my favorite fearless shot blocker, has signed with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers in Germany. Paul was an RFA heading into free agency but was not given a qualifying offer by the Wild.

Photo by Fred Trask

Here's sort of a clumsy-but-funny translation from the original German on the Ice Tigers site:
The 23-jährigen defenders Paul Albers of the Houston Aeros from the American Hockey League (AHL) obligated Thomas Sabo Ice of tiger. It receives an in annual contract.

The 1,86m large and 86kg heavy Canadians created 2007 the leap from the ECHL to the Aeros, the farm team of the NHL team Minnesota game. In the AHL completed it altogether 163 plays and can a balance of 9 gates and 24 Assists exhibit. Before it was with the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League (WHL) the second-best Scorer of its team and belonged to the all star team of the Memorial Cups, the final round of the WHL.

Albers looks forward to the new challenge in Nuremberg: „I wanted to come to one time in my career in any case once to Europe. The fact that it folded this year already is the better. The DEL belonged to the best leagues of Europe and already brought some good players out. I am sure me that the larger ice surface of my fast play way and concomitantly my passport play will come to meet. “

Ice tiger manager Lorenz radio is glad that Albers decided for a change to Germany: „Paul Albers is considered as very talentiert and is with security a player for the future. “

Anyway, congrats to Paul. Sounds like an exciting adventure!
--------------------

BTW, totally off topic, but as I was looking for a photo of Paul to put in this post, I was combing through Fred's shots. Man, it really brings back some fun memories. Next time you've got an hour and are having a fit of hockey season nostalgia, click the Photos link in the Top Topics section of the right-hand column. You won't regret it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Few Comments On The Past Few Days

We've been reading the comments to the last several posts, and we thought there were a few items that you guys have mentioned and discussed that should be addressed in a post. So I got the assignment. And note, for the most part, what you are about to get are my opinions, and my opinions only. We are in agreement on some of the things I write, and there is also much disagreement over some of what I write.

That said...

The decision to fire Jerry Meins did not come from the people in Houston. It specifically did not come from the business staff or from any of the people who were hired or used to work for Tom Garrity in Houston. This decision was made in Minnesota, and it was made by the hockey people, not the business people.

That said, I am as angry about the decision as you are. One person left a comment talking about how wrong this decision was, but how this kind of thing happens in sports all of the time. And that person was right. Still, I think Jerry Meins has done a great job with this team, and to the best of my knowledge there is nothing in regards to his work that caused this action. I am particularly angry about the way the move was made, which was Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher calling Meins, with Fletcher in Minnesota and Meins in Houston, to tell him the news. Meins' position with the team, as well as his time spent with the team, means to me that he deserved to have this action take place face-to-face.

But in the end, Fletcher has the right to have his own people here in Houston assisting with his operation. Fletcher's job is to do what he thinks is right for the Minnesota Wild, not what he thinks will keep the people in Houston happy. The Aeros are, after all, a minor league team owned by the Minnesota Wild, and the purpose of the Aeros is to make ready players to promote to the Wild. If the Aeros win, that's fine, but it's secondary to assisting the Wild -- thus despite the Aeros fighting for a playoff spot, it's more important to the Wild that Krys Kolanos and Anton Khudobin sit in the press box with the Wild because of potential injury problems.

With that in mind, I note that many of you are angry over the Wild's treatment of the Aeros roster, and many of you think that there was not effort made to retain last season's playoff club. I'm upset about some of the moves, as well, particularly Mitch Love and Nolan Schaefer. But hear this: the club did want to retain Corey Locke and Marco Rosa, and they made offers to them. It's just that those two guys received incredible offers from the New York Rangers and Manitoba Moose that the Wild were just not in a position to match. Rosa's contract in particular, from what I hear, was rather hard for the team to match as an AHL-only contract. And as Andrew has written, Kolanos had worn out his welcome with the club.

As for players like Love and Schaefer, I can't offer much beyond the fact that, with regards to the goalies, Barry Brust and Anton Khudobin are signed to contracts for this season, and both have proven that they can play goalie at this level. And as much as I want Love and Tony Hrkac and Matt Beaudoin back this season, my desires, and the desires are the fans are of secondary concern to Fletcher and his assistant, Jim Mill. Their concern should be what is best for the Minnesota Wild organization, and if they don't think those guys fit into what they have in mind for the organization, or with the type of hockey that they want to play, then they are under no obligation to sign them to a contract and bring them back to the team. They have been busy with signing guys to contracts, and we have to work under the assumption that Fletcher thinks these guys are what he has in mind for the new style of play of the Wild.

Now with that said, I'm going to address the comments about the business side of the Aeros.

Many of you were upset that we got a quote from Courtney Eidman regarding Jerry Meins. I'm sorry that you don't like that, but frankly, I don't give a damn. She was the proper person in the Aeros chain of command for this matter. In the past, we would have contacted Patrick Armstrong or Scott Henninger, but both have left the club and their replacement will not be arriving until next week. I'm sure we could have waited to talk with the new Director of Communications or Communications Manager, but then many of you would have probably been angry at us for not talking with the Aeros right away.

