Pete's View - October - November 2010
Pete Michaud is The Voice of the Admirals. He bring 19 seasons of experience with the team to the airwaves in 2010-11. He has been the team's play-by-play broadcaster for each of the past 12 seasons. In addition to his work with the Admirals, Michaud also calls Norfolk Tides AAA baseball games.
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Nov 26, 2010 – Hello from The Empire State! I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving. The Admirals celebrated the holiday in Glens Falls, New York, where they play the Adirondack Phantoms here tonight at the Civic Center. The guys are focused on ridding themselves of the memory of the last minute collapse at home on Wednesday against Charlotte.
The Admirals left shortly after the Wednesday home game, making a ten-hour drive to upstate New York. It was a pretty somber mood after the loss. The team went straight to the rink, arriving about 10:30 a.m. They set up the locker room and were on the ice for practice before noon. Head Coach Jon Cooper put the boys through the paces for well over an hour. The guys then went back to the hotel for a team Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s cold here at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, but no sign of snow. Strangely, this will be the second and last trip the Admirals make into Glens Falls this season. The town and rink are quite different from most we see in the AHL. The city itself only has a population of about 15,000 people. It has a very quaint, small town feel to it.
The arena is extremely small, with only about a dozen parking spots out in front. There is only a small entrance lobby and no concourse. In fact, there are just four concession stands in the whole building, with one in the four corners of the rink at the top of each seating section.
I’ve sent along some shots of the Civic Center as well as a photo from inside the arena. If you look at the picture that shows the interior of the rink, you can see my broadcast perch on the left side of the shot hanging over the last few rows of seats right behind a blue sign.
Well, the bus heads for Springfield right after the game, then it’s off to Bridgeport for a Sunday 3:00 p.m. game. The Admirals will stay on the road and practice before continuing the trip with games next weekend in Manchester, Portland and Springfield before coming home.
On a final note, D Vladimir Mihalik is with the team on this trip, although we’re not sure when he’ll play. Vlady has skated on his own, but has yet to return to practice.
That’s the word from Glens Falls. Enjoy your turkey sandwiches and I’ll talk to you on the radio or through the internet. Until next time …
Nov. 22 - After a single home game … a nice win Saturday night at Scope … the Admirals are back on the road again! Hello from Charlotte, where the Admirals square off with the Checkers tonight at 7:00.
The team traveled down to the Queen City yesterday. I’ve often been asked why the Admirals don’t wait to travel until the day of a game when they play at a place like Hershey or Philadelphia (when they were in the league) or Charlotte. "Just leave at 8:00 a.m., stop an hour for lunch and you’ll still be there by 4:00 p.m. for a 7 o’clock game," someone has said to me before. Aside from not getting in a morning skate on game day if you do that, yesterday was a perfect example of why the Admirals try to travel the day before.
After leaving just after 11:00 a.m. yesterday, things we’re going according to plan when we blew a tire on our trailer about 30 miles from Charlotte. Take a look at the picture to see that the tire just basically blew apart. There was almost nothing left on the rim! We got to a truck stop to figure out our next move. The guys took advantage of the delay and the nice weather to play a little soccer game in the parking lot. You can see our bus behind the guys in the picture. In case you’re confused by the picture, the game the guys play is the same one they often play to warm up before games. Players stand in a circle and try to keep the soccer ball in the air using any part of their bodies other than their hands and arms. The last person to touch the ball before it hits the ground is out, but no one can intentionally let a ball drop to put another guy out. The last person left is the winner.
Anyway, after determining that a replacement tire could not be found any time soon, it was determined that we would take all the equipment from the trailer and put it on the bus. It was a tight fit, and some things that wouldn’t fit under the bus would have to go inside with the guys, but we made it work. You can see the players and staff handling the loading duties in the picture.
So, after a delay of maybe 45-minutes, it looked like we were set to get back on the road … but not so fast! We had to detach the trailer from bus. The driver (or someone from the bus company) would come back later to make repairs and reclaim the trailer. Pierre-Cedric Labrie, probably the strongest guy on the team, was called upon to handle the winch to unhook the trailer from the bus … and the thing breaks! It took over an hour to finally get the thing off! So, we finally got on the road after about a two-hour delay and got to Charlotte about 6:30 p.m.
