Pete Michaud's Blog
Hello, Admirals fans
Here’s the latest in the Admirals’ world I have for you. As always, feel free to write with questions or suggested topics. You can reach me at Pete@NorfolkAdmirals.com.
March 17, 2010 - Good afternoon from Wilkes-Barre, where it does not quite feel like hockey season. It's chilly, with temps in the upper 40s, but it's very sunny and all the snow we saw the last time we were here is long gone!
The Admirals are clinging to that last guaranteed East Division playoff spot, but Wilkes-Barre is right in their rear view mirror. In their final 12 games, Norfolk will see the Penguins four times, not to mention three outings against the Hershey Bears, so this is going to be very tough! Everybody seems pretty healthy going in. The Penguins are one of the league's best home teams and rank among the better offensive clubs in the league.
The Admirals made the long trek north yesterday after a morning practice at Scope. After a 2pm stop, to everyone's delight, at WaWa, we finally arrived here a little after 7pm last night. It was a VERY crowded bus on the drive up with all the new guys we've added in recent days. It's a very strange feeling to be putting names with faces this late in the season, but with St. Pierre, Marks, Vichorek, Kalemba, Ashton and Panik joining the club the past few days, it almost feels like training camp again. The Admirals get a bit jealous when I tell them the Tides baseball team usually takes TWO buses on its road trips, even though they may only have 3-5 more people in their traveling party.
Speaking of the new guys, tonight could be the debuts of Carter Ashton and Richard Panik, who are rated as the #2 and #3 prospects, respectively, in the Lightning organization. Ashton is just 18, and Panik is 19, so we shouldn't expect them to come in and save the day. It will, however, be a good taste of the pro game for both. With these new players, the Admirals now have 3 extra forwards, so it will be interesting to see who sits tonight. Will Leigh Mendelson get to make that call on his own or will the Lightning have something to say about it? There are no such debates on the blue line. The Admirals remain thin on defense, with no extra bodies.
Expect Dustin Tokarski in net again tonight,...and every night for the time being. Jaroslav Janus, out with an injury, did not make the trip, nor did defenseman Kevin Quick. The Admirals only have one run of three-games-in-three-days the rest of the season, so I wouldn't be too concerned about 'Tic' getting worn out. He wants to play every game, anyway.
We'll see you on the radio (6:50 p.m. tonight on STAR 1310-AM, star1310.com or ahllive.com). Later....
March 2, 2010 - Hi Admirals fans,...
I just got back to the hotel after today's practice session here in Wilkes-Barre. It was a very different looking team with Mark Parrish and Brandon Bochenski gone. Both have been called up to Tampa to join the Lightning, who host Philadelphia tonight in their first post-Olympic break contest. The Admirals were also without defenseman Kevin Quick, who was lost to an injury Sunday in Syracuse.
On the plus side, goalie Jaroslav Janus was back with the team today, so the Admirals have their 'one-two' tandem back together again. Although it's not definite, I would think Dustin Tokarski gets the starting nod tomorrow here against the Penguins. Forward Justin Keller also took park in practice today, so he'll hopefully feel up to playing tomorrow. Keller has missed all 4 games on the road trip after suffering an injury in the team's last home game. Even if Keller plays, the Admirals will be a man down down due to the losses of Bochenski and Parrish unless they bring someone up from the ECHL or another lower league.
Tomorrow's game will be huge, and the Admirals' opponent has been red hot. Wilkes-Barre is 7-2-0-1 in its last 10 games, which includes a win and a shootout loss to the league's top team, Hershey. If the playoffs started today, the Penguins and the Admirals would both be in.
The game tomorrow will be our first here since the building changed its name. What was Wachovia Arena is now Mohegan Sun Arena, named for the Mohegan Sun casino at Pocono Downs, which is about 10 minutes north of Wilkes-Barre. It's a smaller version of the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. The name change took place in late January.
I'm not much of a gambler, so I've never been to the casino here, but I could drop by there tonight. Or, I could find something else to do...like watch live wrestling! There is a flyer hanging from the wall in the locker room advertising a local wrestling card tonight at a local gym that features the assistant equipment manager of the Penguins in one of the matchups. He was 'promoting' the event this morning, trying to talk some of the players into attending. Not sure if he had any luck drumming up business. I'll probably just end up at the sports bar across the street watching the Tampa game.
That's it for now from Wilkes-Barre. Until next time....
March 1, 2010 - Hi everyone, as the Admirals enjoy a day off today here in Wilkes-Barre...
The guys are absolutely exhausted after yesterday's tense, 3-2 win at Syracuse. Four games in 5 days in difficult physically, but it's the travel and the lack of sleep that are the real problem. From one day to the next, the schedule never stays the same. One day, you're up early in the morning. The next, you sit on a bus for 8 hours (or more) until arriving at a hotel at 4 or 5am. Thankfully, today is a COMPLETE off day for the players...no practice, no off-ice workouts,...nothing! The coaches and support staff will still be working (blogs don't write themselves!), but it will still be a good day. The team gets back to a normal practice regiment tomorrow.
The Admirals arrived here in Wilkes-Barre about 9pm last night after the ride from Syracuse. It was a strong performance against the Crunch, especially in the 1st and 3rd periods. Juraj Simek played the hero's role with 2 goals, including the game-winner with about 4-minutes to play.
After the game, Simek and defenseman Vladimir Mihalik got a kick out of reading a summary of the game posted on a website called boltsprospects.com. The writer for that website has creatively taken to calling Simek, Mihalik and goalie Jaroslav Janus 'The Presov Mafia,' a reference to the Slovakian birthplace of all three. Simek is called the 'don' of the group, while Mihalik, being that he's the biggest of the bunch, is the 'Luca Brasi,' a reference to the enforcer from 'The Godfather' films. Mihalik jokingly wanted to know why he couldn't be the 'don.' Simek offered back with "You can be the 'don' when you score 20 goals." Mihalik sharply replied, "If I had as many chances as you, I'd have 40 goals by now!" Everyone got a good laugh at that one. You have to be able to take it just as well as give it when you're in the locker room or on the team bus. The comment was especially humorous because Mihalik is one of the quieter guys on the team and Simek probably talks more than any human I know! Mihalik has slowly come out of his shell, though, as he's become more and more comfortable with the language and the culture here. His play on the ice has been solid, as well, especially with a tremendous month of February. By the way, there are those within the Admirals camp who think that I write the Admirals summaries for boltsprospects.com since the writer's name is Pete. It's not me, however. I do think, though, that I may have to steal the "Presov Mafia" tag for use in some future broadcasts! Janus, by the way, should be back with the team either today or tomorrow. Matt Lundin, who served as Dustin Tokarski's backup the last 4 games, is heading back to his team in Muskegon.