Some of you have also said that Eidman, the mysterious Senior V.P. -- which has me thinking of this guy -- and other people who were associated with Tom Garrity are responsible for many of the bad things that are happening with the club. And you might be right about that. I deal with the media guys, game ops people, and Joe O'Donnell. I don't deal with the people that you season ticket holders deal with, and they don't get my money -- I'm comped, sorry. So for all I know, many of you are right in some of the things that you say. But...

The lack of media attention this team gets isn't because of anything "the three blind mice on Lamar" have done. The lack of television media attention is because local sports don't get much attention on local news as they used to -- you can thank ESPN for that. It's generally the last segment of the news, right before Letterman. And local television media is always going to concentrate on the big three of the Astros, Texans, and Rockets, before any other team. Look how much attention the Cougars and Owls get, which is just barely more than the Aeros, and both of their football teams went to bowl games last season. It's just the nature of the media. And do you really want the radio talk show guys trying to talk hockey? Those guys have enough difficulty with making coherent arguments about baseball, basketball, and football. Do you really want to hear what they'll say about hockey?

That said, you are now getting much more media attention on the Aeros than you were three years ago. Andrew's in the Chron. I'm on HoustonPress.com Heather writes about the team at Pro Hockey News Daily. Then there's our group project here with Fred, that we call T3I. And I think that we're giving the Aeros better, more comprehensive, more factual, more entertaining, more objective, and more analytical coverage than any sports team in the city of Houston is getting. So in away, you guys should feel blessed. The Aeros will never return to the days of the 90s when the Aeros were treated as a major league team. First, the Aeros aren't a major league team. Second, back in those days, the Oilers had deserted the team, baseball was coming off the cancellation of a season and a World Series, and the Rockets were on their way into suckitude.

And speaking of the "three blind mice," I should also point out that virtually nobody in this position with a sports team has a background of playing the sport -- some of you have complained that they don't have any hockey background. Pam Gardner with the Astros never played baseball. Most of the business people with the Texans have never played football. Neither have most of the communications people. So I fail to see what their lack of so-called knowledge of hockey has to do with their jobs. For instance, I never played hockey, so I should probably never write about it. And I'm pretty sure that most of the major complaints that ticket holders have result from decisions made in St. Paul, not in Houston -- well, okay, I'm sure the horrible anthem decisions are made in Houston, as are the six choirs a night that all perform "God Bless America."

I've gone on way too long, and many of you are probably mad at me, but remember, this is me, not Andrew, Heather, or Fred. I hated what was done to Jerry Meins. I hated the way it was done -- I lost my job back in March and I'm still unemployed, so I'm more pissed about this than many of you know. But in the end, it's the Wild's right to do what they want. Same with player decisions. The Wild have to be more concerned with getting guys they think can play in their system than they need to be concerned with us here in Houston. I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying that this is the way it goes when you are fans of a minor league team.

I apologize for anything that might have angered you guys. But we felt these issues should be discussed. And this is what I think. I see my job as trying to provide an objective view of what is going on with the Aeros. And I believe I have done that. And I believe that I will continue to do that. So I guess that all I can say is fire away.

An Update on the Phoenix Coyotes Situation

Toward the end of last season, I spent a lot of time on the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy situation. Things have been kind of quiet recently as the bankruptcy proceedings have been ongoing. Well yesterday was the deadline for prospective owners to submit bids for the franchise to the Phoenix bankruptcy judge. These are the bids that would go to keeping the club based in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, and the auction is set for August 5th.

Only one bid was submitted for the franchise. Jerry Reinsdorf, as expected, submitted the only legitimate bid. But the seriousness of this bid is somewhat questionable to me. The bid is only for about $148 million. There will be no cash exchanged, and will consist of Reinsdorf assuming the team's debts. The deal is also contingent upon Reinsdorf achieving huge concessions from the city of Glendale regarding the use of Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, and it is also contingent upon concessions from the creditors. Also, Jerry Moyes, the current owner of the team, would not receive much from Reinsdorf.

I've been surprised by the judge's actions in this case in the past, but I just can't see the judge accepting this bid, not when Jim Balsillie has already offered up $215.5 million in a bid that would actually provide the creditors with real funds and not require any concessions on their part. I know if I were a creditor I would want the real cash, not some other sucker coming in and taking over the debts with the pledge to pay them off later. And under the Balsillie bid, Moyes would actually receive money for his share of the franchise.

I know the NHL thinks it's above the rules, but the role of the bankruptcy judge is to set whole the creditors, not to make the NHL happy. And you would think that the NHL would have done everything possible to make sure an actual bid with actual money was offered. This just serves to prove Moyes contention back when he filed for bankruptcy that he couldn't find any buyers fo for the team so he was left with no choice but to go into bankruptcy and accept Balsillie's bid.

If the judge doesn't accept this bid, new bids will be accepted from people seeking to move the team out of Phoenix, including Balsillie. And that auction would be held in September. So no matter what, I think the Coyotes will be playing in Phoenix this season.

