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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Aeros start road trip with 3-1 loss at Chicago; Kampfer is minus two again.

Losing is a disease; as contagious as .... 
The "Ls" continue to pile up for the Aeros, who lost 3-1 at Chicago on Saturday night. From most accounts, the Aeros wasted a gutty performance by Matt Hackett and got beat by a goalie playing well above his normal capabilities.

Carson McMillan scored the lone goal from the Aeros, who are fading quickly.

There is no shame in losing to a better team, but what is most disappointing about this set-back is how the Aeros wasted a very favorable schedule. Chicago was playing its third game in four nights, and the Aeros, fresh with new blood from the NHL, did not take advantage.

The Aeros gave up another short handed goal, this time when the opposition made them pay while sitting for a double minor. The laziness that led to that goal was mind-boggling. Let's hope that was just rust, as the Aeros will try to snap their overall and road losing streaks today at Peoria. The dagger was a game-winning power play by the Wolves in the final minute of the second period. For a team, whose confidence is fading rapidly, a goal like proved to be insurmountable.

Jason Zucker (minus-2), who along with Charlie Coyle (minus-2) continue to prove invisible during this slide, had several good looks for a chance to tie the game. Steve Kampfer, pictured above, continues his atrocious play and finished minus-2 in the game.

A quick look at his game-by-game reveals a far-too embarrassing trend. In his last 12 games played (keep in mind he was injured in the middle of them, he has been been on the wrong side of zero 11 times. Eleven times! And in seven of those games, he's been minus-2. Add it all up, and in just 12 games, he's minus-18. Kampfer is minus-18 in 12 games.

I keep repeating his name (Kampfer, Kampfer, Kampfer) in hopes that someone, maybe he, his agent or a family, has a Google alert set up for him and will sign in as anonymous and will defend him. I can see a bad stretch here or there, but this guy is on the ice for just about every opponent goal since the beginning of December.

John Torchetti sent the media subliminal messages about Kampfer and a few other players after their most recent home games, but he refuses to name names. Injuries on the blue line continue to be one of the main reasons why Kampfer has to play.

I guess one way to look at it is that it can't get much worse for Kampfer.


Anonymous said...

Had hoped the swan song would be a long playoff run, instead looks like they'll be watching the playoffs.

ICEVET said...

With all due respect, I issued the first KAMPFER WARNING on November 12 in my comments to John Royal's 11/11 POST on the Texas Stars Win.

When a professional hockey player performs as poorly as Mr. Kampfer consistently has, one can only sympathize with Coach Torchetti, who is forced by circumstance to play him.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's good thing the Aeros can't come to lease terms. Hate to see them go but maybe we can get a team in here with some heart.

Anonymous said...

An Aeros lease update for anyone interested (per Russo):

Moving the farm?

With the Wild's lease at the Toyota Center for the Houston Aeros set to expire after this season, the Wild may have to look for a new market for its American Hockey League affiliate.

Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka said the Wild would prefer to stay in Houston (where it has been since 2001-02), but discussions are ongoing and must "come to some conclusion in the next month or so."

"There's a long history in Houston, so it would be easier and better to be able to stay put," Majka said. "But we'll see how the negotiations go."

Des Moines is one rumored market if the Wild leaves, but Majka said, "I'm not going to comment on other markets. We're talking to Houston."

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need to have Craig Leopold talk to Les Alexander mano y mano.

Forecheck said...

If the Aeros keep this losing streak up, it's not going to be farewell at the end of the season but good riddance, bring on the Alexander-owned ECHL franchise.

What do the Aeros have more of per game over the last two weeks - goals or injuries?

It is good to hear that the Wild seem to want to keep the Aeros in Houston if possible. For once, I believe them on something. But in the end (where the fans usually get it in Houston) it's up to Alexander. He wants to be the 800 pound gorilla in Houston sports.

I'm willing to chip in on bus tickets out of town for Kampfer. Anywhere. Anchorage.

Anonymous said...

remember what happened to King Kong.
he'll get his eventually.last time I checked his rockets weren't exactly lighting things up.

aeros need to do something even if it's wrong. one goal per game won't get you very far.

Anonymous said...

The way the Aeros played in Peoria tonight was just pathetic. I think it's time Torchetti started taking some of the blame.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

Torchetti has shouldered some of the blame recently...but this roster is very banged up, and there is no one winning faceoffs. There seem to be about 10 different agendas in the locker that doesn't seem to help things either.

B2 said...

NHL in Houston is inevitable. Right now there's a lot of money in Houston via the energy industry. It's recognized as an international city. I think the Aeros lease problems may be a result of Alexander's thinking. I wouldn't be surprised if the Aeros move to Davenport.

Anonymous said...

Torchetti has obviously lost control of this team. The lease issue doesn't help either.
if an nhl team is in Alexander's sights as an Aeros season ticket holder I will not ba able to afford the inevitable price differential for an nhl season ticket. Wonder how many are in the sams situation.

view from afar said...

Agreed on the Kampfer comments. But most of the 2nd minuses are the empty net goals that the other team scores late in a game when is put on the ice with Genoway. But in order to get to that -2, he has to be a -1 at that point.

To me the biggest problem with this team is the lack of veterans in the lineup comprising a forward line. The decision that management made to not have guys like Jon DiSalvatore and Jeff Taffe back so they could develop their younger guys - in theory – is coming back to haunt us fans.

These veteran guys are guys that know how to win, how to get the most out of their team mates in the manner of effort and most importantly – know that they most likely are on the team to stay – they are not there to be called up by their NHL affiliate.

DiSalvatore has 11 goals and 18 assists in 40 games this year; Taffe has 9 goals and 28 assists in 38 games. Bagnall is a veteran but as a defenseman, he can’t carry the team on his back.

The last 2 games were controlled by veteran forward presence. Chicago had Brett Sterling (15 goals, 13 assists, 28 points) and Derren Haydar (7 goals, 18 assists, 25 points). Peoria had TJ Hensick (10 goals, 24 assists, 34 points) and Derek Nesbitt (14 goals, 13 assists, 27 points) and added Chris Porter to that line after the NHL training camps disbursed.

Conversely, veterans on the Aeros – Rau (7 points and injured for a period of time) and McIntyre (17 points) are still trying to get themselves a call up to the NHL at some point.

The rest of the younger guys are talented but are still learning to play the pro game (Zucker, Coyle, Phillips).

Just my view from afar…

Anonymous said...

It makes me sick to lose pro hockey in Houston. I blame the local news media for ignoring a great sport and successful franchise. Plus les Alexander has done hockey no favors. I thought local taxpayers foot a good bit of the bill for TC. Concerning Torch...he needs to kick some lazy butts into shape. I know he loves his players and rigorously defends them, but blind backhand passes, being second to the puck, waiting for the puck to come to you, lack of hitting, passes to open ice....these are all coach able elements in
Peewee hockey. Lack of performance/hustle at this level is attitude!

John Royal said...

Blaming the local media is the easy thing to do, and it's wrong. I put five years into writing about the Aeros for the Houston Press, and the result was a resounding yawn of apathetic non-interest.

And it's the same with the other media in the city. The only time there is any interest by anyone other than diehards is when the team goes deep into the playoffs. And then once the season's over the casual fans go back to obsessing over the Texans, UT, and Texas A&M.

I would love to be able to cover every game for the Press once again. But aside from the folks who read T3I who would follow the links over there, nobody read, nobody cared, and people requested we write about high school football instead of wasting time on the Aeros.

I tried. But then again, maybe it was just me nobody liked. Which is a highly likely answer.

ICEVET said...

This BLOGSITE and its predecessor, together with surveys and knowledgeable commentors (over the years) have thoroughly debunked the THESIS that Houston will ever have an NHL franchise.

Houston's Sports Media Class (and fans from various demographic groups) have clearly demonstrated the Sports Classes which can draw support at the Tier 1 Level):

. MLB (Astros), NFL (Texans), NBA (Rockets), and MLS (Dynamos)...beyond this, Friday night football and college football have huge Metro-wide support.

. The relative-tepid level of support which the Aeros have received over the years
...particularly in the playoffs with no competing (playoff) activity from the other Sports Classes....
only reinforces the reality that hockey is well-down the Houston Sports food-chain.

. Fans who "don't get this" might want to look at ATLANTA's hockey history: (i) loss of the FLAMES to Calgary-1980 and (ii) loss of the THRASHERS to Winnipeg-2011.

Simply put, NHL Hockey just will not work in some markets, no matter how large their size and area wealth may be.

Anonymous said...

Eventually Houston will have another hockey team; however it will not be in the nhl.
There was a team when hockey did draw more fans than the rockets.
of course that was in the days of the wha for those that can remember that far back.

Anonymous said...


Forecheck said...

Guys, the Aeros haven't left yet.

The last lease in 2008 was signed in late April (though generally agreed to a few weeks before). It seems both sides are talking, which is good.

Alexander needed to see how the NHL CBA went to evaluate his options.

I'm worried too, but no need to jump off a bridge just yet.

Forecheck said...

OK, here's a possibility that entered my mind at the gym tonight.

The Wild, Alexander, and HSA form a JV and tear down the old Astro Arena and build a Cedar Park type facility (8-10K seats). The Aeros stay in the TC for the 3-5 years it would take to design and build the facility. The HSA gets naming rights to offset the taxpayer contribution. The JV runs the arena and owns the Aeros, who are now PRIMARY tennant.

The city gets a smaller venue it lacks for concerts and conventions. The Paul Revere and the Raiders reunion tour can finally play in Houston and not at the CWMP.

The chances of this happening are less than 1%, but it shows the possibilities that can surface in negotiations.

They aren't gone until they are gone. In any event, it doesn't do a lot of good worrying about things that are out of your control.

Anonymous said...

Been at Aeros games since the beginning, although much less so since the move to the Toyota Center so I've seen a lot - and while Houston can support an NHL team, Les Alexander has no incentive to bring one in and take dollars away from the Rockets.

The window for the NHL here was 12-15 years ago, once Les got Toyota Center it was all over unless he wanted a team. Dynamo moved here and sort of sucked up the non ball-and-stick and pointyball crowd and corporate support.

An NHL team would survive here because there are enough big Houston energy companies and law firms that would by season tickets, suites, etc., but I think it would be like Dallas for the non-corporate crowd - good some years, others not so good.

Reality is unless there is a lease deal, the next hope for a team is Les for some reason wanting to fill dates with his own AHL team or Reliant Arena being rebuilt with icemaking equipment.