The only bad part of last night was the loss of defenseman Kevin Quick, who went down with an ankle injury in the 2nd period. Kevin did not return to the game. I'll have to wait until I get an 'ok' from the team before we pass along any more news regarding his injury. If Quick is lost for any length of time, it's a real shame, because he had played very well the last 2 nights after finally getting back in the lineup.
OK,...so I lied. There was more bad news last night...IF you're an American. The players just got in the locker room after their game just in time to get news of Sydney Crosby's overtime game-winner at the Olympics. The Admirals camp was pretty evenly divided on that one. If you include the coaches and support staff in with the players, we have 13 Americans on the bus, 12 Canadians and 2 Europeans. I don't think Simek and Mihalik cared too much about the gold medal game after Slovakia blew the bronze medal the night before against Finland. By the way, 3 of 4 former Admirals who took part in the Olympics came home with medals (Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook of Canada - Gold, Lasse Kukkonen of Finland - Bronze).
The next 2 or 3 days could go a long way in determining the Admirals' fate this season. The NHL resumes play tonight following the Olympic break, and the Tampa Bay Lightning get back at it Tuesday night versus Philadelphia. NHL play means NHL callups, so we'll wait to see who the Admirals might lose to the big club. Then, and perhaps more importantly, comes Wednesday's NHL trade deadline. Might the Lightning be tempted to offer a young prospect, or a seasoned veteran, perhaps, in a deal to get themselves over the hump and into the playoffs? I'll be nervously watching the events of the next few days.
Of course, the Admirals have a huge game Wednesday here against a Penguins club right behind them in the division standings. Wilkes-Barre has been hot, going 7-2-0-1 in its last 10 games, and the Pens would be in the playoffs if the postseason started today. They have 3 games in hand on Norfolk, so the Admirals' 7-point edge over the Penguins isn't as comfortable as it might look. Even if they lose, Norfolk will come home with a winning record for the trip, which is great. A win and a 4-1 trip would be incredible, however!
That's it for now from Wilkes-Barre. The only tough thing left to do now is to decide whether to hit the steakhouse, the sports bar, the Chinese buffet or Cracker Barrel for dinner! Take care.....
February 27, 2010 - Well good morning from Binghamton, as we've finally arrived at 3 o'clock in the morning!
From the looks of things, I'm glad we weren't here Thursday when the storm hit. This place is still under quite a bit of snow.
The Admirals are coming off a tough loss last night in Adirondack. Let's not panic over one setback. Backlund played well in goal for the Phantoms and a bad luck penalty for lifting the puck over the glass gave Adirondack the 5-on-3 power play they needed to win the game. On the flip side, the Norfolk power play is still struggling, and some of the Admirals top players were not very effective last night. Bochenski, Szczechura, Jones, Parrish and Hall has just 4 shots COMBINED! They'll need to be better tonight here in Binghamton.
Mark Parrish left the game last night in the 2nd period after taking a knee from Matt Clackson of Adirondack. Parrish did not return to the game. Mark seemed to be walking pretty well after the game, which is great news, so it's not a bad injury. No word on if he will play tonight, however.
This bus trip seems to have a bad vibe to it. It began with our bus breaking down 10 minutes into the trip. The TV and internet were not working. We've since fixed the television but the internet connection seems a lost cause. The team lost its head coach before we reached Philadelphia. Then, last night after the game, we got on the bus for the ride to Binghamton and found out the post-game food was nowhere to be found. After each road game, assuming we're traveling and not staying in a city overnight, the players and staff order food from a local eatery that is delivered to the bus in the 3rd period. The guys can then eat on the drive to the next city. Usually, a stickboy or some young member of the home team staff will handle the ordering of the food while the players take part in the game. It seems the young man who was supposed to handle that job simply forgot to call in the order. So, the players were left scrambling. Some walked to a Burger King next to the rink to eat. Coach Ben Eaves found a nearby Domino's and picked up a dozen or so pizzas for everyone else. Sometimes, you just have one of those trips where everything seems to go wrong.
The one saving grace last night was getting to watch the last half of the Canada-Slovakia semi-final game at the Olympics. Admirals' defenseman Vladimir Mihalik, who is Slovakian, told me when the Slovaks were down 3-0 that they would come back and win. I offered him a $20 wager, but he wanted me to give him odds, which I said 'no' to. Good thing. I would have been quite nervous watching that dramatic finish. Guys were yelling and screaming as the Slovaks frantically tried, but failed, to get a third goal and lost, 3-2. I think everyone is a bit disheartened that we won't be able to watch the gold medal game Sunday between the USA and Canada.
On a final note, the Admirals coaching stuation remains a hot-button topic. I've stated my opinion that Leigh Mendelson should probably run the club for the rest of the season. I'm not saying it's a perfect solution. Obviously, things were going great with Jim Johnson here and as Admirals fans we didn't want to see anything change. No one knows for sure how Leigh will do over a long run as head coach, but who knows what might happen if they bring in someone from the outside with just 15 or so games left? There are no guarantees, but I just think the team's odds are better with Leigh. No matter who gets the job permanently, it may be a no-win situation for him. If the team keeps doing well, people will say it's because of the improvement made under Johnson's watch. If the club falters, fans will blame the new coach.
Frankly, I think we should probably be more concerned about what could happen in week or so when the NHL trade deadline hits than the coaching situation. Tampa is fighting for a playoff spot, so they may be buyers at the deadline this year. What might that mean for the Admirals? We'll soon find out.
That's it for now from Bingo. It's 4am as I writre this, so I think I'll call it a night (or a 'morning?'). Until next time, take care.
February 26, 2010 - Hello from Glens Falls, New York....
A light now is falling this afternoon as the Admirals ready for a key contest tonight against a desperate Phantoms team coming off a devastating loss Wednesday to Syracuse. The Admirals, meanwhile, are feeling pretty good after their win at Binghamton, but will have to be better tonight. I just got back from the morning skate. Things are fine here in terms of the weather, in contrast to the massive snow storm that hit places south and west of us last night. I hear some places by Binghamton got close to 20-inches of snow!
Leigh Mendelson is off on the right foot, now 1-0 as the team's interim head coach. Here's a question I think may have been forgotten in the midst of all the speculation about who should get the job now that Jim Johnson has gone to Tampa...Does Leigh WANT the job? I think we always assume coaches want to move up under any circumstances, but that's not always the case. By the way, now that he's our head coach, for the moment, let's all try to spell his name correctly. It's not LEE, it's LEIGH! If you're a friend, you can call him 'Lido,' which always has me humming the Boz Scagg's hit 'Lido Shuffle.'
