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

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Bonding Trip

It's no secret that I'm not much of a fan of the AHL league offices, especially when it comes to the treatement of the teams in the Western Conference. You know, those teams that actually have to get on airplanes to journey to their next arenas for games. I'm also of the opinion that the league tends to treat the Aeros and the other Texas teams like crap, mainly when it comes to scheduling. I can't for the life of me figure out why the Aeros had to turn around and play at noon the day after a night game. And it was my opinion that while the Aeros put out a good effort yesterday, they were clearly gassed while playing against a rested team.  (Apparently I'm an idiot who has no idea what he's talking about since it appears the Aeros are the one's who requested the 12:05 start yesterday.)

But at least that was a home game. The Aeros aren't going to have any home games for awhile. Their next 11 games are on the road -- four of the games are in Abbotsford. True, the Aeros have been an excellent road team this year while playing poorly at home, but still, 11 straight road games are going to be taxing for any team, even if the team plays good hockey on the road like the Aeros. (The Aeros are 23-12-3-9, 58 points on the season, but only 9-7-3-6 at home with a 14-5-0-3 road record)

We asked John Torchetti and Jon DiSalvatore about the challenges that await the team, and how the team will adjust to that many on the road. And they didn't sound too worried, not that they would tell us they worried.

"We just want to come out – we want to keep our success going." Torchetti said. "We’ve got some big challenges. We play some good teams, so we’ve got to be ready that. I just think it’s a good challenge for us as a team. It gets us some time to go bond, which is big."

DiSalvatore claims the road games are easier to handle because the player time is more regimented and there are fewer distractions, which could be partly behind their better road play.

"There’s more distractions when you’re at home than when you’re on the road," he said. "Your schedule for the most part is set with you. So guys are tuned pretty well when you’re on the road. You have an itinerary that you follow so it’s easy to kind of reign guys in; keep a little bit more of a cohesive unit when you’re on the road. You go to dinner a lot. You associate a lot. You go to movies on the off days. You’re really together way more than we ever are when we’re at home."

(As an aside, I covered a religious event featuring baseball player Josh Hamilton on Friday night. Hamilton's a drug and alcohol addict who makes a habit off falling off the wagon during the off-season. A time when he's got no schedule to follow, so he turns to his demons then. So maybe DiSalvatore has a point about the set schedules and being able to reign people in.)

As for what the team is expecting to do on the road, DiSalvatore said that they can't look ahead to what they want to accomplish on the trip.

"You’ve got to be careful when you start to look ahead too much," he said. "We’re still a team that’s trying to work on a bunch of things. I know its a little cliché, but you really do have to take it one day at a time. We’re trying to build a foundation here; a lot like any winning team that wants to make a successful playoff run is trying to do. We’ve got to take every opportunity, a chance to go on and get a great road win, character wins. We showed this weekend some more character, and we’ve got to continue to show signs like that. Really, just take it section-by-section, minute-by-minute type deal, and work with some guys who are still maturing to being first year pros, playing a lot of minutes for us."

As it stands now, the Aeros are the fourth seed in the Western Conference for playoffs. I don't believe the road trip is going to destroy any playoff chances, especially not if they keep playing good hockey on the road. But my fear is that the team returns to Houston tired and beat up and still struggling at home.

Hopefully this road trip will position them for a successful playoff run. The team that bonded during a month-long road trip and is now ready to lay waste to all that come before them.

But frankly, all things considered, I just wish the AHL would stop screwing around and treating the Aeros the way Ted Turner treated the Atlanta Braves back in the early-80s, slot fillers to fill out a schedule. The team that plays all of the 11:00 a.m. matinees because somebody has to do it -- the Aeros play two 11:00 a.m midweek games on this schedule, including tomorrow's game in Chicago. Never mind.

Oh well, until next month.


Forecheck said...

"I'm also of the opinion that the league tends to treat the Aeros and the other Texas teams like crap, mainly when it comes to scheduling."

No need to cross this out, you're 100% correct!

ICEVET said...

John: Good POST.....your summary and findings (particularly, DiSalvatore's comments on game focus) resonate with my earlier comments @ Andrew's Super Bowl Day POST.

Most observers agree that the Relative Competitive Strength of teams in the Western Conference, this season, has outpaced the competition of last season (itself, pretty intense).

Yet, after 47 games, the Torchetti (won't quit) Aeros still remain ahead of the pace set by the Yeo (the special team) Aeros. Torchetti and staff have just done an amazing job, given the obstacles and headwinds they have faced.

. Torch.....23-12-12 (58 pts)

. Yeo.......25-18-4 (54 pts)

Go Aeros!

artandhockey said...

Well, well well.. just as I surmised on my blog several posts ago .. playing at home too many distractions for players!
And no I did not talk to Jon D.
Wives, girlfriends, babies, maybe houseguests, maybe short trips on no-game day periods, taking care of bills, movies, etc. and parties, perhaps.
Road trips, they go, they practice, they eat, they listen to the coaches, watch game videos, they play, sleep and repeat.