Along with the Reinsdorf bid, a letter of intent was filed which stated that a real bid would be following at a later date. I honestly don't see the judge accepting this because it's not an actual bid, and the rules set forth by the judge were rather clear and easy to understand.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Jerry Meins Terminated -- CONFIRMED & UPDATED

Word is filtering down to us that Jerry Meins, the Aeros long time trainer, and one of the original team employees, has been dismissed from his position with the Aeros. We're working on further confirmation of this -- we don't want another incident like with the scheduling from the day before. But I thought we should go ahead and get this out there.

UDPATE: We have confirmed this.

FURTHER UPDATE (8:04):

Andrew was able to get some comments from Jerry Meins and from the Aeros:

Jerry Meins: "I got the call this morning, and (Wild GM) Chuck (Fletcher) said I was being relieved of my duties," said Meins. "I sure will miss doing the job, and would like to thank the Aeros and especially the fans for 15 of the best years of my career.

"I will truly miss going to the rink every day."

From Courtney Eidman, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Aeros: "Of course we thank Jerry for his years of service...We wish him the best of luck."

As for the reasons for Meins' dismissal, Eidman said: "We do not have any additional comments right now."

Meins was the only remaining member from the original IHL incarnation of the Aeros, and had served with the team for 15 seasons. Meins and his wife have lived in Houston since 1974 when he was the head trainer for the Houston Oilers.

Feel free to post what you like, but remember our new commenting rules. Let's try and keep it somewhat civil.

Won't Get Fooled Again

As requested by Rob, here's a video to help deal with today's Aeros news.

The Who with "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Some thoughts from the Pens side on Smith and Lannon

Penguins Insider blog covers the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Always nice to get a little perspective on players from the teams they used to play for. Sounds like both are well liked.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zingoni Article

Here's a nice article about the recently signed and newly wed (congrats!) Pete Zingoni.

Preds use Joel Ward to sell season tickets

Remember this guy? Joel Ward (pictured left in the shot below) was never described anything other than a hard-worker and a great teammate;
One of my all-time favorite Aeros ...

And who could forget Halloween 2006? That might have been the only good thing that year about the West Division whipping boy. Costumes were great that year. Ben Thomson, Ryan Stokes, Matt Foy .... I don't even know where I got this picture, but Shawn Belle (right in the picture below) was an old school baller ... good stuff.

Aeros.com Audio with Joe O'Donnell and Jim Mill

Joe O'Donnell (pictured here sporting the playoff beard) has had some nice sit-downs with several folks in the organization since arriving, and on the Aeros audio page is a good clip of his recent interview with Aeros Assistant GM Jim Mill.

I suspect the Aeros will have more of these as the summer progresses, especially around training camp time.

Give this a listen and comment back with what you think of the interview, how Joe conducted it and what you thought of Jim's comments.

He has been a real straight shooter with me since coming on board, and I cannot tell you how much that is appreciated.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Aeros to sign left wing Brandon Buck

The Aeros have signed left wing Brandon Buck to an AHL contract ... well, technically the ink has not been used, so it cannot be dry. BUT, this deal will be announced in due time.

Earlier today, the Wild signed Ryan Lannon and Nathan Smith to two-way deals, and the addition of Buck, who played junior hockey with the Guelph Storm (OHL), will give the Aeros a bit more youth up front.

In six games with the Norfolk Admirals last season, Buck notched a goal and added an assist when his career in the "O" was finito.

New Commenting Rules (Kind of)

One of the things we try to do here it at T3I is to provide a source for not only Aeros and hockey info in general, but for all of you to express your thoughts on the various topics we discuss, or anything you want discussed. And we like a good dialogue, and we like to think that we encourage a lively exchange of ideas.

But, we would like for this expression of dialogue to be civil -- since Heather and I have both been known to use profanity in posts, I can't say no profanity. So on behalf of Heather, Fred, and Andrew, I would kindly request that everybody please watch their tone. Try to cut back on the insults. Try not to call somebody else names. If you disagree, that's fine. But we would just ask that you try to do so in a more polite manner.

Here's the thing. We have the ability to delete comments that we believe go over the top. We've never done that. We've never seen the need to do that. But after some of the stuff earlier today, we have seriously started contemplating that option. Now, I lost out on the argument about whether those comments should have been deleted -- I thought they should stay because I don't like punishing people for breaking rules they didn't know existed, but like I said, I lost.

However, starting from this post on, if we see anything we consider to be over the top, defamatory, or just plain classless and insulting, we're DELETING IT. And just as a reminder, we also have the ability to use the moderation feature, which means nothing gets posted until one of us approves it. I don't want to do that since I'm the one without a job and that means I would be the one stuck with having to approve all of the comments. But that option is still out there.

So please, comment. Have a good time. Agree. Fight. Argue. Express anguish. Let us know how you feel about what the Aeros have done, or the league, or the opposition. Just keep it civil.

After all, we don't want hurt feelings.

Correction / Update -- AHL Schedule (not) delayed

The information that I got earlier today about the AHL schedule was not entirely correct ... and the AHL has confirmed that its schedule is not delayed and could be release some time the week of August 3.

