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March 11, 2009

Pete Michaud: Hello Admirals Fans!


    Hello, Admirals fans?

    As the season winds down, there?s much to discuss in this edition of my blog.

    As I write this, the Admirals are on the road in the midst of a 5-game, 8-day road trip. Life on the road isn?t as great as it might seem, and an ?off day? often times is anything but! The Admirals recently played in Wilkes-Barre and were set for an 8am departure the next morning for Albany. The players and staff were up by 7am for breakfast and were ready to go an hour later when an officer with the Pennsylvania Motor Transit Authority (or something like that) dropped by to check out our bus. He found some minor infraction regarding a backup battery and wouldn?t let us leave until it was repaired. We waited nearly 2 ? hours until the battery was brought to us. Wade Brookbank told me ?I fell asleep when I got on the bus, woke up 2 hours later, and we were still in the same spot. I knew that wasn?t good!? With a 3 hour ride to Albany, we missed a scheduled noon practice. We got to the hotel about 1:30pm, left for a rescheduled practice at the arena at RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) at 3pm, got on the ice about 4:15pm, practiced for an hour, then went to the arena in Albany to unload the team?s equipment, and finally got back to the hotel about 6:30pm. So much for a so-called OFF DAY!

    Speaking of RPI, it was a very unique place to go. It?s an old structure made of lots of concrete blocks with a low ceiling and old, wooden seats. It has a lot of character, though. It reminds me a lot of the old barns we saw in Johnstown and Toledo during our ECHL days. Players dress in a cramped, upstairs dressing room and have to walk down a flight of stairs to get to the ice. The rink is also unique in that the team benches are on opposite side of the ice from one another, which makes so much sense, if you ask me (although it is a bit unfair for the guy coming out of the penalty box on the side of the ice opposite his team?s bench). While it?s anything but state-of-the-art, RPI has a great hockey tradition. Players like Joe Juneau and Adam Oates came from RPI, which has won a pair of NCAA men?s titles. A half-dozen of the Engineers current players sat in the stands to watch the Admirals practice.

    The current look of the team has been shaken up quite a bit lately with trades and suspensions. The departure of D Andy Rogers brings to an end a disappointing run for a talented player with tremendous potential who, unfortunately, seemed to be hurt more times than not. With Andy in the final year of his 3-year, entry-level contract, I guess the Lightning figured they wouldn?t be resigning him, so they might as well offer him to someone else. Rogers was part of a strange deal, one that the NHL league office, I?m told, actually looked into before approving. Tampa traded 3 injured players?Olaf Kolzig, Jamie Heward and Rogers (all 3 might be done for the season with their injuries) and a draft pick?to Toronto for a nice AHL defenseman (but with just 2 NHL games under his belt) named Richie Petiot.

    The recent trade of forward Jay Rosehill is also big news. Jay was truly the ?muscle? of this team, leading the club in penalty minutes, most of which came from several memorable fights. I?ll especially miss seeing Jay in the penalty box, with the fan wearing his Rosehill jersey sitting in the front-row seat right next to the box! While some fans are upset over Rosehill?s departure, let?s remember that when a player is let go or dealt away and nothing is immediately received for him (the Lightning traded Rosehill to Toronto for ?future considerations?), it?s usually done for one of two reasons?either the team doesn?t want him..OR?he doesn?t want to be here. I think the club was happy with what Rosehill provided in his role as a 4th line guy who brought energy and toughness in limited minutes. I get the impression, however, that Jay wasn?t always happy with his limited minutes. Unfortunately, the Admirals don?t have as much depth as they would like to send a strong, balanced 4th line on the ice every night. As well, your 4th line doesn?t play much when you?re behind, and the Admirals have been behind too much in the 2nd and 3rd periods of games this season. What I?m saying is?you need to look at a deal from both the team?s and the player?s side before you start getting angry at management for ?getting rid? of a player. I?ve seen lots of times where a player was traded or released as a favor to or at the request of the player, even when the team liked having him. Only Jay and the Admirals? management know exactly what went on behind closed doors, but Norfolk GM Mike Butters said that Rosehill requested the trade. While keeping Jay might have been good for the team in the short-term, do you really want to keep a guy who doesn?t want to be here? I think the Admirals like Jay as both a person and a player. Perhaps that?s why they opted to honor is request. I think it?s unfair to blame Butters in this case.

    On a closing note, the topic of fighting has come to the forefront at the recent NHL General Managers meetings. Coaches, executives, players and fans, by an overwhelming majority, feel fighting has a place in the game and it should not be eliminated. There are, however, arguments to amend rules, such as requiring helmets to remain on during fights, giving additional penalties for ?staged? fights off of faceoffs and calling more instigating penalties when fights come in retaliation for clean hits. For all the talk about fighting, remember this?there are 1.2 fighting penalties called per game (0.6 fights per game) in the NHL this season (as of March 13). Even though that total is slightly up from a year ago, what it means is this?You will, on average, see 6 total fights if you watch 10 full NHL games. People who like to condemn the game and its rough nature make it sound like every game is a fight-filled free-for-all. It?s just not the case.

    Well, that?s it for now. I have to catch a bus. What city am I in tonight? If you have questions or comments, feel free to email. Until next time?

    Pete ( pete@norfolkadmirals.com )




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