It’s all pretty normal for life on the road in the minor leagues, but it can be a bit exasperating at times. Thankfully, all is well and we're ready for hockey tonight. Well, that's it for this report. I’m off to the rink for today's practice. I’ll talk to you tonight on the radio or in cyberspace. Tune in to 102.1-FM, 1490-AM, 1021TheGame.com or ahllive.com. Later …
Nov 19 – Sorry I haven’t checked in for a few days. It always seems like there’s more to write about when we’re on the road. I spend more time around the players when we’re traveling, so it makes sense, I suppose.
The team had a very LONG day yesterday, finally getting into Wilkes-Barre about 9:30pm last night. It’s about a seven-hour ride here when the team travels at night, but it takes a lot longer in afternoon traffic.
Anyway, the Admirals face the top team in the division, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, here tonight at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Penguins began the season 9-0, and stand 12-2 right now. The ‘Baby Pens’ feature last year’s Norfolk Captain, Ryan Craig.
The Admirals are wrapping up a five-game road trip tonight with some definite challenges in their way. D Mathieu Roy has once again joined F Johan Harju on recall to Tampa Bay. F James Wright was called up to join the Lightning for their wild, 8-7 victory in Philadelphia last night, but has been reassigned to Norfolk and should be here to help the cause tonight. The Admirals will, however, be without D Vladimir Mihalik, who did make the trip. I’ll have more on Vlady’s injury status during the broadcast tonight. Coupling Mihalik’s absence with that of Scott Jackson and the NHL recall of Roy, the Admirals have now essentially lost half of their standard defensive corps. In fact, Head Coach Jon Cooper, who has used 7 defensemen in every game this season, has just 6 available blueliners for tonight’s match-up.
Well, I’m off for now to prep for tonight’s contest. I hope you’ll be listening tonight and remember to come out tomorrow for the game between the Admirals and Adirondack at Scope at 7:15pm. Redskins’ great Chris Hanburger will be there, and it’s Marine Corps night with discounted tickets. And lastly, give yourself some extra time getting to the game tomorrow because of the Grand Illumination Parade and a couple of sold out shows at Chrysler Hall. Until next time …
Nov. 12 - Hi again. We’re in Glens Falls, New York today, where the Admirals play the Adirondack Phantoms tonight at 7:30 p.m. The Admirals are coming off a nice 6-3 win in Albany on Wednesday. Tonight they meet a Phantoms team that has really struggled, so it’s one the boys don’t want to let slip away. According to reports, Norfolk may be without a player or two when they play tonight. Tampa Bay may make a recall before the day is out. I’ll let you know during the pregame if anything happens.
The Admirals stayed in Albany after the Wednesday game and practiced there at the Times Union Center yesterday afternoon. We hopped on the bus and made the hour ride due north to Glens Falls, getting here about 4:00 p.m. yesterday. Several of the guys had a chance to meet up with former Admiral Matt Lashoff, who was here with his new team, the Toronto Marlies, to play against Adirondack last night. The Marlies won the game and Matt was named the #1 star.
Today, I thought I would give you a little insight into the Admirals practice routine. If you ever come to a team practice, you’ll notice guys wearing an assortment of different colored jerseys. These jerseys tell us who is playing together on the forward lines. One group of three forwards wears yellow. One wears red. Another is in white. One is in grey and another don blue. Practice jerseys do not have numbers, so the color is the thing to look for. The defensemen and the goalies all wear black jerseys.
You can take a look at the photos I took at yesterday’s practice (at right) and Wednesday's practice (in my last blog entry) to see what I mean. Each day, the head coach will instruct the equipment manager of what players he wants to skate together for practice. The equipment guy will then take the jerseys and hang them in the locker room stalls of the appropriate players. For many players … like Paul Szczechura, Matt Fornataro and James Wright, who have been together every game this year … they see the same color jersey in their stall each practice, but you never know!
