There are a few things that are worth mentioning before camp(s) start, so I will give you those and my reaction here.
First, one notable name on the Wild's camp roster is Jordan Hendry. He was on the 'Hawks Stanley cup team a couple of years ago, and Aeros fans might recognize him from the Rockford IceHogs. He is just on a tryout, so it remains to be seen what he will do if he does not make the Wild. My guess is that he'll sign a two-way deal. Russo had this to say on his blog about two weeks ago.
I think he'd be an OK stay-at-home veteran guy for the Aeros. The battle for the blueline jobs in St. Paul will really be fun to watch this year ... talking about the fringe guys, too. Could be some tough decisions for Yeo & Co. in the early goings.
Secondly, the Aeros will not have a home preseason game for the second year in a row. (Last year, they had one scheduled, but something that makes the ice work and stay safe failed ... ) The Aeros will play one game at OKC on 9/30 and then wrap things up at Texas on 10/2. Home preseason games are far less exciting for us media types because there never seems to be ANY communication between the front office and SLICE folks about where to put the media. Three years ago, I sat in a closet (it had a window) to watch the game with Brent Hughes, who, at the time, was the coach for the Corpus Christi Rays. Sometimes we sit in the stands, and one time I was the announcer for the green vs. white scrimmage game. I think that was the year the Aeros played their preseason games in San Antonio in Beaumont and Laredo.
I think having a home preseason game is far more important for the hard core fans, and I hate to see them go without. It's also nice to have a warm-up game for the game ops people that will surely give us much to talk about on this blog.
I know this is pie in the sky, but I really wish they would do a round-robin preseason "tournament." You get all four teams to play each other in two locations and you rotate the locations every year. You get to hype up what otherwise would be a meaningless set of games and you could get the fans competitive juices flowing a bit early.
Let's say Cedar Park and San Antonio are the "host cities" ... you could do all the games in three days. No team would have to pay more than two nights at a hotel and that is the key, I think, to making this work.
2011 Buc-ees Preseason Spectacular Schedule of Events
Friday, Sept. 30
Game - 1: Houston at San Antonio, 7 p.m. - Ice Center at Northwoods
Game - 2: Oklahoma City at Texas - 7:30 p.m. - Cedar Park Center
Saturday, Oct. 1
Game - 3: Oklahoma City at San Antonio - 7 p.m. - Ice Center at Northwoods
Game - 4: Houston at Texas - 7:30 p.m. - Cedar Park Center
Sunday, Oct. 2
Game 5: Houston vs. Oklahoma City - 3 p.m. - Ice Center at Northwoods
Game 6: San Antonio vs. Texas - 7 p.m. - Ice Center at Northwoods
Everyone gets three games and you could actually have a mini competition with standings. You get media out and a chance to hype up what would otherwise be a forgotten weekend in the news cycle.
Some might call this a bit too much work for the preseason. Maybe it's too costly and maybe you risk injury with a third game. To me, I think it is well worth the risk and think the preseason games would benefit the on-ice product for the early part of the regular season, too.