No date at this time has been confirmed, and a league spokesperson said in an e-mail to me this afternoon that the AHL "does not wait for the NBA schedule to be released publicly to finish" its own schedule.

The e-mail goes on ... "Once the NBA gets deep enough into its own schedule-making that its teams can release available dates back to their buildings, our clubs in Houston, Milwaukee, Cleveland and San Antonio can provide us with the missing pieces we need to fill out the rest of our schedule. That should be as soon as next week."

After that, he said, it should take another week to be approved by the board of directors.

First of all, I am glad that the league reviews blogs about its teams so they can snuff out any incorrect information. Ironically, I kind of do the same thing "at my real job" so even though I kind of look like an idiot here, getting the right info clearly outweighs my mistake.

Anyway, this great news on all counts.

Nathan Smith, Ryan Lannon signed

Russo, via Twitter, is reporting that the Wild has signed Centerman Nathan Smith, who you might remember from this incident a while back. All I can say is, Yay!

Also, the Aeros' Joe O'Donnell confirmed that the team has signed another solid AHL defenseman in Ryan Lannon to a one-year, two-way contract. He played for the San Antonio Rampage a year ago. Be sure to catch Joe's interview with Jim Mill about the signings of both Smith and Lannon.

That should be later up today at www.aeros.com ...

Doing a little research on him, Smith played some NHL, doesn't find the back of the net much, but seems to get the C on his chest quite often, so that speaks well of him. He played for Todd Richards in Wilkes-Barre, and I would expect him to be in Houston most of the time.

As far as Lannon goes, this just shores up the Aeros defense that much more. If the team really starts the season with Dubielewicz or whoever the Wild gets in the (alleg-ed and upcoming) trade for Harding, the goals against and PK will both improve over lasts season.

At Your Request

Keeping with the we want to keep our readers happy thing, Rob has requested another music video, and wants to send this out "to whom it may concern" in every sports related front office everywhere.

So here's Eric Clapton and The Band with "Further On Up The Road."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The T3I Jukebox -- I'm Down

I try to save the music video requests for playing over at my place, The ClownVision Chronicles, but Rob asked politely in the previous post, and we here at T3I like keeping our readers happy. So, by request, here's The Beatles performing "I'm Down."

Aeros roster shaping up

Okay, time for a little roster math. The Wild, by my calculations (feel free to check my list at the end of this post), have 43 players signed to contracts, either one-way or two-way (this does not include guys signed to AHL-only contracts).

The limit for the number of contracts an NHL team can carry per season is 50, so the Wild could sign up to 7 more players before having to unload a contract. I would guess they leave a buffer for late season signings, as well.

As for the Aeros line-up, it's shaping up like this (updates):

RW- Irmen/LW-C-Pouliot/LW-Earl
RW-Milroy/C-Madsen/LW -Kaufman
RW-DiSalvatore/C-Almond/LW -Buck
RW-McMillan/C-Zingoni/LW-Kassian
RW-Kalus
C-Smith


(Some of these guys can play multiple positions... ahem... so it's hard to guess how lines will shake out. Plus, lines don't really matter on a KC-coached team.)

Stoner-Rogers
Sifers-Fraser
Falk-Noreau
Lannon

So, assuming Pouliot (or possibly Gillies, though I'm starting to doubt we'll see him) stays in Houston, and assuming Kalus doesn't bail for Europe when he doesn't make the Wild roster, the Aeros really only have a few more holes to fill. Of course, I mean this strictly in a "warm bodies in roster spots" way; not in a "who's gonna score the goals?" way.

Throw another d-man in there to cover injuries, and maybe 3 more forwards and you've got a team. And just a hunch, but I don't expect to see any of last year's free agents re-signed here this season. And by that I mean, ladies, cherish your Beaudoin memories and find a new hottie to adore. If he hasn't signed here yet, I don't think he's going to.

Bottom line: I don't know much about the new guys, but it's looking like another heavily defensive season, and the Aeros certainly have the quality blue line to pull it off, if perhaps not the goaltending (I still have big doubts about Dimples, though if it's Brusty and Dubie, you're golden).

Also, it seems good teams strive to have the "old guy." The vet who's done his time, maybe in the show, maybe just lots of AHL/Europe/etc. and it appears they don't have that guy yet. Set your prayers to a Hrkac-type rather than a Steve Kelly-type.

To me, this looks like *maybe* a first round and out team.

What do you think?


Guys with NHL contracts

Forwards
Almond
Belanger
Boogaard
Bouchard
Brodziak
Brunette
Clutterbutter
DiSalvatore
Earl
Gillies
Havlat
Irmen
Kalus
Kassian
Koivu
Madsen
McMillan
Miettinen
Milroy
Nolan
Pouliot
Sheppard
Smith
Voloshenko
Weller

Defensemen
Burns
Cuma
Falk
Fraser
Hnidy
Johnsson
Noreau
Rogers
Schultz
Scott
Sifers
Stoner
Zanon
Zidlicky

Goalies
Backstrom
Harding
Dubie
Brust
Khudobin

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mitch Love to Peoria

Thanks to the wonderful world of social networking (i.e. - Facebook), we now know that Mitch Love has joined the St. Louis Blue organization.