That’s it for now. We’ve got a busy weekend ahead, with 3 games in 3 days in 3 cities in 3 different states, so it’s going to be an exhausting few days. So, I don’t know if I’ll be able to check in over the weekend. If not, I’ll have more for you next week. Take care …
Nov. 9 – Hello on a pretty cold (43 degrees), wet, dreary, dark..dare I say…typical?...November day in Albany, New York, where the Admirals play the Devils tomorrow night. Despite the weather, the downtown area is scenic, especially if you like architecture. There are some magnificent looking old buildings around here, and some great, old churches. In fact, one of them, St. Peter’s Church, dates to the 1850s. It’s right in front of you when you walk out of the downtown hotel the team is at. Check out the picture at right. The team hotel is in the background behind the church. Just about a hundred yards away on the other side of the street is the former homesite of President Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was kind of the ‘Vladimir Mihalik of Presidents’…never fully appreciated for the job he did!
Anyway, the Admirals arrived at 9am today after a 9-hour bus ride through the night. With Blair Jones and Mathieu Roy returning from Tampa Bay and Mitch Fritz traveling (Scott Jackson was the only player not to go on this trip), it was very crowded bus! The boys got to the rink here about 11:30am and were on the ice at 1pm for practice. I’ve sent along a shot from today’s practice as the boys were listening to the coaches map out practice drills (at left). Fritzy, by the way, looked fine in practice, but with several extra players, it will be tough to get into the lineup. It would be nice to have him out there tomorrow with Louis Robitaille possibly in the Albany lineup. The Admirals will have to scratch 4 players tomorrow.
For a few moments, I thought I might be a scratch! I took my first puck to the face in practice today while standing on the bench. Thankfully, it was just a routine lob through the neutral zone that came into the bench area and caught me on the chin. I got a small welt and a bit of soreness, but it was very minor. Thankfully, I won’t need to accept the offer of our trainer, Brad Chavis, to handle the broadcast from the bench tomorrow!
On a final note, I caught up with Rick Kowalsky and Mike McKenna at the rink today. Rick, an Admiral Hall of Famer, is now the Albany Head Coach. Mike, a former Norfolk netminder, is now tending goal for the Devils. I hope to have an interview with one of them on the broadcast for a few minutes tomorrow night.
Well,..that’s it for today. More good stuff coming up later on the trip…..
Nov. 8 – I’m writing to you from Norfolk today, where the Admirals are getting ready for a very late departure tonight for another tough road trip. The guys play in Albany, Adirondack, Bridgeport and Worcester on the upcoming trip. They are coming off an exciting shootout win Friday night in Charlotte and a tough loss to the same Checkers team at Scope one night later. The Admirals and Checkers play one another 12 times this year…more than they play any other team, so each will have a lot to say about the other’s success, or lack thereof, this season.
I wrote last week in my blog about the nice arena in Charlotte. I thought I’d let you see for yourself. Here’s a picture I took from outside the arena walking back to the hotel after the morning skate Friday (top-right). As well, you can take a look at the front concourse of the Time Warner Cable Arena (bottom-left). It’s pretty nice, with video screens and displays to see, although much of arena is tailored toward the fans of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. Nonetheless, it’s pretty nice. On the flip side, it’s hard to believe such a nice building would have one of the smallest locker rooms for the visiting players. Maybe I’ll get a picture and show you that next time we’re there.
Also, Charlotte may have the longest walk from the dressing room to the ice for the players I’ve ever encountered. I walked it off. It’s 125 steps, which makes it easily a hundred yards from the front door of the locker room to the ice. In fact, it’s so far that our Assistant Equipment Manager, Steve Kimmeth, couldn’t watch the game because of the time it would take to get to and from the locker room should something be needed during the game. Instead, Steve stayed in the locker room with a walkie-talkie in hand so our head equipment guy, J.W. Aiken, could call him if something were needed on the bench during play. That was a shame, because Steve usually just works the home games.