The Admirals were an amazing 13-2-1-1 in 17 games under Johnson. Even if Jim had stayed, I think it's unrealistic to expect the club to continue to win at that clip, so let's keep that in mind in the next few weeks regardless of who ends up behind the bench. At this point in the season, it's really up to the players, anyway.
The team had a day off the ice yesterday here in Glens Falls, just going to the rink for some treatments or to play some soccer or just stretch a bit. Everyone was on their own last night for dinner. I ventured out with Leigh and our trainer, Brad Chavis (known to us as 'Chavy'), and our equipment manager, J.W. Aiken (We call him 'Dubsy' or just 'Dubs'). We went out to a nice little brewery cafe called Davidson's. While I stayed on the less expensive side of the menu, the place had some very pricey dishes, but gave us our drinks in paper cups. I've never been to a place with $26 entrees that gave you a drink in a paper cup. When we casually asked about it, we were told we could have a plastic cup if we wanted it. I guess there must be a glass shortage in Glens Falls.
Well,...as for tonight's game, we expect no changes. Dustin Tokarski should be goal again. Even though Finland in the semi-finals at the Olympics, taking Antero Niittymaki from the Lightning, I hear that Jaroslav Janus, currently in Tampa to replace Niittymaki, could be back as early as tomorrow, even if the Fins win today. Justin Keller remains out with an injury, and is doubtful for the weekend.
There should be a good crowd tonight. This is a small community, but they are supporting this team. There are small signs sticking from the snow banks and hanging from street signs on the side of the town's main street that read 'Phantoms Home Game Tonight.' Game time is 7:30pm, so I'll talk with you at 7:15pm on Star 1310 and star1310.com later tonight! Take care....
February 25, 2010 - Hello from Glens Falls, New York, where the rain won't stop! There is quite a bit of snow on the ground here, but the temperatures today are above freezing, so it's just rain for the moment. It's supposed to get very windy and colder, with some light snow possible overnight or tomorrow. The rain has kept me inside for the moment...watching women's golf, but that's fine by me! The Admirals face the Adirondack Phantoms here in 'Hometown USA' tomorrow night at 7:30pm.
Goalie Jaroslav Janus is with the Lightning right now, giving the big league club another goalie while Antero Niitymaki is away with Team Finland at the Olympics. The Fins blanked the Czechs last night and have a semi-final date with the Americans on the way Friday. If the Fins lose, we could see Janus back perhaps by Sunday. Otherwise, Dustin Tokarski may be forced to play 3 straight games in 3 days over the weekend, He's young, so I think he can handle it, if it comes to that.
Speaking of the Olympics, the women's final is today, with the USA facing a favored Canada. The men get back at it Friday, with Canada and Slovakia meeting in the other semi-final.
Coming off a nice win last night in Binghamton, the Admirals arrived here in Glens Falls just after 1:00am last night. It was a pretty boring ride, aside from a few guys joking Brandon Bochenski about missing an empty net early in the game. Bo did have a goal, so it was still a nice game for him, even though the Senators' defense really keyed on him all night. We're currently riding on a replacement bus, since our original bus broke down leaving Norfolk on Tuesday. This bus is fine, but the internet connection doesn't work and the TV doesn't work, and our bus driver doesn't seem to have any interest in figuring out what's wrong with either. The guys had hoped to watch some hockey from the Olympics last night, but didn't get to. Players have been watching some movies, instead. Vladimir Mihalik, coming off his huge game-winning goal last night, borrowed 'Gran Torino' from me. The guys in the back of the bus watched 'Law Abiding Citizen' the other day. Bochenski has advised me not to loan my movies to the back of the bus because I'll probably never get them back!
After arriving from Binghamton, we went straight to the arena to bring in all the equipment, so we didn't get into the hotel until about 2am. When the Admirals are on the road and getting into a new city, the players and staff will usually help unload the bus and trailer when we arrive in the next city, if the team isn't playing the next day. That was the case last night, since the club doesn't have a game today. With everyone chipping in, it probably takes 20 minutes to bring everything in and set up. If the guys have a game the next day, however, they usually go right to the hotel to get as much rest as possible. That leaves our equipment manager, J.W. Aiken, and trainer, Brad Chavis, to do all that work themselves. If they're lucky, they may have a stickboy at a visiting rink to help them, but it's still quite a chore.
As you probably know, yesterday turned out to be quite an eventful day, with Jim Johnson promoted to Tampa Bay as an assistant coach, replacing Wes Walz. Walz was then offered the head coach's spot with the Admirals, but turned it down. Walz was then let go by the Lightning. So, the $64,000 question is this...Who will be the Admirals' head coach for the rest of the season? Assistant Coach Leigh Mendelson handled the job last night with our Video/Strength & Conditioning Coach Ben Eaves moving to the bench to assist him. I assume we'll hear some kind of decision from Tampa Bay G.M. Brian Lawton by the beginning of next week, if not sooner. Will Mendelson be given the job for the remainder of the year, or will the Lightning feel the need to bring in someone else? My 2-cents is this...Leigh is a sharp hockey guy and more than capable of handling the job. He has more than 20 years of coaching experience. He has been with the team all year and knows not only the talents of the players, but the personalities, quirks and idiosyncrasies of the guys, as well. I have serious reservations about anyone else coming in with only 20 games to play trying to implement a new system. And, if you want to keep the same systems, then why not allow the guy who's been here helping implement that system all year to continue doing so? Leigh's downside is that he's not a 'name' guy. He didn't play in the NHL, or anywhere professionally, for that matter, and his coaching experience, prior to this year, had been in the juniors and lower minors...not a league as high as the AHL. Sometimes a guy with great talent isn't given a chance just because he doesn't have that past pedigree, which isn't fair. Also, Leigh would be moving from an assistant's role, which can be a tough transition. Assistant coaches are usually friendlier with the players than the head coach, who needs to keep something of an emotional and professional distance. That's why some assistants aren't given as much fearful respect when they move to a head coach's role. I always felt that hurt Darren Rumble. I think 'Rums' is as sharp a hockey guy as I've ever met. He's such a nice guy, though, that I sometimes wondered if the players respected him as an authority figure as much as they should. To be honest, a head coach needs to be a bit of a jerk, at times. Some players need to be coddled, but others need a sharp kick in the rear. A little mean streak can go a long way. My mother is the nicest person in the world, but it was my dad who got me to clean my room and take out the trash when I was a kid! Does Leigh have that 'streak' in him? You'll never know for sure until he gets a chance and has some adversity to deal with. I, for one, think he can do it. Obviously, the best thing for the Admirals would have been to keep Johnson. That's not going to happen, though. In fact, I think Jim is on the fast track to being an NHL head coach in the future. As for the Admirals, we'll see what happens.
Well, that's it for now from upstate New York. Until next time...