They lose Trent Whitfield and gain Mitch Love.
Now the only question is who he'll beat the crap out of at Toyota Center next year.

Who wins the bout between Love and Kassian?

Matt Shaw joins McLellan in San Jose

For Aeros assistant coach and Wild Video Coach Matt Shaw will join the San Jose Sharks as Assistant coach.

This is wonderful news for truly one of the classiest coaches I have ever dealt with. Granted that list isn't all that long, but the timing couldn't be better for Shaw, who is leaving the Wild to take the place of the guy who left to coach the Wild.

For new Aeros fans, Shaw was McLellan's assistant in Houston.

Consider this quote from McLellan from the Sharks' Web site:

"Our policy is to talk to several different people throughout a hiring process but I kept coming back to Matt," explained McLellan during a conference call on Friday. "Next year is a big year for all of us as players and as coaches and he and I have worked together in the past so there is a comfort level. He has tremendous character and a strong ability to interact with the players and coaches."

Meanwhile...Over at the Houston Press

I've got another summary of the Aeros off-season shakeups over at the mothership if you're interested. There's nothing new that you haven't read over here, but it's got everything in one nice post instead of spread throughout several. So give it a read if you want -- it's also a way of letting them know you like the hockey coverage.

Five Questions with (Former Aeros PR guru) Pat Armstrong

In case some of you don't know, the Aeros are losing both Pat Armstrong and Scott Henninger this summer. They both worked in communications.

Pat took a job with a new CHL team in Missouri, and Scott is moving back home (up Nort'). Both worked for the Aeros for two years and will be missed.

Theirs is a thankless job and one that is always under the proverbial microscope. It's almost like working in a fish bowl as everyone gets to see what kind of work you do. Rarely do you get an email to thank you for your work, and more often than not the only feedback you get is negative. Understanding that and dealing with it maturely are the basics of working in PR/Media relations.

Officially, I would like to thank them both for all their help, especially for moving me down press row when nachos and other belly-washer food was being thrown down from idiot kids in the suite above Section 108.

I got a chance to say goodbye to Scott earlier this week and bought him lunch at Little Bigs (great sliders, by the way.) Pat kind of left in a hurry and never said adios. If you are reading this, then I wish you the best in your new endeavor.

In closing, I would like to post a link to a story one of his new Missouri beat writers wrote about him. Five questions with/for Pat Armstrong, I think it is called. I think we should send Pat a list of five questions just for fun. Any suggestions?

Mic'd up with Jamie Fraser

Below is a video of something the Sound Tigers did last year. Some pretty good stuff.
This mic'd up is with new Aeros defenseman Jamie Fraser, who signed a two-way deal not too long ago. Last year at Bridgeport, he had 21 points (7 goals, 21 assists) and was tied for second on the team with a plus/minus rating of plus-13.

FYI ... Ryan Fraser, the referee (he wore No. 14 last year), is Jamie's cousin. Kerry Fraser, Ryan's dad (I guess) is his uncle.
Get all that? There will be a quiz. Seriously though, if this is not right, let us know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wade Dubielewicz to sign with Wild

I can confirm that Wade Dubielewicz will sign a contract with the Wild and will compete for the No. 2 goaltending spot with the Wild this fall.

Good news for Aeros fans is that if Josh Harding is not traded, then he will likely be the No. 1 in Houston. But if Harding is traded -- and personally I think this scenario is much, much more likely now -- that means it's up to Brust and Khudobin to man the pipes at Toyota Center.

So in a span of 12 hours, it went from sheer panic (OK, so I kid ... but some people need to chill) to possibly getting Duncan Milroy, Jon DiSalvore, Pete Zingoni and maybe Dubielewicz down in Houston.

My guess is that this is all of the big news for now. But stay tuned.

Aeros/Wild now have depth at forward

UPDATE -- According to the Conn. Post, Zingoni missed most of last season with a broken wrist ... and that comes after a slow start while recovering from a groin injury.

Confirmed:

Jon DiSalvatore (two-way)
Duncan Milroy (two-way)
Pete Zingoni (pictured, AHL deal)

There is also a NHL No. 2 / AHL No. 1 goalie that will sign, but I am waiting for confirmation before I post and look silly.

More to come later tonight ... perhaps Heather, John and Fred could weigh in on what they think.

Personally, I think these are good replacements for the now departed Locke/Kolanos/Schultz (there is no way he is coming back now). In fact, you still get good PP guys and maybe even a little more responsibility on the other side of the puck.

Discuss.

Olvecky To Nashville

And it's official. Peter Olvecky has signed with the Nashville Predators -- it's a two-way, one year contract. So maybe the A.S.S. gang will get to see him.

Now it's time for a breakdown; don't hit this button just yet

People, people, people.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the voice of reason.

It is a bummer than Locke and Kolanos are gone. They did a lot of great and fun things for this team last year. And yes, it is a bit alarming that they team has not re-signed Beaudoin, Schultz and others.