Well, that’s it for now. I have several topics for future blog entries already lined up from suggestions the readers have emailed. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any ideas. I’ll report from the road in the next few days. Until then…
Nov. 5 - Hello from Charlotte, where the Admirals tangle for the first of 12 regular season matchups with the Charlotte Checkers tonight here at Time Warner Cable Arena, which is also the home of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. The Admirals made the ride to Charlotte yesterday afternoon, arriving about 7pm.
Yesterday was a busy day, with a practice at Scope and then a team workout before boarding the bus about 1:00 p.m. We drove until about 4:30 p.m. before stopping for a light snack. Quizno’s seemed to be a fairly popular choice for the guys, at least until we got to Charlotte and they could go out for a full-fledged dinner.
Charlotte is quite a bit different then the old ECHL days when I used to come here to watch the Hampton Roads Admirals play the Checkers at Independence Arena, about ten minutes from downtown. That barn, which John Brophy used to play in back in the late ‘50s, was ancient then. Now, the AHL Checkers play in one of the best facilities in the league, and it’s right in the middle of downtown, surrounded by restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, a theatre, bowling alley and more.
Everything about this part of Charlotte is first class. The hotel, just a few blocks from the arena, is VERY upscale, maybe the nicest we stay in all year. There is a fancy restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel where you pay $8 just for a baked potato to go with your $30-40 steak! I was happy to walk by, but opted not to go in!
Anyway, everyone who is here seems to like the area, although I can’t speak for Scott Jackson or Mitch Fritz. Both are still hobbled by injuries and did not make the trip for tonight’s game. Fritz joined us on the radio broadcast last weekend at Scope. I know it’s been frustrating for Fritzy, who has yet to play this season. I hope we see him in the lineup soon.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope you’ll be listening tonight, and don’t forget to come out to Scope as the same two teams match up tomorrow at 7:15pm. Until next time …
October 22 - There is something TERRIBLY wrong here! I know the Admirals are here in Syracuse. No large city in the USA gets more snow than Syracuse. But the weatherman is calling for possible snow flurries here today. It's October still! Give me a break! Yesterday, we didn't see snow, but plenty of cold rain, with temperatures in the 40s most of the day. And I accidentally left my nice, hooded ODU sweatshirt at the hotel in Hartford the other day! Well, at least it's starting to feel like hockey weather.
Tonight, the Admirals take to the ice here in 'Salt City' as they face off with a division foe…the Syracuse Crunch. We don't know much about the Crunch since they changed affiliations. The Columbus Blue Jackets are out. They now have their prospects in Springfield. The Anaheim Ducks are in. Jon 'Nasty' Mirasty, who is loved here like Mitch Fritz is in Norfolk (and for the same reasons) is the only returner to the Crunch from a year ago. Mirasty has only played in one game so far, for Syracuse, so we'll see if he takes the ice tonight.
The Admirals are off to amazing 4-0 start, the best in their AHL history, and ready to begin a tough run of three games in three days. Head Coach Jon Cooper gave the guys yesterday off, but that didn't do anything to quiet the competitive juices. The team went to an area bowling ally in the afternoon for some fun spirited competition. Kevin Quick displayed some serious bowling chops with a high game of 210! Paul Szczechura was close behind. His 190 was the second highest of the day. I'm not sure who had the low game of the day, but there were a few games rolled by guys you'd never guess were pro athletes! The guys also played in teams of four, with Mathieu Roy's foursome winning the team competition.
Last night, I went to dinner with the Head Coach Jon Cooper and the training staff at Dinosaur Barbeque, a local landmark here in Syracuse. Only three of these exist (I've also been to one in Rochester), from what I'm told, and they're always packed. Equipment Manager J.W. Aiken (better known as 'Dubsy') had been talking about visiting 'The Dinosaur' ever since we got the Admirals schedule and discovered we'd have an off day here. Dinosaur Barbeque is a unique setting … very old and rustic looking. The walls are all unfinished wood covered with handwritten graffiti, messages and autographs. Nothing fancy about this place. The portions are usually huge. 'Dubsy' was the only one of us able to finish his entire meal. Our trainer, Brad Chavis (known as 'Chavy'), took on a real challenge, ordering the FULL rack of ribs. 'Chavy' was, sadly, beaten into submission by his pork challenger. He didn't even get halfway through. In his defense, however, he did go through half a plate of wings before his dinner was even served! All in all, it was not a bad night, however.