February 24, 2010 - Hi Fans. It's been an exhausting 2 days since yesterday, and since I have to be at the rink in an hour (It's 2:45pm now), I have to make this short,...but here goes.
The team took ALL DAY yesterday to get here, leaving at noon. The bus broke down 10 minutes into the trip, causing us to sit along the road for an hour and half before a replacement bus could be secured. After a stop for an italian dinner and fighting Philadelphia rush hour traffic, we finally arrived to see the snow of Binghamton at midnight last night!
The team had a brisk skate this morning, aside from Justin Keller. He's injured, did not skate, and will not play tonight. Keller tells me he's doubtful for Friday and Saturday, as well, but is hoping he may be able to return Sunday afternoon in Syracuse. Chris Lawrence returns to the lineup with Keller's injury. Kevin Quick should be the other scratch tonight.
Dustin Tokarski gets tonight's nod in net. Jaroslav Janus is in Tampa Bay to give the Lightning a backup goalie for practice while Antero Niittymaki is away at the Olympics with Team Finland. The Lightning returned to practice this afternoon.
Matt Lundin, the brother of Mike Lundin, the Tampa Bay defenseman and former Admiral, has come in to serve as the club's backup netminder tonight.
Tokarksi will debut a new mask in goal tonight. 'Tic' tells me his old mask is off to have repair work done and will hopefully be back in use in a week or two. He's been wearing a new mask, plain white in color, in recent practices, but it will see it's first real game action tonight. Tokarski says the helmet itself is the pretty much the same as his old one, but the cage is slightly different.
Obviously, if you stay in touch with the Admirals and the Lightning online, internet speculation is growing over potential coaching changes. I have nothing to report now, but will find out what's happening and hope to report during tonight's pregame show (6:50pm on Star 1310 and online at Star1310.com).
Take care for now...
February 16, 2010 - Hi everyone from Hartford, where the snow has been falling all day.
The Admirals are coming off a tough loss last night in Albany, but they played hard. The Rats played a great defensive game to get the win.
The team arrived here about 10:30pm last night. Today, players walked over to the XL Center here in Hartford (it's just a 3-4 minute walk) for medical treatments and to just loosen up a bit, but there was no on-ice practice. Those of us who were back at the hotel by noon had the fun of evacuating the building when the fire alarm went off. Fourteen flights of stairs is, at least, much easier going down than it would have been going up! The fire trucks all showed up, but no fire could be found. It seems like we get to endure a hotel fire alarm every 3 or 4 years. I recall one a few years that really rattled Head Coach Mike Haviland. I also remember one at about 3am on a bitterly cold night in Philadelphia during the Trent Yawney years.
On the hockey news front, there is lots of news regarding franchise sales and movement and possible affiliation changes. The Albany franchise has been sold and will relocate to Charlotte, taking the Charlotte Checkers name. It will remain a Carolina Hurricanes' affiliate. The city of Albany is reportedly looking to bring in another team to keep AHL hockey in the Capital District next season. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City will be the home of the previously dormant Edmonton Oilers' AHL franchise. That means Springfield, which has been the Edmonton affiliate for the past 3 years, will be looking for a new affiliation. In the ECHL, the Johnstown Chiefs, one of the league's founding members, are officially done after this year. The franchise is moving to South Carolina. Hopefully, they'll get a team in a lower league to keep hockey in that town.
In a previous blog, I wrote of the strange happenings with a cheesecake owned by Admirals winger Juraj Simek. It seems some kind fans either read or heard of 'cheesecake-gate' and decided to take action. Juraj tells me they made him a nice, homemade cheesecake to replace the one that had been partially pilfered from him. When our Athletic Trainer, Brad Chavis, and our Equipment Manager, J.W. Aiken, heard how the power of the press had helped Simek get a new cheesecake, they wondered if I could help them, as well. J.W. wanted me to tell people he'd lost 25 hot wings that needed to be replaced. 'Chavy' went one better, mentioning that his car had disappeared. I doubt my words will help him with that one! If they do, however, I could use some help also. You never know there's a car dealer in the crowd!
Well, tomorrow's game here will be a big one. Donald Brashear is expected to be in the lineup for the Hartford Wolfpack tomorrow. He was seen working out on the ice this morning here. It should be fun!
Until next time....Stay classy, Norfolk!
February 14, 2010 - Hello from from 'The Capital District' here in Albany, where the Admirals face the Albany River Rats tomorrow afternoon at 5pm.
The Admirals are coming off a great homestand, going 4-1-1 over 6 games. The club still isn't scoring a ton of goals, but they are scoring the big goals at the big times. The defense is still playing well, and Janus and Tokarski have played like seasoned vets, not pro rookies, in goal. With no disrespect to Darren Rumble, who I think did everything he could with the hand he was dealt, the coaching change has sparked something in this team. The Admirals are 10-1-1-1 since Jim Johnson took over behind the bench.
The Admirals won last night without Mark Parrish, who was a late scratch. Parrish was not injured. We learned after the game that Parrish was held out because he was to be called up to Tampa for their Sunday game in New York against the Rangers. In fact, I'm watching that game as I write. Many fans were questioning the waiver situation regarding Parrish, who did NOT have to go through waivers to be called up today. It's my understanding that because Parrish cleared waivers a week ago, he's exempt from going through waivers again for 30 days or until he plays 10 NHL games, whichever comes first. With the NHL's Olympic break about to start, I'm hoping the Lightning will send Parrish right back to the Admirals later today.
The Admirals also played the past 2 games without defenseman Matt Lashoff, who was away on family matters. Head Coach Jim Johnson tells me Lashoff will meet the team here in Albany and should be back in the lineup tomorrow against the Rats.
On a final note, the 'Admirals family' was dealt a difficult blow yesterday when one of our good friends was lost. Mickey Boos, the husband of our long-time Director of Off-Ice Officials, Marie Boos, suddenly passed away yesterday morning. He was only 53. Mickey knew as much about hockey in Hampton Roads as anyone I ever knew. He could vividly recount stories of players from the old Virginia Wings, Tidewater Sharks and Hampton Gulls. He knew the current game just as well. I'd see Mickey most nights either on the concourse talking hockey before games or sitting a few rows in front of the press box watching warmups. I shall miss talking hockey with a really great guy. It just helps remind us that you never know what tomorrow might bring, so take a moment to make sure you enjoy the people you have in your life.
That's it for now. I'll have more from Albany coming up shortly.
January 28, 2010 - Hello from Springfield, Massachusetts, where the snow is really falling today! The Admirals made their way here..just a short 30-40 minute ride..after last night's thrilling win in Hartford. The Admirals are now 4-0 on the road trip with 3 more games to go.
