A look into the world of the American Hockey League outside of just the normal game re-caps.
Travis Green turns down Penguins, to head back to Utica
By John Pitarresi | Utica Observer Dispatch
Travis Green could have been working in the National Hockey League next season.
Instead, he expects to return to as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets.
Green was offered a job as an assistant to Mike Johnston, the new coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but turned it down. Green was Johnston’s assistant for five seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He took over the team for the second half of the 2012-13 season, when Johnston was suspended.
“Mike Johnston is a phenomenal career coach,” Green said, adding that he had learned a great deal from him. “I have goals and aspirations, and they are to be a head coach in the NHL. I felt it was important for me to continue down the path I laid, and I feel I need to be a head coach a longer period of time.” Read More…
Hard to say goodbye
By Matthew Gourlie | Moose Jaw Times Herald
It may seem like an easy decision: leave a junior team that has missed the playoffs two years running to take a professional job in an organization that has won two of the last three Stanley Cups.
All you had to do was look at Mike Stothers’ face Thursday to see how hard it was for him to leave Moose Jaw.
The former head coach Moose Jaw Warriors was emotional when he talked about his decision to leave the Warriors and take a new post with the Los Angeles Kings American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester.
“It’s been a terrific three years. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” said Stothers. “As excited as I am to move on, it’s tough. The community means a lot to me, the Warriors mean a lot to me and (GM Alan Millar) means a lot to me. Read More…
AHL: Hershey Bears name Troy Mann as head coach
HERSHEY — The Hershey Bears announced today that Troy Mann has been named the 25th head coach in the history of the Hockey Club, and that Bryan Helmer has been named assistant coach. The announcements were made by Washington Capitals Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian MacLellan and Bears President/General Manager Doug Yingst.
Mann, 44, returns to Chocolatetown for his first AHL head coaching role as the leader of the American Hockey League’s eldest and most storied franchise. Having helped guide the club to the 2010 Calder Cup championship and three subsequent postseason appearances, Mann returns to oversee the 2014-2015 Hershey Bears.
“Once again the Hershey Bears had an abundance of outstanding candidates interested in guiding the Hockey Club,” Yingst said. “After a successful return to the head coaching role last season, and after four proven years here, I am thrilled to welcome Troy Mann back to Hershey.”
Mann, a native of Campbellton, New Brunswick, helped turn the season around for the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors in 2013-2014. The Condors advanced six games into the Western Conference finals under Mann’s leadership, the furthest the team has ever played. Bakersfield finished with a regular-season record of 36-30-2-4 under Mann, good for second in the ECHL’s Pacific Division. Read More…
Veteran free agents are big, but to be successful at AHL level, you need the kids to perform
July 1, as all of us who follow hockey know, is when the free agency frenzy begins. It is when millionaire NHL players add more cash to the vault, as NHL clubs dole out big bucks and long-term contracts. It is also when some teams have to admit their mistakes of the past and go the route of the buy-out, which means paying off the player so they can free up some cash and cap space.
When the NHL signed their new CBA a year or so ago, it eliminated the $105,000 figure on the bottom end of an NHL two-way contract. This has proven to be one of the main reasons why salaries at the AHL are climbing at a staggering rate. Now, agents can negotiate the bottom end of the two-way contract. As a result, we are seeing more and more AHL players, who would have been locked in at the $105,000 number, are now making in some cases $300,000 or more to play in the American Hockey League. I have my own opinion on how this may start having a significant impact on business at the AHL level, but will reserve that for another time.
However, our league continues year after year to prove that it is a development league and that. without a solid core of good young players. it is tough to be successful. I can go back to our first year in our affiliation with Tampa. Jay Feaster, then the GM and a good friend. went out of his way to sign five good veterans. However, at that time. Tampa had very few good young players in the system. and we struggled. Read More…
Salem’s O’Neill enjoys breakout AHL playoffs, eyes free agency
By Matt Williams | The Salem News
There aren’t many things in sports that match the intensity and energy of playoff hockey, an atmosphere in which some players thrive and others wilt.
Going back to his days in junior hockey, it has always brought out the best in Salem’s Will O’Neill.
This spring, the 26-year-old defenseman had an outstanding playoff run with the St. John’s Ice Caps, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets.
O’Neill led the Calder Cup playoffs in playoff scoring by a defenseman with 16 points on three goals and 13 assists. His 13 assists tied for the AHL playoff lead, and the 16 points were fourth among all skaters as the Ice Caps fell to the Texas Stars in five games in the championship series.
“Playoffs are elevated from the regular season, there’s no doubt about that,” said O’Neill, who made the nearly 30-hour drive home to the North Shore from St. John’s in Newfoundland, Canada last week. Read More…
Coach Derek Laxdal Excited About New Challenge with Texas Stars
Stephen Meserve | 100 Degree Hockey
Coach Derek Laxdal is a busy man. After he flew back to Edmonton today, I managed to catch up with him briefly this afternoon. His next few weeks are looking hectic. He will be in Frisco for development camp the 10th and 11th and then will head to Austin to start looking for housing.
On the move in general:
“You’re going from a really good situation to another really good situation. It’s bittersweet sometimes. We’ve had some great years here but you have to challenge yourself. It’s time to go do it.”
On the process of the hire:
“You hear all the rumors at the end of the year. Once Willie moved on, there’s a process involved where teams get in touch with you. I wasn’t out looking for the job but Dallas did their due diligence looking for a coach. I interviewed at the draft, and I went yesterday to meet with Jim Nill and struck a [three-year] deal.
“I left a good situation here, but it felt right. Jim Nill made me feel really comfortable and welcome. I have a relationship with Scott White from being affiliated and Les Jackson. It was pretty easy to figure out what I needed to do.”
Tampa Bay’s goaltending riches will force tough decisions for prospect, organization
Syracuse, N.Y. — Goaltending depth is great for an organization, but sometimes not so much for the prospects trying to fight their way to playing time.
That challenge is highlighted at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s development camp this week.
Kristers Gudlevskis, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Adam Wilcox are all playing at that camp. Gudlevskis, a second-year pro, and Vasilevskiy, a rookie, will be the Syracuse Crunch’s tandem to start the season.
Adam Wilcox, a sixth-round pick in 2011, will return for his junior season at Minnesota.
Or will he?
Wilcox has already boosted his stock almost as high as it can go with the Gophers. He led the team to the NCAA Division I title game last season and was a finalist for the Mike Richter Award as the top collegiate goaltender. Read More…
Veteran player signed by Bulldogs
There’s a new growl in town.
The Hamilton Bulldogs have signed forward T.J. Hensick to a one-year American Hockey League contract for the 2014-15 season.
Hensick split last season between the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and the Swedish Hockey League’s MODO. In 42 regular season games with Hartford, the 28-year-old had 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) and no penalty minutes. In 31 regular season games with MODO, the Lansing, Mich., native registered 15 points (four-11) and two penalty minutes. Read More…
Column: IceCaps recap
By Brendan McCarthy | The Telegram
Five gone, three coming back and, even then, one of the latter may be ticketed for a job in Winnipeg.
When it comes to the ins and outs of the St. John’s IceCaps, it’s been a busy week.
Then again, it’s been busy throughout pro hockey, what with last weekend’s National Hockey League Entry Draft and the start of NHL free agency on Tuesday, all contributing to the irony that one of the most hectic times for a sport played on ice in winter comes in the heat of early July.
For the American Hockey League’s IceCaps, that activity — at least in terms of public announcements — began Saturday when the parent Winnipeg Jets traded goaltender Eddie Pasquale to the Washington Capitals in a deal that netted the Jets a couple of seventh-round draft picks. Pasquale had been set to become a restricted free agent and Winnipeg had the option of retaining his services with a qualifying offer, but his place on the organizational depth chart had been taken by Michael Hutchinson and his standing in the organization hadn’t been helped by his February decision to undergo season-ending hip surgery, one which never seemed to have the blessing of the Jets.
Next to go was defenceman Zach Redmond, who immediately took advantage of his unrestricted free-agent status on July 1 and accepted a two-year, one-way deal with the Colorado Avalanche. He was followed by two of St. John’s four leading scorers last season — forwards Kael Mouillierat, who received an NHL deal from the New York Islanders and Andrew Gordon, who’s joining the Philadelphia Flyers’ organization. Read More…
New deal gives Jason Akeson a chance to stick with Flyers
Dave Isaac, WIL | Delaware Online
It seemed like a run of the mill call-up late last season when the Flyers summoned Jason Akeson. He played in the regular-season finale – for the second straight year –and performed well.
Then the 24-year-old winger played well in the playoffs against the New York Rangers on a line with Matt Read and Sean Couturier.
Next season, he might contend for a roster spot. The Flyers gave him a one-year, two-way contract Wednesday.
“Hopefully I can make an impact on these guys and stick around next year,” Akeson said April 30 after the Rangers defeated the Flyers in Game 7. “That’s my plan going into next year and this summer, just working hard and making sure I’m in the best shape of my life.” Read More…
Former Crusaders/Gophers defenseman finds his groove in pro hockey
Mick Hatten, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nate Schmidt was doing something all athletes hate. On top of that, his former team was playing for a title he could have had a hand in.
Overall, though, Schmidt was pleased with his first full season of professional hockey. The defenseman and St. Cloud Cathedral High School graduate bypassed his senior year at the University of Minnesota to turn pro.
When the Gophers were playing Union in the NCAA Division I championship game, Schmidt was watching from his home in Hershey, Pa. Schmidt finished the season in the American Hockey League, playing for the Hershey Bears.
“I was really happy for the guys and the seniors who put in the work to get there,” Schmidt said of the Gophers playing for the title. “I cherished my three years there more than anything. Read More…