But it is still early, and there are still a ton of free agent forwards out there. This is not a conspiracy to A) save money and B) let the team fail on the ice so it will be easy to move the affiliation to Des Moines next offseason.

Here is what I do know.

(UPDATE: Thanks to the anonymous poster, it does appear that both Jon DiSalvatore and Duncan Milroy have signed with the Wild and will provide good depth at forward for the Aeros this season.)

There are several players (free agent Aeros) that I have spoken to, and they all want to come back. A lot of that is out of their hands, but no one is running these guys out of town. I talked to someone that has a great pulse on what is going on with the Rangers organization and they told me that the AHL part of Corey Locke's contract will have him doingbetter than just "A-OK." And that put him out of the reach of most organizations looking for minor league depth. In other words, it wasn't going to happen.

Kolanos, and I hate to say this, really wore out his welcome with his attitude. Especially after he was sent down for good. For what it's worth, I don't think the phone lines were buzzing to his agent either. Sure he was injured down the stretch ... but there are people that believe he changed for the worse.

There is talk that some of the powers that be with the team are concerned about the Aeros lack of depth right now at forward. There is also talk among players and others that this could be the very best defensive corps the team has seen in a long, long time.

That in itself, I am sure, has motivated GM Jim Mill to work the phones and get some forward depth. I got a chance to talk to him, too, after he took the job, and he has very much been looking forward to building a team down at this level. He is working hard to put a good team in Houston and to do what is best for the Wild.

I will talk to him again today, so we will see what comes of that. (Obviously, I will ask about DiSalvatore and Milroy.)

Also, Kevin Constantine, who is getting re-married soon to his wonderful fiancee Val, knows how to get the most out of whatever team he is given. Just look at how entirely different the last two teams have been. Yet, they both finished 3rd in the division and had teams capable of making a run in the playoffs.

The '08 was great defensively, but could not find the back of the net against Rockford.
And the '09 team played better than expected with an unproven goalie with tons of injuries and still made one of their more memorable playoff runs in team history.

Trust the coach, give the new GM a chance and wait until the roster is final before pressing that big red button at the top of this blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All 4 RFAs accept qualifying offers

Well, on the heels of some disappointing exits for many fans, the (good?) news is that Robbie Earl, Clayton Stoner, Benoit Pouliot, and Danny Irmen have all accepted their qualifying offers from the Minnesota Wild.

So that's one more year from all of them to play either for the Aeros or Wild.

Krys Kolanos signs with Philly

First Locke, Rosa next and now it's bye-bye Krys Kolanos.
Surely there will be more news later, but as Fred pointed out, if you look on the Flyers nhl.com roster page, he is there complete with video highlights.

Someone within the organization told me not too long ago that they would be VERY surprised if the Wild brought him back. But his ability to score goals at this level, and in such a dramatic fashion at times, will very much be missed.

I can't think of too many other Aeros (ever) that had his ability to literally create something good out of absolutely nothing.

Fans in upstate New York will enjoy his presence.

Marco's series vs. Moose impressive, helps get him a good AHL deal


Here is the story from our friends at the Winnipeg Free Press.



Apparently, like some of us, they thought he was the best player in that series.

Again, more kudos to Mr. Rosa.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Marco To The Moose

The Aeros have lost another of their free agents as the Manitoba Moose announced today that they have signed Marco Rosa to an AHL contract.

I'd like to wish Marco luck with the Moose, except when he plays against the Aeros. He was always an easy guy for us to deal with in the locker room after games, and he seemed to be well-liked by his teammates. He also, it seemed to me, to be a good Constantine-type player in that he wasn't the most gifted of players, but he always gave the maximum effort and did everything possible to make himself, and his teammates better.

And I'm sure I speak for the rest of us here at T3I in that I'd really like for the Aeros to start getting some guys under contract. I know there's been that whole change of regime thing going on up in St. Paul, but I don't think the Aeros can afford to lose all of their offensive skill players.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lemaire To The Devils

ESPN is reporting just now that Jacques Lemaire, recently departed coach of the Minnesota Wild, has signed on to coach the New Jersey Devils. More info as we get it.

UPDATE: And Russo confirms.

Mark Cullen signs with Chicago

Mark Cullen inked a one-year deal with the Blackhawks this week.
He'll be in Rockford most of the season, so the Aeros will get eight good looks at him this year.

I had some hopes that he might end up with the Wild/Aeros again, especially to give the team some much needed depth at center. But I fully expect the organization to ink a more versatile right wing/centerman type of guy to fill the Aeros' now obvious holes at forward.

The potential Aeros defensive lineup is now very strong with the additions last week of Sifers and Fraser. Now the team needs two strong AHL forwards and a No. 1 goalie.

Awesome Interview with Mitch Love

From our friend Su Ring in Seattle, an awesome season wrap-up interview with Mitch. He's so full of win and awesome. Go read it. I insist! It's awesome! Awesome!!!