Last night's win was all the more impressive because the guys got the job done without F Ryan Craig or D Lukas Krajicek. Craig was away from the club while his wife gave birth to their baby daughter on Tuesday. 'Craiger' tells us mom and daughter are doing well and he'll be rejoining the club for tomorrow's game here against the Falcons. The story surrounding Krajicek is less clear. Lukas played the opening 3 games on this trip, but was not with the team yesterday. He did not take part in the morning skate nor did he play in the game last night. Rather than speculate, I'll just await word from the Lightning as to Krajicek's status.
The Admirals suffered one injury last night. Tough guy Mitch Fritz suffered an upper body injury and played little in Hartford. The team had originally planned to have newcomer Ryan Cruthers, called up from Reading of the ECHL, for just one game to fill-in until Craig's return. With Fritz hurt and questionable for the weekend now, Cruthers is staying with the team for the time being.
Speaking of newcomers, D David Hale made quite an impact in his Admirals' debut last night against the Wolfpack with a goal and an assist in the victory. Hale is with the club on a conditioning stint, which could last up to 2 weeks, but there's a chance he may just play with the team through the weekend. There's an interesting sidebar regarding Hale. Because he is on a conditioning stint, he is still technically still on the Tampa Bay NHL roster and that means he is bound by NHL regulations. One rule the NHL Players Association has is that teams and its players can not play 3 consecutive days. That's why you never see NHL clubs play Friday, Saturday and Sunday in succession. The AHL, of course, has no such rule, and '3-in-3's,' as we call them, are very common. The Admirals are playing 3 games in 3 straight days this weekend, but Hale, because he is bound by NHL Players Association regulations, can not play in all 3. He can only play in 2 of those games. With Krajicek seemingly out of the picture for the moment and Hale unavailable for one game this weekend, the Admirals will have a huge disadvantage over the weekend. Even if they bring in a player from an ECHL team, he won't be the caliber of Krajicek or Hale.
On a final note, the Admirals are in real need of a criminal investigative team, at least if you ask Norfolk winger Juraj Simek. All AHL teams, when playing a road game in which they travel right after the game, order food from a local restaurant for the post-game ride. Usually, pizza, pasta and sub places are the norm, since that stuff is pretty easy to eat on a crowded bus. That was the case last night, as well. The restaurant, however, also had some nice desert selections, so Simek decided to treat himself with a nice hunk of cheescake covered in a raspberry sauce. The cheesecake, round in size and about twice the size of a hockey puck originally, never made it to Simek in tact, however. When Simek got on the bus, he found that half his cheescake had been eaten by a mysterious cheescake bandit! The cheescake was still in his plastic case, but its integrity had obviously been compromised! No one would own up to the dastardly deed, despite Simek's persistent inquisition. I think Juraj has a suspect or two, but until DNA testing on cheescakes becomes readily available in AHL buses, we may never know the cheescake scoundrel's identity! I can't help but think of the scene from the movie 'There Will Be Blood' in which the main character offers his speech of "I drink your milkshake!" In Juraj Simek's case, there's some mystery character out their taunting him with a chorus of "I eat your cheescake!"
Well, that's it from Springfield. I'm off to battle the snow and head for practice. Take care...
January 26, 2010 - Hello from Hartford, where internet rates are almost as high as insurance costs!
I opted not to pay the 50-cents PER MINUTE internet charge at the hotel's business center, but have found access to a computer to fill you in on what's happening here in Hartford. Despite the internet, the hotel here in Hartford is very nice. It's the only one can I ever remember the team staying at that actaully had a hot tub AND a sauna! Several of the guys made use of both after a grueling weekend. By the way, Keith Phillips from the Admirals office tells me it's only the seventh time the Admirals have swept all 3 games of a '3 games in 3 days' stretch, and that's in more than 80 '3-in'3' attempts over the past 10 years!
Obviously, everyone is in a great mood with the club riding a 3-game winning streak. If the Admirals were just .500 at home, they'd be in the playoff picture right now. There's a long way to go, though, and the team is at least in the hunt, which is all we can ask. I'm not sure if you can credit the recent streak to the coaching change or something else, but I hope they keep doing whatever they're doing. Certainly, the new line combinations that Jim Johnson has been trying have worked pretty well, and players line Mitch Fadden, Matt Fornataro and Dana Tyrell are starting to chip in, which has been huge! The goaltending and the defense has remained solid, as well. I really feared the defense might suffer, which happens to most teams when they start to put more of an emphasis on scoring goals.
The Admirals have yet another tough game tomorrow here at the XL Center, which is right around the corner from our hotel. It's always a nice bonus when you can walk to the hotel. The Wolf Pack have made the playoffs for each of their 12 AHL seasons. That's the longest playoff streak in the league. They have some serious offensive weapons in former Admiral Pierre Parenteau, who has 32 points in just 26 games, and Corey Locke, who is third in the league in scoring.
By the way, if you ever stay in downtown Hartford, they have a nice downtown shuttle service that runs around the city for free. I jumped on it twice earlier today, and was the only person on the bus both times. The driver told me very people use the service, which seems odd to me. Hartford is a nice town,..kind of a 'small big city.' There are lots of very tall buildings, but the downtown area doesn't go on and on and on as if you were in New York or Philadelphia. It's a manageable walk to most places if the weather cooperates. It reminds me a lot of Cincinnati. The only real problem is that so much of the downtown area closes after 6pm. It's a government town, aside from the major insurance companies, so things clear out quite a bit after the standard workday. There are lots of upscale places to eat after dark, however,...a bit like Granby Street, but more spread out. The old state Capitol building is an interesting place to visit. At least today is a good day to be out, with colder weather but lots of sun. Yesterday was warmer, but the rain was so hard and the wind so fierce that the wet stuff was blowing sideways. If it had been cold enough to snow, it would have a been a major snowstorm!
The Admirals are off at practice this afternoon, trying to figure out how they will get the job done tomorrow without their captain. Ryan Craig has left the club to be with his wife, who is about to deliver a baby. 'Craiger' will probably be back sometime over the weekend, maybe even as early as Friday, but the Admirals will have to bring in a new player or go a man short tomorrow night. Thankfully, everyone seemed to come through the weekend healthy...just the basic bumps and bruises that all players deal with all the time.
Well, that's it for now. I probably won't be back online for a few days, but I'll check back in when the Admirals get to Springfield on Thursday. Later....
January 22, 2010 - Hello once again from Springfield, Massachusetts! The team is ready to go for tonight's matchup with the Falcons and we'll see how the Jim Johnson era begins.
One of the great treats of traveling with the Admirals is taking in the unique flavor that each city on the road offers. I've always been a huge fan of places like Portland, Hershey, Wilkes-Barre and Manchester. While there are a few towns that don't thrill me (I'll refrain from naming them here), just about every town has something special to offer...especially when it comes to food!
