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

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Kid Speaks, And Other Things

That's a nice post from Heather, below. I thought I would share some of the quotes from after the game, and discuss some other matters.

So it was Darcy Kuemper's first win on the AHL level. And of course, we talked to him.

"It’s a great feeling," he said about getting the win. "I didn’t even know if I would get any playing time when I got called up, and I go in and get my first win. It’s an amazing feeling. I’m on cloud nine."

The kid really does look young. But he held his composure pretty good, especially considering that Colton Gillies and Justin Falk were playing around with him and trying to make him break.

And a positive for him, last night, probably, was just his general ignorance of the league, especially his general ignorance of Chicago. Sure, he saw them, and faced them, on Wednesday, but he just doesn't realize how good they're supposed to be.

"I haven’t seen them [Chicago] play until now, but I heard they’re a good team and have a lot of offense," he said. "I’m not nervous, but in the third period I really realized that I can play at this level. I really calmed down and just played my game. I knew when we got that second one -- to go up 4-2, get the two goal lead -- I knew we were going to win it."

He knew that his play wasn't perfect, and there were some things that he wanted to set right, like that second Chicago goal which came off of a rebound he didn't handle properly. But unlike some young kids, and lots of veterans, he didn't let that goal get into his head.

"I would have liked to have that rebound back," he said, "but it came through traffic, and I was just like ‘you know what, we still have the lead here, we’re in good shape. I just need to play my game and stick with it, and we’ll still get the win.’”

He also gave credit to teammate and fellow goalie Wade Dubielewicz. If you ever watch the Aeros bench on a night when Dubielewicz isn't playing, and you'll note that he's the most vocal coach that you'll ever meet. He's always shouting and encouraging everybody and making suggestions. And during the timeouts last night, he was always confering with Kuemper.

"He’s been great," Kuemper said of Dubielewicz. "I owe him so much. Since the moment I got here he took me under his wing. He taught me a lot about the league, and he keeps teaching me. He’s really helped to calm me down and feel at home."

If you thought the team was playing harder last night than they have recently, then you're right. Kevin Constantine noted afterwards that part of that had to do with protecting Kuemper. But he also noted that a lot of guys figured out that they're now playing for next year, i.e., contracts. And scouts are in the building, so they should probably be trying to impress.

Speaking of next year, Heather noted that there will be a lot of roster turnover. And Andrew will probably deal with this later, like after the season. But for those who are curious, the following players are under a Wild/Aeros contract for next season:

Colton Gillies,
Marco Scandella,
Max Noreau,
Carson McMillan,
Justin Falk, and
Cody Almond.

The following are restricted free agents:

Anton Khudobin,
Jamie Fraser,
Robbie Earl,
Danny Irmen,
Petr Kalus, and
Matt Kassian.

The rest of the roster will be unrestricted free agents, are here on AHL contracts.

So take from that what you will.


artandhockey said...

Good, we have some talent then on the future roster, but where do Hackett, Ilvonenen, Cuma, who were selected last summer, etc, fit in. I have not kept track of these kids.

buddhafisch said...

Hackett was just signed to a two way deal by the Wild, so he will certainly be in Houston next year. Likely a back up to start the year, maybe even a starter if Harding gets moved and Anton moves to the Wild.

Cuma will likely also be in Houston next year, as he made it past the 20 year mark.

As for Ilvonenen... I wouldn't hold my breath

CenterIce said...

I think the biggest contract question is Kevin Constantine. I heard somewhere that he had a three season contract, and this is the end of his third season.
Has anyone heard anything more definitive?

Ms. Conduct said...

There's not much question to it. Yesterday, Russo reported that he is not likely to be back, though I think we could have told you that just based on observation of the team.

artandhockey said...

Too bad.
Seems to me that NOT renewing KC's contract can be partly blamed on the 'veteran' older players. Who may have resented KC's system. Without actually staging a 'revolt' - did an 'exercise in futility'.
KC's talent lies in molding youngsters into hard hitting teams.

John Royal said...

I like Kevin Constantine, but renewing a contract of a guy a likely to be let go is one of those stupid things they do in sports that I just don't understand -- the Houston Astros are currently paying off Cecil Cooper and the Texans will likely be paying off Gary Kubiak after this season.

