Summer Blog Entry (June 25)
06/24/2010 9:59 PM - Adrian Denny
The busiest week of hockey since the Stanley Cup is wrapping up with the NHL Awards Ceremony taking place Wednesday night in Las Vegas and the NHL Draft beginning Friday night from Staples Center in Los Angeles where Grizzlies Head Coach Kevin Colley is currently lodged along with the rest of the hockey world. Not to mention, that on Tuesday, the NHL released the 2010-2011 schedule.
News from the ECHL’s Board of Governors meetings last week includes for the first time in a while, some stability in the Las Vegas Wranglers organization and new ownership that will keep the team at the Orleans Arena. That group owns a very successful minor league baseball team in Lake Elsinore, California. Last year, while assisting a fellow Elmore Sports Group team in the Inland Empire, I was able to visit their ballpark and they did a tremendous job in their game presentation. That’s good news for the Wranglers who feature one of the top cities and venues in America for minor league hockey.
The other news includes the renaming of the National Conference to the Western Conference and the American Conference to the Eastern Conference. The Grizzlies division with Alaska, Idaho and Victoria will be known as the Mountain Division, narrowly beating out my suggestion to call it the Mormon Trail Division.
And finally, it was announced earlier this week that the ECHL will have a team in suburban Chicago starting in 2011-2012.
I got an email from former Utah defenseman Mark Lutz this week. He is currently working in banking in Boston and was interested to know that former Utah defenseman and Assistant Coach Jeff Dwyer is also currently based in Beantown.
Summer Blog Entry (June 18)
06/18/2010 8:43 AM - Adrian Denny
There was an execution by firing squad, the University of Utah announced it was moving from the Mountain West Conference to the PAC 10, Chevron did their BP impersonation in Red Butte Creek and Jerry Seinfeld performed in Salt Lake while Steve Martin strummed on his banjo. Hopefully you were enticed by one of these, because in the world of hockey not a whole lot of news occurred as far as the Utah Grizzlies are concerned in the past seven days.
However up north in Idaho, it appears nearly official that the Grizzlies closest regional rival will officially begin their search for a new Head Coach with Derek Laxdal apparently off to the WHL. ECHL teams, many of whom over the last few years have eliminated the position of their Assistant Coach to save money, may start to see one of the negatives to that when they have to start from scratch to replace a Head Coach. The Steelheads though have never had an Assistant Coach and nothing has been reported in terms of candidates who might be mentioned to succeed Laxdal. I honestly don’t have any idea either on where that operation will begin to look to replace him.
Another former Utah Grizzlies player has been named Head Coach of an NHL team. Longtime New Jersey Devil John Maclean, who also spent time playing with San Jose, the Rangers and Dallas; was named Head Coach of the New Jersey Devils earlier this week. He played five games with Utah during the 2001-2002 season.
The ECHL’s Board of Governors held their summer meetings in Las Vegas this week. These are the meetings where it usually is voted on to change playoff formats, division alignment, vote on new member teams, etc. While it is not my position to discuss or report on any of this before the league announces the results of the meetings, I think it is safe to say that there won’t be any real breaking news.
While in Las Vegas this week, the easily most recognizable face at the ECHL meetings was former New York Rangers General Manager Neil Smith who is the owner of the ECHL’s Greenville team that will begin play in October after moving from Johnstown.
And finally it always could be worse right? I have found something more loud and obnoxious than the constant ring of cowbells at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena. If you’ve watched the World Cup, which I won’t, you know what I mean.
Summer Blog Entry (June 11)
06/11/2010 8:29 AM - Adrian Denny
The offseason is starting to shift into gear as far as the Utah Grizzlies are concerned. In the last week, the team selected seven 2009-2010 players to issue qualifying offers to on July 1st. In addition, a few more will receive standard player contracts on July 2nd. From that point on, player signing announcements will begin to be announced. And finally, one player’s rights will go to the Florida Everblades to complete the February 1 trade that sent Steve McJannet to Utah.
One of the most influencing coaches that Kevin Colley played for in his career won a Stanley Cup Wednesday night in Chicago Assistant Mike Haviland. Haviland coached his captain Kevin Colley to the 2003 Kelly Cup in Atlantic City. Haviland was mentioned for a couple of NHL coaching vacancies last year and will likely get his chance this year joining Philadelphia Head Coach Peter Laviolette, the Blues and former Alaska Coach Davis Payne, Washington’s Bruce Boudreau and Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon as former ECHL coaches running their own NHL benches.
A former Grizzlies player was named an NHL Head Coach earlier this week when Scott Arniel, who won a championship here in 1995-96 was named Head Coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He becomes the first former Grizzlies player to become an NHL Head Coach. Rob Zettler could be the next. He remains an Assistant Coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs and has been an NHL assistant under Ron Wilson since 2002.
It’s not often that we give you two “Separated at Birth” features in one week, but this is too hard to resist. The New Jersey Devils announced Thursday that they will be moving their AHL affiliate from Lowell, Massachusetts to Albany, New York and unveiled this logo. A logo that looks eerily similar to the broken nose suffered by the Suns’ Steve Nash earlier this spring during the NBA playoffs.
Summer Blog Entry (June 4)
06/04/2010 8:30 AM - Adrian Denny
Now into June, action and news will begin to heat up again. The NHL draft will take place in Los Angeles later this month which will also put all hockey decision makers in one point after a little bit of a lull from the end of their respective seasons until then.
From an ECHL standpoint, right now the only movement is in the coaching department. Mark Morrison and Marty Raymond have been renewed and extended in Bakersfield and Victoria, while everyone is still waiting to see where Idaho’s Derek Laxdal ends up. Beyond that, after it looked like Raymond and Morrison were also mentioned for AHL Head Coach or Assistant Coaching jobs and might be moving up, they will be staying. And right now, it looks like the National Conference coaching scene will remain pretty stable. That means the balance of power likely stays the same unless one of the eight coaches takes a little extra vacation and lags on the recruiting which has happened before. That will not be the case with Kevin Colley who again is in the office over eight hours a day during his slowest time of the year and plans the same schedule all summer. To refresh your memory on the ECHL’s National Conference balance of power, spots two-eight, finished the year nine points apart. The only wild card right now is if former Elmira Coach Steve Martinson has something brewing with a National Conference team after not having his contract renewed by the Jackals this week. Interpreting this media piece, it sounds like Martinson already has another ECHL Head Coaching job already lined up, so my guess is it’s 50/50 whether he ends up out west or back in the American Conference.
Earlier this week an apparent merger was announced between the CHL and the IHL which to me says the ECHL figuratively passed on the chance to add Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Port Huron, Dayton, Quad City and Flint after last year adding Kalamazoo from the International Hockey League. Even though adding those teams would have made more geographic sense than the CHL. But when has geography ever had anything to do with planning in minor league hockey dating back to the 1980s and before.
Lance Galbraith checked in over the weekend to express his sadness following the death of Gary Coleman last Friday. Galbraith made a personal visit to Coleman as he waited in the green room to drop the ceremonial first puck on February 1, 2010 before Utah’s 4-1 win over Las Vegas.
All five games of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals were decided by one goal as has been the case with the Stanley Cup Finals thus far. The AHL, which is always the last hockey league to finish as to I assume not compete directly with the Stanley Cup Finals opened Thursday night
continuing the one-goal trend as Texas beat Hershey 2-1.