I'm not one to head for the expensive, 5-star restaurants, but find myself more enamored with small, local diners and the such. Few can compare to the White Hut here in Springfield! Darren Rumble introduced me to the White Hut a few years ago. It's about a 15-minute walk from downtown where the team stays, just over the bridge on the other side of the river in West Springfield. The White Hut is a very small, old-fashioned, 'greasy spoon' kind of lunch counter that features about 12 counter stools and NO tables! During the busy lunch rush, people often stand 2 and 3 deep behind the stools waiting for a seat. Many just opt to eat their food standing up! The White Hut has no menu, because they only serve 3 things...hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries, with the first two items usually covered in grilled onions. They don't even give you a check or write down your order. When you finish eating, you simply walk to the register and tell them what you had and they ring it up. The Honor System still works in some places, I guess! There was an older gentlemen sitting a few stools down from me as I ate there yesterday. According to the cook behind the counter, he was a customer at the White Hut the day it first opened in 1939 and has been a regular ever since! I don't think any of the Admirals players make the trek to the White Hut. For some reason, young people today look at you like you have 3 eyes if you mention the prospect of taking 15-20 minutes to walk somewhere. I suppose it's for the best, however. It's certainly not the healthiest lunch, but it's a great indulgence once or twice a season!
Well,...time to get ready for a big game tonight. Take care.
January 21, 2010 - Hello from Springfield, Massachusetts, where the Admirals are set to embark upon a terribly challenging road trip. Starting tomorrow night, the team faces 7 opponents in 6 different cities in just 10 days! Springfield, tomorrow's foe, isn't having a great season, but they're certainly capable, and with Charles Linglet they have one of the league's leading scorers. Every other team on the trip will be VERY tough. Manchester has led the Atlantic Division almost all year and with goalie Jonathan Bernier they have the league's third best defense. Lowell is one of the league's most powerful offenses and the AHL's #1 power play!. Hartford features Corey Locke, one of the AHL's premier offensive talents and the all-time points leader in AHL All-Star Game history. Adirondack has beaten Norfolk in 4 of 5 meetings this season, and Bridgeport, with a balanced offense led by Greg Mauldin and 2 excellent goalies, has a better record than 5 of the 7 teams in the Admirals' division.
The club left just after midnight last night and had a very uneventful trip up, arriving here just after 9am. It was a strange feeling to leave for a road trip without Darren Rumble on board. As I'm sure you know by now, 'Rums' was relieved of his coaching duties with the team after last Saturday night's home loss to Adirondack. I was very saddened to see Coach Rumble go. He is a good hockey man, and an even better person. He is also one of the most humble people I've ever met. There isn't an ounce of ego. He always treats everyone the same and never considers himself surperior to anyone. He was also a treat to work with. Whether I needed an interview or some inside information (or someone to help me finish an order of chicken wings!), Rums was always accomodating. I know I speak for all of us in wishing him well, and I know he'll still be rooting for the boys. Unfortunately, we all know that "coaches are hired to be fired." Regardless of who you may think is to blame, the club is in last place, and the head coach is usually the guy who takes the fall in those cases.
With Jim Johnson taking the head coaching reigns and Leigh Mendelson moving to the bench during games, the Admirals should be in good hands, however. I'll be interested to see what changes take place in the next few games. The most important element...the players...hasn't changed, so Jim and Leigh will be hard-pressed to make a dramatic impact. You simply don't lose Brandon Bochenski, Mike Lundin and Paul Szczechura, just to name a few, and expect to get the same results. Johnson is a defensive specialist, so we'll find out what kind of plan he has to boost the team's offense. Jim had been running the defensive pairings during games while Rums handled the forwards. I plan to ask him what the coaching assignments during games will now be. Will Jim run the forwards and give Mendelson the defense, or will Jim run the whole show? Trent Yawney did it for the better part of 5 years here, but I don't know of any coaches who do that job singlehandedly today.
The Admirals also have a new coach on the way to join the staff. Ben Eaves, who I recall from his days playing as a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin a few years ago, has been hired to come aboard as the new Strength & Conditioning/Video Coach, basically taking over what had been Leigh Mendelson's role. Ben's dad is a former NHL'er and is now the Head Coach at the University of Wisconsin. Ben's brother Patrick currently play for the Detroit Red Wings. I've not met Ben yet, but I assume he'll be here with us shortly, if not in time for tomorrow's game. With Ben joining the staff and Leigh Mendelson moving to the bench during games, press box staffs around the AHL will now no longer be privvy to Leigh's insightful, colorful and entertaining in-game commentary!
The bus ride to Massachusetts last night had fewer players than I can ever recall. Blair Jones was one of several players that met the club here in Springfield. Jones joined the team after enjoying the AHL All-Star Game festivities the past few days in Portland, Maine. 'Jonesy' continued an Admirals tradition of winning the 'hardest Shot' competition with a blast in excess of 100 miles per hour! Jones joins Rene Bourque, Anton Babchuk and Dustin Byfuglien as former Admirals to win the compeition.
Scott Jackson is ready to return from his recent upper body injury and is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow on defense.
That's it for now. The Admirals are off for an early afternoon practice at a nearby rink, since the MassMutual Center (where they'll play the Springfield Falcons tomorrow night) is unavailable today. Teams were prohibited from practicing during the All-Star break, so Coach Johnson won't have much time to implement any possible changes in the game plan for tomorrow. Take care....
January 6, 2010 - With a 5 game losing skid in tow, the Admirals REALLY need a win here in Wilkes-Barre tonight. To get it, though, they'll have to count on some new faces. Forward Connor Shields joined the team yesterday from Johnstown in the ECHL and should be in uniform tonight. Defenseman Kenny Macauley was also en route to join the club from Stockton of the ECHL, but travel problems kept him from getting in before yesterday's 5pm practice. He was expected to arrive late last night and should be ready for the morning skate today. Dustin Tokarski is expected to make the start in net tonight.
The Admirals are still without Mark Parrish and Dana Tyrell. Parrish is away from the club following the birth of his son on New Year's Eve, but is expected to arrive in Norfolk on Thursday and should be in the lineup over the weekend as the Ads host Syracuse. Tyrell is still suffering the effects of a recent lower body injury and will not play tonight here against the Penguins. He is considered doubtful for the home weekend games, as well. Norfolk has also lost blueliner Ethan Graham, who was released from his tryout contract. I'm not sure if Graham's departure was a Lightning decision or if Graham asked to leave. I'll investigate. I thought he fit in well while he was with us.