Well, that's the latest from the 'Cuse. I hope you'll be listening tonight, tomorrow from Albany and Sunday afternoon at 3pm in Worcester. Later…
October 20, 2010 ... I just got back from watching a bit of the morning skate and setting up my radio gear in the press box here in Hartford. The Wolf Pack play in the old Hartford Whalers' building. It’s one of the biggest in the AHL, and the broadcast position – actually on TOP of the press box – is one of the highest I’ve ever worked from. That makes seeing names on the jerseys almost impossible and even seeing some of the numbers can be difficult.
There are some great things about Hartford, though, such as some nice places to eat. Last night, I had dinner with trainer Brad Chavis, equipment manager J.W. Aiken and Head Coach Jon Cooper at Feng, a very fancy, upscale Asian Bistro. I wasn’t going to go because it’s basically a sushi place, and sushi and I do not get along. But, they had some REAL food...as I like to call it, so I went along. I went with the honey roasted, Asian-seasoned chicken, which was good.
In all honesty, those kind of places aren’t really my style, though. I felt much more at home today when I went for lunch at Woody’s, an excellent hot dog place just two blocks from the team hotel downtown. I first saw Woody’s featured on Travel Channel’s ‘Man vs. Food,’ which became one of my favorite summer shows. So, I made a note to myself to pay it a visit when I got here. Woody’s is a very small lunch place…nothing fancy about it…but the dogs are really good. I had the ‘Southern Slaw Dog,’ but Woody’s offers a long list of hot dogs with kraut, peppers, bar-b-que, chili, slaw and a host of other unique toppings. Woody’s has an attached bar called ‘The Fish Tank’ that is totally decked out in Miami Dolphins memorabilia, photos and decorations. You don’t find a whole lot of Dolphins fans in Hartford.
Well, it’s about time to get ready for the game tonight. Hartford is 3-1, so this should be a tough one. I’m expecting Cedric Desjardins in goal. Mitch Fritz still seems doubtful with a lingering injury. I’ll try to check in again from Syracuse in the next day or two. Until then….
October 19, 2010 ... Hello from Hartford, where the Admirals arrived about 9:30 a.m. today after a long ride through the night from Norfolk.
What a great start it's been, with the Admirals off to just the second 3-0 start in their 11-year AHL history. I'm not sure what's been the biggest shock…starting 3-0, averaging six goals a game, or ranking in the top three in the league in both power play and penalty killing percentage? I don't want to get too excited. It's just three games and we can't really tell how good or bad Binghamton and Worcester are yet, but it's a promising beginning. The club seems to have a much more balanced offense than last year and proven goaltending.
Well, we hopped on the bus at midnight last night for the trek north. The players and staff were treated to brand new pillows and blankets when they got on the bus last night, courtesy of the Admirals Booster Club. The boosters do such a nice job in supporting the team each year. Their efforts are certainly appreciated.
Of course, sometimes one needs to go the EXTRA mile, which is exactly what our trainer, Brad Chavis, has done. 'Chavy' showed up with an ELECTRIC blanket on the bus last night. That's the first time I've seen that. Normally, our bus is very cold. Last night, however, the front compartment, where the coaches and staff are, was unusually warm. The players in the back, however, told me it was freezing back there.
Even with F Alex Hutchings and G Jaroslav Janus heading for the ECHL, it was still a packed bus last night with F Chris Durno, F Stefano Giliati and F Alex Berry making this trip. Luckily, there were just enough bunks to go around. Well, it's almost 11:00 a.m. as I write this, so I'm heading to the rink shortly for a 12:30 p.m. practice. It's going to be an exhausting week, with four games in five days in four different cities. The guys play in Syracuse, Albany and Worcester on this trip, as well. I'll be in touch last from the road. Until next time …