Most savvy AHL fans know that you really need a perfect balance of young skill, great goaltending and savvy veterans to lead you team to a championship.
The Aeros had that formula two years ago and made it to the AHL finals. That was a fun year, and I thought they were going to win the whole thing until Kleinendorst and the Senators figured out how to stop Mike Yeo's system. I'd be a fool to say he was out-coached; fatigue played a huge factor in that, too, but I digress ...
Over the summer, the Wild knew they'd need time and space to play all their young guns down in the AHL, so the only "veteran" they went after was Brian Connelly. Not a bad pickup for someone to quarterback your power play. This could be Jim Mill's move of the summer if the young forward's pan out.
So here were are in the second week of the regular season, and the Aeros' two best veterans are on the other side of the puck. Gone are Warren Peters, and John DiSalvatore and Jed Ortmeyer. There is no Robbie Earl and others like that.
Heather asked Mill about the veteran situation during training camp, and here is what he said about going into the season with a bunch of rookies up front.
“You’re not always going to have a situation where you can go out and get Warren Peters and Jed Ortmeyer and Jon DiSalvatore," said Mill. We were, fortunately. We were fortunate enough that they wanted to come play in the Wild/Aeros organization and be a part of something great. You get those players to lead your team, but you also get those players, they’re not always there to carry your team. They’re there to nurture and develop other players around them, so that it rubs off on those players."
|Aeros GM Jim Mill|
"When we weren’t able to get Petey and Orts down for the playoff run, it’s too bad in one way, they wanted to be a part of it," added Mill. "But in another way you don’t have those players around just to carry you all the time; you have them there to nurture and develop and help create new leaders and help cultivate new leaders in your room, because the young guys learn. Everybody learns from somebody how to be a better leader, how to be a better player and person."
In the end, the Aeros just could not afford to have those guys around anymore. It's not just a money thing. It's a playing time thing and a development thing and a roster thing. In the end, having those guys around the last 2-3 years should help Chad Rau and Carson McMillan and other become great AHL leaders. And those guys will still be competing for spots with the big team.
Mill talks more about that here:
"So I looked at (the veterans) as more of, there are years where they led and carried, and there are other times where they mentored and helped develop leaders in our group. And that’s what having their presence was able to do, and now we have guys who have been around those types of players and it’s time for them to become leaders and step up and take on that added role and responsibility, so we have some homegrown leadership. That’s the goal."
So much remains to be seen, but if John Torchetti can get the Aeros rolling, it should/could/would be a fun ride, even when the lockout is lifted.
Now, check out this video of Mill from his ECHL days. This never gets old: