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

Friday, August 17, 2012

Aeros 2012-13 Schedule is released

According to the Mayans, the last game the Aeros will ever play will be Thursday, Dec. 20 in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters. Also, if you believe all the rumors in the blogosphere, the Aeros last game as an affiliate of the Minnesota Wild will be Sunday, April 21 at Oklahoma City.

All of this information and more can be found here. Today, the AHL released the schedule, and there is definitely some good news and bad news for Aeros fans. Also, here is a link to the printable schedule that says the Aeros are, "On a Mission."

First, some of the good. 

The Aeros open the season at home on Oct. 13 against the Charlotte Checkers, and they don't play any road games outside of Texas and Oklahoma until Friday, Nov. 16 at Rockford. In fact, in their first 23 games, the Aeros will be home 14 times, and just ONE of those road games (see above) is not in Texas or Oklahoma.

More good news? The Aeros play just seven three in threes. And they are fairly spread out over the course of the season. More good news on that front is that in five of those situations, the Aeros will be the home team five times. If you've got to finish a three in three, you might as well be at home. The hockey is not always pretty ... but again, better to be at home.

I did not get my wish for 6:05 Saturday games, but a mad shout out goes to the front office for moving all the non-Sunday games to 7:05. Sunday games will remain at 5:05.

The Aeros have a franchise record 10-game homestand from March 23 through April 13, but boy are they going to pay for it. See the next section.

Now for some bad news. 

From December 14 through the middle of March, the Aeros are going to collect the miles. If they are not solidly in the playoff picture come mid-December, it's going to take a lot of extra work to make the playoffs. During that time, after all those home and road games in the region, the Aeros will play 24 of their next 36 games on the road. There is even an absolutely insane stretch of games from Jan. 19 through March 10 where the Aeros will play a stretch of 17 of 21 on the road.

More bad news? Well, you can cue the "We're getting ripped off" mantra from season ticket holders now. There is another game in St. Paul, and that is on Nov. 18 against Rockford. Sorry folks, this is the minor leagues, and the Toyota Center is filled with basketball games and concerts on Friday's and Saturday's. Also, the fans up north are really interested in the team for the first time in ... well ... forever. If you want to know your options for that game, here you go. 

That also might be the first pro hockey game they get at that building because of continued insane stupidity in the NHL.

That is pretty much it for the bad news, unless I missed something in this quick analysis. The Aeros don't have any three in three during their insane rodeo road trip. Attendance is king, and they finally figured out that playing a lot of home games in late Feb. early March is not a good idea in Houston.

Other notables:

The Aeros play five "early" games this year. Two of them (Games that start before 3 p.m.) are at home, as there is the annual kids game vs. San Antonio on Dec. 11, and they are going to play early on Super Bowl Sunday. That is Feb. 3 vs. Rockford.

As far as division games will go, the Aeros will play 36 of their games against three teams. Six home and six away each against OKC, San Antonio and Texas. They will play Charlotte eight times, four home and four away. The rest of the teams will visit one or two times, including Abbotsford (twice), who moved to another division.

So what are your thoughts on the schedule?

My highlights are the fewer three in threes and moving the Friday and Saturday games to 7:05.
The lowlights for me are all the road games in the middle that will make it difficult to gain ground during that time. I also don't like the fact that they play their last three in three of the season all on the road to close out the slate. That too will make things rough if the Aeros need four or five points just to make the playoffs again.

Here is some more info from the Aeros press release:

2012-13 Schedule Highlights

BUSIEST MONTH – November (13)
LONGEST HOME STAND – 10 games (March 26-April 13)
LONGEST ROAD TRIP – 8 games (Feb. 6-22)
MONTH-BY-MONTH – October (7), November (12), December (13), January (12), February (11), March (11).
HOME DAY-BY-DAY - Monday (1), Tuesday (4), Wednesday (2), Thursday (6), Friday (8), Saturday (7), Sunday (10)

The AHL Schedule set for release today

The schedule will be loaded with these teams ... again. 
Today, the AHL will unveil its schedule for the 2012-13 season. Fans will be able to see it about 2 p.m. Central time, and we'll certainly post a link to it on our blog for your convenience.