The Admirals had a really busy day yesterday, departing at 8am from Scope. The guys at the bus company did a nice job removing the graffiti that someone spray-painted on our bus and trailer in Binghamton last week. This trip's movie selection was 'Inglorious Basterds' with Brad Pitt. We stopped at WaWa for lunch around noon. For a quick stop-and-go, you can't beat WaWa! I recommend the Turkey Bowl with mashed potatoes and stuffing. We arrived here in Wilkes-Barre at 3:15pm, giving the guys only about a half-hour before hopping back on the bus to go to the rink for practice. After a lengthy on-ice workout from 5pm to almost 6:30pm, they got back to the hotel at 7pm.
Almost the entire team then spent the evening at Lucky's Sporthouse, a very nice sports bar/restaurant just a 5-minute walk from the hotel. The reason we all went there was to watch the gold medal game of the World Junior Championships. What a game! The USA blew a late 2-goal lead, but won in overtime on a goal by defenseman John Carlson, who also plays for the Hershey Bears! Hershey needs all the good players they can get, I suppose! I watch a lot of hockey, so I don't get too excited if I'm not calling an Admirals win, but that game had me on the edge of my seat. Many of our players were cheering as they watched the game, with the Canadian guys pulling for their team and the U.S. guys rooting for the their club to end Canada's run of 5 straight junior titles. Making it all the more interesting was watching Matt Lashoff, whose brother, Brian, was playing in the contest for the USA. I wonder what Dustin Tokarski and Dana Tyrell thought, since both played on Canada's championship club last year.
Well, that's it for now from frosty Pennsylvania. The Admirals are 8 points from the last playoff spot right now, so they need to make up some ground. As it stands right now in the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Division would grab 5 playoff spots while the East Division would only get 3. The team holding that third spot in the East Division is Wilkes-Barre, so tonight's matchup is what we call a 'four point game,'...win and Norfolk is within 6 of the Pens,..lose and drop 10 points behind them.
On a final note, the Admirals Hour this week will not be heard at its usual time of 6pm Thursday due to a conflict with ODU basketball on ESPN 94.1 FM. So, the show can be heard live from Scope FRIDAY at 6pm. We can't take calls on our broadcast equipment, but I'll have some good interviews lined up, so listen while you drive to the game Friday at Scope on 94.1 FM. Of course, the regular game broadcast then begins at 7pm on Star 1310-AM, if you can't make it downtown.
January 2, 2010 - Well, I hope everyone had a nice, safe holiday and greetings from 'The Empire City' of Glens Falls, New York! It was a busy holiday for the Admirals, whose New Year's resolution may be to find some extra players!
First, the excitement began right after the Admirals game in Binghamton on New Year's Eve, when we learned Mark Parrish's wife had gone into labor and had quickly given birth to the couple's second child, a boy. The team helped Mark scramble to make plane reservations to get home to Minnesota, which he did yesterday morning. Through the magic of text messaging, Mark tells us his wife and their newborn son are both doing very well. Congratulations! No word on when Mark will rejoin the club.
The Admirals had an early wake-up yesterday and an 8am bus from Binghamton to Glens Falls, where they'll play in the Adirondack Phantoms' home rink for the first time ever tonight. The 3-hour ride north was interrupted by a call from the Tampa Bay Lightning telling us that Brandon Bochenski would be needed by the big club. We made a quick detour to drop Bo off at the airport in Albany. He certainly deserves the callup, but the team is really hurting to lose Bochenski and Parrish in just a matter of hours. Interestingly, I recorded an interviewed with Bo 2 days ago for use during tonight's broadcast in Adirondack. Among my questions was one in which I asked him how surprised or disappointed he was that he'd not been called up to Tampa yet! In the words of William Shatner in the classic film 'Airplane 2,'..."Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes!"
After dropping Bo at the airport, the team grabbed a quick meal at a Subway. By the way, asking a hockey player if he only wants a 6-inch sub is like asking Kim Kardashian if she only wants a LITTLE attention! Then, it was off to the rink for an afternoon practice. It was good to see Dana Tyrell back on the ice briefly for yesterday's practice, but I don't know if he's ready to return to action. Dana missed Thursday's game with a lower body injury. We didn't get settled into the hotel until about 2:30 in the afternoon.
The Admirals are staying at a very unique, old hotel here in the Glens Falls area called The Queensbury Hotel. It was built in the 1920s! While modernized in many ways, it still has many older, charming features one simply won't find in today's modern hotels. I especially love the glass doorknobs and the mail slots along each elevator shaft that drop mail down to the front desk!
A few other notes to pass along before tonight's game here against the Phantoms. G Jaroslav Janus, signed by the Lightning to an entry level deal, should be with the club tonight, giving the Admirals 3 goalies. No word yet on who starts, who backs up or who sits tonight. lf the Admirals don't get a forward to fill-in with the departures of Bochenski and Parrish, we could possibly see Kevin Quick move up to play a wing. He's done it once or twice already this year. Lastly, wasn't it great to see Shawn Thornton and Michael Leighton, both former Admirals, playing in the Winter Classic yesterday in Boston? The only bad thing about an afternoon practice yesterday was that we missed the first half of the game! What a great finish, though!
That's it for today. Now, I must decide what to wear for tonight's game, since my New Year's Eve upgrade to a tuxedo and black bow tie only got the team 1 point instead of two! Maybe I'll try a John Brophy bolo tie next. I'm also trying to mentally ready myself for at least a 10 hour bus ride home. Thankfully, I got the TV satellite system working again after it failed to cooperate on the ride up. We'll need it tonight, since the team won't get back to Norfolk until about 8-9am Sunday. They'll turn right around on Tuesday and head back north to Wilkes-Barre for the final game of the 3-game road trek.
December 31, 2009 - Hello and happy New Year from Binghamton, where the snow is falling! The Admirals await a big test here tonight in the hopes of ending a 3-game losing skid. The day got off to a unique start when we walked outside to find that someone had spray-painted our bus and trailer overnight! The area painted wasn't too large, thankfully. It looked like some sort of school logo or emblem, so thankfully it was nothing offensive.
F Dana Tyrell will miss tonight's contest with a lower body injury suffered in Tuesday's home loss to Hershey. He did not skate at yesterday's practice or this morning's skate. D Kevin Quick, although healthy, will probably be the team's other scratch. G Dustin Tokarski is expected to be in net once again. Although his stats have taken a bit of a hit in the past few games, he's actually played pretty well. The defense just hasn't quite done the job in front of him. You can really see the impact of Mike Lundin's departure to Tampa.
Speaking of Lundin, I was not surprised he didn't make the AHL All-Star team, although I think he's certainly deserving. Unfortunately, defensemen that don't put up big offensive numbers don't usually get noticed. Lundin, who has been called the 'team's MVP' by Head Coach Darren Rumble, is the kind of player you need to see every game to really appreciate.