The Aeros are a minor league franchise. And as happens with minor league franchises, when a new management team arrives at the major league level, within a year, the minor league staff has been replaced by people who have a philosphy that matches that of the new people in charge.

Constantine's philosphy was a match for the old team, not the new team. About the only way he was going to return was if he got the team deep into the playoffs again, and anything less than the Calder Cup might not have been enough.

And I'm sure Andy Hilbert's concussion and Peter Zingoni's bulky knee came about because they resented Constantine's system. The Aeros aren't losing because the veterans resent the system. They're losing and are out of the playoffs because the two veterans who were supposed to provide the scoring were absent for most of the season because of injury.

ICEVET said...

Let the chips fall where they may, but irregardless of the outcome, you can be certain that Kevin Constantine will only look forward (not back). He is a proven BUILDER with a resume that speaks for itself with over over 270 NHL and AHL wins.

Serious fans know that KC's leadership and tactics nearly got the 2008-9 Aeros into the Calder Finals with the Hershey Bears...only a very-rested Manitoba team was able to outlast an exhausted Aeros team which had previously won 2 road-game 7's, by outcoaching and outplaying their Western Division opponents, in each series. That KC pulled this off was not lost on those who recall that he did the same thing in the NHL.

There is no simply no point in beating a dead horse when it comes to rehashing the inherent problems (and failures) with the 2009-10 version of the Aeros. Everyone recognizes that KC had no role in the selection of THIS TEAM and has done the best he could with the poor hand he was dealt. That the Aeros have an opportunity to finish this season with at least 80points in the most competitive division of either AHL conference is remarkable, given the legion injury and underperformance issues.

While John Royal's comment well sums up what is about to happen, let all serious Aeros fans not forget the contribution which KC has made to the tradition of hockey in Houston, Texas.

Go Aeros!

John Royal said...

Icevet: I agree about Kevin. I think he's a tremendous coach. The question is where he'll be coaching next year, not if he'll be coaching next year.

I think if Zingoni and/or Hilbert had been able to remain healthy for the entire season, then the Aeros might be looking at the playoffs, not looking up at the playoffs because the Aeros didn't get much help. I still remember the game where they had to play with 17 skaters because of injuries and Brandon Rogers having to alternate between center and defense. And who can forget the game where they had no legit backup goalie, sorry Jeff, and had to play Barry Brust despite than severe leg gash.

And I definitely won't being forgetting anytime soon that playoff ride last season that had Troy Ward hunting through the land, and finding Matt Climie.

Personally, I'm going to miss Kevin and Troy. They've always been good to us, and they haven't treated me like the true hockey idiot that I am.

artandhockey said...

Agree re Zingoni and Hilbert, what I've seen WHEN they are healthy..was good, unlike some others I could, but will not, mention.
And KC giving JM Daoust all that icetime paid off handsomely, didn't it?

y2j77071 said...

Who are some good available coaches who employ the system. One quality I like is passion. To me a coach needs to have passion. Look at the big diffrence between daum and KC. Daum no passion= quick round 2 sweep by the admirals. KC passion = Road Game 7 win against Admirals

Forecheck said...

It was a very long and very busy weekend for me, so I didn't have time to comment on the games.

Friday night, when I saw that "The Kid" was starting, I thought KC was taking my earlier post a little to literally. But as bad as Dubielwiecz had been playing (ECHL back-up caliber), I guess there was nothing to lose, and an inexperienced goalie in net might just put some resolve in the D, much like an army burning the bridge behind them after they cross a river.

It was a really different team Friday from the drop of the puck, and he game was, for a change, quite entertaining.

Same thing for Saturday, though the video was horrible, as was the camera guy in Austin, and the audio and KNTH were a disaster. But the team was good.

Admittedly, we beat two rather depleated teams, but after Tuesday, beating anyone, even a high school team, would be an improvement.

I hope the rumors about KC are wrong. He's a great coach, a builder, and if the Wild are changing looks, they need to recast (i.e., rebuild)the Aeros too. Well, they need to at least rebuild the team even if they wren't changing the Wild. If KC goes, I do hope he lands an NHL gig - and I'm certainly hoping the head coaching job in Dallas will be open.

But what is the "change" of which you speak in Minny? What I see from this year is a repeat of the Lemaire/Risebrough era. I haven't read that things were changing. And I certainly hope the Wild get interested in things like "offense" and "grooming talent on the farm", two things which are totally absent now.