I don't know about you, but the things I always look for right away are who the Aeros open the season against, and how many three in threes they are scheduled to play.

I always look for the longest homestand, the longest road trip and how many times they play San Antonio on the road on Sundays.

You can probably bet that the Aeros will have a dozen or more home games on Sundays and I am interested if the team did indeed move the Saturday start time from 7:35 to 6:05.

I will send Mr. Burke & Co. a nice gift if they get rid of the 7:35 p.m. start time altogether. In reality the puck usually does not drop before 7:40, and that is just too late to start a hockey game. Monday through Friday, the games should start at 7:05. Saturday's should start a 6:05 and Sunday's should be 3:05 or 4:05 ...

Of course there is still the big elephant in the room about the Wild moving the team to another locale next season. This will continue to be a huge topic until Thanksgiving when everyone should know one way or the other where the team will be in 2013-14.

If the Wild does move the team away, I really don't think Houston hockey fans will be without puck for too long. My gut says the team stays put, and the two sides work something out for the next 3-5 years. But it's only 60-40 (%) ... I understands there are valid reasons why both sides are considering other options. After all, the bottom line is money, right?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

So things just got a little more interesting ...

I know many of you don't follow us on Twitter. And I'm not going to say that you should ... but if you did you'd have seen some interesting chatter on there today regarding your favorite AHL hockey team.

Team president David Burke is leaving the organization for the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer. He is going to work for his mentor, and it really is a nice promotion. Burke has done a lot great things while in Houston, but he had a make a tough decision ... and I would have done the same thing.

The timing stinks, though, because the team is battling it out right now, trying to get a new lease done with the Toyota Center. As of right now, the Aeros don't have a home for 2013-14. Though some have pointed it out to me, I do realize that Burke's departure has nothing to do with the team possibly relocating. There are rumors swirling in Minnesota that the team will move to North Dakota, and there is the perennial rumor of the team moving to Des Moines, where the AHL has already failed miserably.

But if the Aeros don't get a deal that makes financial sense for them down here, they absolutely should be looking for something else.

The team will start looking for Burke's replacement immediately, and that individual will have a lot on his or her plate when they take over.

The Aeros are one of the top franchises in the AHL, and Burke and his team are a good reason as to why that is. Sure, we may not always agree with every decision ... but overall, they do a great job with the resources they are afforded and attendance is always in the top 10. Or better.

My gut feeling tells me that they get something done with Toyota Center, but that is not a strong gut feeling. I think there are some serious chances out there the team plays in another city or venue next year and beyond.

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, if a deal is still not in place, that might be the time to get a little more worried. But right now, know that both sides are working on getting something done.

And if you are mad at Burke for leaving, don't be. It's a tremendous compliment to the team that the Rapids picked him after the work he's done here. Join me in wishing he and his family all the best. And let's just hope that his replacement keeps the team going in the same direction.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

State of Hockey News: Aeros have high hopes for 12-13

The State of Hockey News did a very good feature on the Aeros in their most recent edition.
I am not going to take away from the authors on this, so please, do yourself a favor and read this now.

We can debate it later, but I'd be lying if I said that I was not excited about seeing the team on the ice this October.

The Wild finally have some home-grown talent in Houston, and it will be good to see how they all jell under John Torchetti.

I come from the school that you need at least two savvy vets to make a deep run in the playoffs. But teams like the Philadelphia Phantoms from a few years back show that you can do it without guys like DiSalvatore and Ortmeyer.

Speaking of Ortmeyer and Mike Modano, maybe Mill can sign those guys to AHL deals ...

And on that joke/note, read the article and let me know what you think.