(Sorry, you're getting me on a post-hockey high where everything is AWESOME!)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wallin Back in North America

Rickard Wallin signed a one-year deal with the Maple Leafs.
Very nice guy with good hands ... I think he was always a little soft defensively, and probably could use more "on ice" speed.

He was a good player and was a factor on the '03 Cup team for sure.

I think he scored the Game-winning goal in Game 7 against Hamilton.

ESPN NHL Writer: Wild third from the bottom

I realize this is only the opinion of ONE writer, but are the Wild really destined for another year without playoffs?

I think this is more of an indication of how competitive things are in the NHL these days, rather than the team just being bad.

But based on Free agent pick ups, etc. where do you see the Wild finishing next year?

From the article:

In this economy and with all the other options for hockey interest in Minnesota, one more non-playoff season will put the Wild's sellout streak at risk.

Ouch.

Board of Governor's Meetings Conclude

No surprises here really, save for the new shootout rule.
Personally, I was hoping the AHL would adopt the NHL policy of a best of three shootout.

Instead they choose to let guys like Paul Albers get a crack before letting Benoit fire multiple breakaway shots into the crest of the opposing goalie during the extra round.

From the AHL release:

• The format for the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs has been approved. The playoffs will feature the top four teams in each of the AHL’s four divisions, with one possible exception: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the East Division, it would cross over and compete in the East Division playoffs. The 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs will again feature a divisional playoff format, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals. All rounds will comprise best-of-seven series.

• A change has been made to the shootout procedures so that no player may shoot twice until all eligible players have gone once. Previously, only five shooters per team were selected to participate in the entire shootout.

• One-minute minor penalties during overtime, instituted at the request of NHL general managers in 2008-09, have been eliminated. Penalties in overtime will be served in full.

Kiwi won't help Wolves win another AHL title

Why?
Because he found out this week that you can't honor two contracts at the same time for leagues on opposite sides of the world.

There are a lot of people that will tell you never to sign more than a one-year deal in the KHL because they simply hate playing there. They find out the money actually isn't worth it.

But, Joel Kwiatkowski will play in Russia this year instead of dressing for the Thrasher's AHL affiliate in Chicago.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Luke Strand departs for USHL

Sioux City's USHL team has a new coach, former Aeros assistant Luke Strand.
Here is the article ... and here is a nice quote from Luke about his new gig:

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in the USHL and especially with the Sioux City Musketeers. I appreciate the opportunity afforded to me by the Musketeers management and look forward to leading them to success both on and off the ice. The USHL is undoubtedly the best junior hockey league in the country and I am thrilled to be a part of it; but even more excited about the chance to lead the ‘tradition rich’ Musketeers organization."

Best of luck up there, Luke!

I know I can speak on behalf of everyone at T3I.info when I say it certainly has been a pleasure working with you the last two years.

Again, all the best.

Another video

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Aeros Off-Season Status Report At The Houston Press

I've got kind of an off-season status report on the Aeros posted over at the Houston Press today. It's mainly a summary of what you've been reading over here, but give it a try and remind them that you like the hockey stuff.

Sifers and Fraser signed to the Wild/Aeros (updated)

Appears that the Wild have signed two defensemen who seem likely headed to Houston to fill out the blue line. Both are one year, two-way deals.

Jamie Fraser, who played for Bridgeport last season, and Jamie Sifers, who played 23 games for the Maple Leafs last season (and was with the Marlies prior to that).

Don't know much about them but as far as Sifers, I'm told by a friend who follows the Marlies, "Oooooo, you'll like him." Sounds like he's got some grit and is a stay-at-home type. I asked why he hasn't managed to stick with the Leafs, and my friend says the old regime was set on using veterans (how'd that work for ya, Leafs?) but he was solid in his NHL call-ups.

Also, he was voted into the AHL All-Stars for Planet USA last season. Here's a blog post he did about that for the Leafs site (seriously, NHL, you need to do better at handling blogs on the team web sites). And here's a post about his first NHL call-up.



For Fraser, it sounds like he's got some offensive talent, which is great. Here's a quote from an Islander's blogger who I'm assuming is surprised the Isles didn't qualify Fraser:
Jamie Fraser- I think he’s another no-brainer. He’s got the same great hair as his relative Kerry, who is one of the best officials in the league and is a good leader. On the ice, he’s got a big heart and that’s one of the reasons why he’s a fan favorite in Bridgeport. A good player on both sides of the puck, Fraser, in my mind, should be one of the first players called up if the Isles get hot by the injury bug again.
The well-coiffed Fraser with a nice little stick-lift:


-----------------------------
Here's the Wild's official press release:

SAINT PAUL/MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has signed defensemen Jamie Fraser and Jaime Sifers to one-year contracts.

Fraser, 23 (11/17/85), played one game with the New York Islanders in 2008-09, making his NHL debut April 4 versus Tampa Bay. Fraser posted 21 points (7-14=21) and 30 penalty minutes (PIM) in 66 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League (AHL). The 6-foot-1, 200-pound native of Sarnia, Ont., played junior hockey with the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Brampton Battalion and Sarnia Sting. He was originally signed by the Islanders on Feb. 22, 2007.

Sifers, 26 (1/18/83), recorded two assists and 18 PIM in 23 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2008-09 season. He also posted 20 points (4-16=20) and 47 PIM in 43 games for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound native of Stratford, Conn., played collegiately at the University of Vermont, where he was an ECAC Second All-Star Team selection in 2005. Sifers was signed as a free agent by Toronto on July 20, 2006.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Remember these?

So... I tweet. I'm not totally proud of it but I have to admit, it's been fun, especially lately with the many busy front offices around the NHL.

Anyway, I have a few searches saved to see if anybody's tweeting about subjects of interest, including the Aeros, and today someone tweeted these YouTube videos of Aeros commercials from "back in the day." Thought you guys might enjoy them.







Veilleux signs with Tampa Bay

Stephane Veilleux signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's reunited with Wes Walz (Asst Coach).

Lightning Sign Veilleux(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Stephane Veilleux on Tuesday. Per club policy, terms were not disclosed.

Welcome back to the South and good luck Steph!

(Update from Ms.C via Russo: Contract is a 1 year, $750k deal.)

Aeros Schedule Grid

The AHL gave the team's PR reps a nugget to release for themselves today.
Scott Henninger with the Aeros says the team's schedule grid is as follows.

Per Aeros.com:

The 2009-10 regular season will begin on Oct. 2. The Aeros complete schedule will be announced later this summer. Houston is slated to host 28 games within the West Division, 11 against the North Division and one versus the East Division. The Aeros opponents and number of home games are as follows (Houston plays each team an equal number of times on the road):

West Division
Texas Stars – six games
San Antonio Rampage – six games
Chicago Wolves – four games
Milwaukee Admirals – four games
Peoria Rivermen – four games
Rockford IceHogs – four games

North Division
Grand Rapids Griffins – three games
Abbotsford Heat – two games
Lake Erie Monsters – two games
Manitoba Moose – two games
Hamilton Bulldogs – one game
Toronto Marlies – one game

East Division
Syracuse Crunch – one game

Division Alignment Released


No real surprises here; Syracuse moves to the East, Abbotsford, as expected, joins the Canadian teams in the North, and Iowa is suspended for the year.

I think due to the economy and other factors, you won't see the Aeros playing a ton of games east of Cleveland. Could be wrong, but this division fits well and I anticipate the Aeros playing 24 of their games against San Antonio and Austin this year.

The schedule grid will be announced later this week, I am sure. (UPDATE - Well check that ... some teams are already announcing which teams they will be playing and how many times, so I guess we'll get that grid sooner ... )

(from the AHL)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2009


AHL ANNOUNCES DIVISION ALIGNMENT FOR 2009-10
29 teams set to compete in league’s 74th season


SPRINGFIELD, Mass.
… American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced that the league’s Board of Governors has approved the following conference and division alignment for the AHL’s 2009-10 season (NHL affiliates in parentheses):

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)
Lowell Devils (NJ)
Manchester Monarchs (LA)
Portland Pirates (BUF)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
Springfield Falcons (EDM)
Worcester Sharks (SJ)

East Division
Adirondack Phantoms (PHI)
Albany River Rats (CAR)
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Norfolk Admirals (TB)
Syracuse Crunch (CBJ)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)

Western Conference
North Division
Abbotsford Heat (CGY)
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL)
Lake Erie Monsters (COL)
Manitoba Moose (VAN)
Rochester Americans (FLA)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)

West Division
Chicago Wolves (ATL)
Houston Aeros (MIN)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Peoria Rivermen (STL)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)
San Antonio Rampage (PHX)
Texas Stars (DAL)

The 2009-10 regular season will begin on Oct. 2. The complete schedule will be announced later this summer.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 84 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the eighth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2008-09.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Freddie Chabot has a new gig

This is great news for Chabot fan.
According to inews 880 AM (an insanely reliable source), Freddie Chabot (who played several stints for the Aeros from 1996-2001) is the new goaltending consultant for the Edmonton Oilers.

And yes, he will have his work cut out for him.

In my opinion, the Aeros should have retired his number (along with that of Mark Freer's) a long time ago. They both hold team records that will never be broken.

Retiring his number now would mean nothing, I'm afraid, because very few people know either one of them or how special they were to the franchise once upon a time.

But I digress ...

Big Love

Here's Mitch Love's final blog entry for this past season, wrapping up the playoffs and thanking everyone. Nice stuff. Thanks to Su Ring for initiating the blog and to Mitch for carrying through with it all season.

I don't think I'm alone in wishing to see him back in Houston this fall, but of course, as a free agent, he's got his pick of places.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Locke Departs for Big Apple

The New York Rangers announced that they have signed Corey Locke to a contract. There are no details to the agreement other than a Rangers release that they have signed Locke.

Locke was one of the Aeros major scorers and contributors last season, and like the other big scorers, he was a free agent. I have yet to see anything regarding the contract status of Krys Kolanos, Jesse Schultz, or Matt Beaudoin who were the team's other big scoring contributors.