The Admirals will be represented at this season's All-Star Classic by Brandon Bochenski, who is having another top-notch season. I don't think Bochenski had been giving too much thought about making the All-Star Game lineup, however. When informed yesterday of his selection, Bochenski's first reaction was, "Where IS the All-Star game this year?" Thanks to great online voting support from the fans, Bo will be a STARTER for this year's game!
The Admirals got to Binghamton yesterday and had a late afternoon practice. Because a high school basketball tournament was using the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, the team practiced at an old local ice rink, which quickly reminded me a bit of Iceland in Virginia Beach, but with far FEWER ammenities! Martins Karsums, the Admirals' Olympic-bound forward from Latvia, put it in these words, "Even the rinks in Latvia are better than this!" The players dressed in some sort of small storage area, with some guys sitting on lawn chairs! As for the coaches, the entrace to their 'dressing room' had one word on the door...'MEN.' The practice will be remembered for two things. First, it was brutally cold...colder in the rink than it was outside. You could have hung meat in there! I'm guessing the temperature was easily in the 20s at ice level. The players, even while skating, said they could never get warmed up. Second, forward Chris Lawrence temporarily 'borrowed' a pair of figure skates from the rink's skate rental room, put his number 18 on the skates in white stick tape and wore them on the ice for warmups before practice really started. Everyone got a good laugh watching 'Larry,' as his teammates call him, toepicking his blades into the ice and falling flat on his face 3 or 4 times. He attempted a couple of figure skating 'jump spins,' but didn't quite have the grace of Nancy Kerrigan!
Well, that's it for now. Enjoy the New Year, and be safe out there. And if the weather where you are is anything like it is here in Binghamton, make sure your pets are inside, as well. They need a good start to the New Year also!
December 16, 2009 - Hi again, fans! Sorry I’ve been away for a bit. A few things have cropped up lately that have cut into my blogging efforts. Among them…some serious technical issues that have my computer on the shelf, perhaps for good! Anyway, I’ve managed to borrow a computer here so I can get back to my blog.
We’re nearing the Christmas holiday, and this usually seems to be about the time the playoff-caliber teams start to make their moves. The Admirals find themselves in 5th place in the East Division, but that’s not bad considering all the road games the club has played over the past 6 weeks. Speaking of road games, it was quite a thrill to once again play in the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, as the Admirals recently beat the Adirondack Phantoms there. I’m sure it was especially memorable for our Assistant Coach, Leigh Mendelson, who is a Philadelphia native. Leigh normally works from the press box during the games, handling video duties, but was given a chance to coach from the bench for that game in his hometown. Leigh had nearly 20 friends in attendance that night. Head Coach Darren Rumble, however, figured he’d have some fun with Leigh before the game when he concocted a fake email supposedly from the AHL’s front office stating that only 2 coaches are normally allowed on a team bench during games and if any additional coaches were to work the bench they would be required to wear a helmet! Leigh says he wasn’t fooled for a second by the gag, but I thought the email looked pretty authentic. I’d love to see a coach in a nice suit and tie wearing a helmet on the bench. I joked that Leigh should be required to wear a helmet with a full cage attached!
With the season’s midway mark not far away, I’m glad to see that Scott Jackson is getting some richly deserved attention. I’ve been mentioning Scott quite a bit during recent broadcasts for the tremendous improvement he’s made since the season’s start. Now, I’d probably have to consider him the team’s second-best defenseman behind only Mike Lundin. Jackson was honored by the team’s booster club before last Saturday’s contest at Scope as the Admirals’ November Player of the Month. Ryan Craig was the winner of the award for October.
November 23, 2009 – Well, hello from Wilkes-Barre! The road-weary Admirals are enjoying a much needed day off after 5 games in 6 days. I know I’m exhausted, so I can only imagine how the guys must feel. The weather on this trip has been great. We were prepared for freezing temps and maybe some snow, but we’ve basically seen it in the 50s with lots of sunshine. That’s the case here today, as well. No practice, today,…just lots of guys with ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs on their hotel room doors. Wilkes-Barre is a pretty good place for an off day. There are several dining options within a short walk…Red Robin, Cracker Barrel, Bob Evans, a Chinese buffet, a steak house, a nice sports bar and a couple of fast food places. And a WalMart is right across the parking lot, which is great since personal supplies tend to run low when you’re on Day 12 of a 14-day trip. I actually enjoy the really long trips, but trying to pack is always a great challenge. No one brings a huge suitcase on the road. All the guys basically get by with a small suitcase, a duffel bag or a simple suitbag. Well, it may be a day without a game, but still plenty of stat and prep work to do. So long for now!
November 21, 2009 – Well, we’re going to really find out something about the Admirals’ defense tonight here in Portland. Matt Smaby and Mike Lundin have been recalled by the Lightning. Lundin has been the backbone of the club so far this year,…the team’s MVP through the opening quarter of the season, if you ask me. One guy who may get more minutes is Scott Jackson, who has probably been the club’s most improved player since opening day. Jackson is playing a smart, hard-nosed, aggressive style that has certainly caught the eye of the coaches. One bright spot on the trip has been a small group of 4 of 5 Admirals fans that came up to follow the team for the the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th games of this trip. They brought all the guys some great oatmeal & raisins cookies and pumpkin muffins, which were much appreciated. All players around the league get meal money on the road. It can disappear pretty quickly if you’re not careful, especially if you use it to shop or entertain yourself at the movies or elsewhere on an off day. A little snack for the bus or in the hotel is really appreciated. Of course, the booster club supplies snacks for the team on their bus for every trip. They are a life-saver! Fruit, trail mix, pretzels, crackers, yogurt, water & Powerade are just a few of the basics we have every trip.
November 19, 2009 – Coming off back-to-back wins, the Admirals enjoyed a day off today in Manchester, although they did have a brief practice at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The session was highlighted by a game in which the team is divided into 2 squads with 3 pucks in play at once. What makes it really unique is that everyone, aside from the goalies, have to play ‘opposite hand.’ Left-handers have to play right-handed, and vice-versa. It’s pretty comical to see these talented, professional athletes looking so uncomfortable. Brandon Bochenski was the only guy I saw with looked like a pretty good shot from the opposite side. D Matt Smaby, nursing a hand injury, was the only player who was not on the ice.
November 14, 2009 – Well, the team’s travel adventures continue. The bus company we use sent a new bus to carry us through the remainder of our road trip, although it didn’t arrive until midway through the game last night in Hershey. The bus that normally carries the Hershey team transported the club to and from the rink both yesterday morning for practice and yesterday afternoon for the game. Just as the game was about to end, it was discovered that our replacement bus did not have the proper hitch installed to bring along the team’s equipment