Aeros Summerscribes - May 25
Thursday, 05.25.2006 / 4:27 PM / News
It’s not technically summer yet, and I know this not because the calendar hasn’t turned to June, but because you can still breathe outside in Houston during the day. But that doesn’t stop us from unveiling the 2006 edition of “SummerScribes”. Feedback, as always, is welcomed – send to firstname.lastname@example.org. The next edition is scheduled for June 9.
SummerScribes, May 25 edition
Murray, Courchaine in action
There are still two Aeros from the 2005-06 season playing – Rem Murray in Edmonton and Adam Courchaine in ECHL Gwinnett (more on him later). Many in the hockey world think Murray is the front-runner for the Masterton Trophy, but what a story if Murray was able to help capture Lord Stanley’s Cup as well.
Murray’s story is well profiled, both in his time in Houston from October-March and then his NHL return in Edmonton. Cervical dystonia nearly ended his career, and made everyday things such as playing with his three kids a chore.
With the help of Botox to relax the muscles in his neck, Murray was back on the comeback trail last summer. He was Detroit’s last cut in training camp, and landed in Houston. Murray was nearly flawless with the Aeros for more than four months, an anchor on their second line and playing an important role in the development of young players like linemate Patrick O’Sullivan.
On March 4, the call finally came for Murray, who was on a flight to Edmonton that night and in the Oilers’ lineup the next day. Murray, who spent his first six NHL seasons in Edmonton, has played on the team’s fourth line with Georges Laraque and most recently former Iowa Star Toby Petersen. He’s seen action in every playoff game and tied up Anaheim goalie Ilya Bryzgalov behind the net leading to an assist on Petersen’s first career playoff goal, giving Edmonton a 1-0 lead in Game 3.
Here’s to Rem and his teammates (including former Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson) picking up five more wins, beginning with a possible series-clincher tonight against the Ducks. Should the Oilers advance to the Stanley Cup finals, Aeros.com expects to catch up with Murray in the next week.
NHL action heats up
If things had gone according to plan, Roloson would also be listed as a “former Aero” in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, Roloson outplayed Jamie McLennan in the pre-season in 2001, sending “Noodles” down to Houston. Roloson and Manny Fernandez instead were a formidable goaltending duo for the next four seasons.
Roloson has given the Anaheim Mighty Ducks fits with his play, and some antics. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle and his team have been infuriated with Roloson’s helmet continuously slipping off.
With playoff rookie goalies leading each of the other three teams, Roloson and Murray just may find themselves on top.
AHL down to final three
Will the Milwaukee Admirals lose again this post-season? Maybe not, the Scribe says.
The Admirals ran their winning streak to nine games Wednesday night with a 5-4, series-clinching win over Grand Rapids at Bradley Center. Milwaukee will have to wait more than a week – again – for its next series to begin. The Ads will take on either Portland or Hershey in the Calder Cup Finals. After playing the first six games of the Eastern Conference final in just eight days, Portland and Hershey get five days off (due to arena availability) before Game 7, which is Tuesday.
Back to Milwaukee. Darren Haydar scored the series-clinching goal Wednesday early in the third period, and to no one’s surprise it was a shorthanded tally. Milwaukee has an AHL record seven shorties through the first three rounds, including three in Game 3 against Houston. Haydar’s goal Wednesday was one of the best in a memorable career. Click here to watch the goal, courtesty of B2 Networks.
While the diminutive Haydar is the current front-runner for playoff Most Valuable Player with 14 goals and 14 assists in just 15 games, let us not forget perhaps the most important Admiral of the post-season – Jake Moreland.
Who, you ask? With Pekka Rinne (8-0, 2.13 gaa in the playoffs and another MVP candidate) still in Nashville and Brian Finley out with an injury, ECHL call-up Moreland backstopped Milwaukee to a 4-1, Game 7 win over Iowa in the division semifinals. The Admirals haven’t lost since.
Without Moreland, Iowa wins that game. Could the Aeros still be playing? We’ll never know.
The scary thing is that Milwaukee could have been better, heading into the Aeros series. Alexandre Radulov, Nashville’s No. 1 pick in 2004, could have joined the team had his Quebec Remparts not advanced to the Memorial Cup. Radulov had 152 points (61-91=152) in just 62 games this season.
Radulov, his Rempart teammates and head coach Patrick Roy (yes, that Patrick Roy) have advanced to the Memorial Cup Final.
It could be an interesting summer for Milwaukee. Mainstays Simon Gamache, Darren Haydar, Libor Pivko and Greg Classen are all free agents.
Courchaine, Gladiators invade Alaska
After perhaps the most nightmarish day or two of travel in hockey history (save Aeros equipment manager Rick Bronwell and crack assistant Philip Shipp having to drive an equipment truck back from Omaha this spring), Adam Courchaine and his Gwinnett Gladiators’ teammates understandably dropped Game 1 of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals in Anchorage, Alaska. The game was tied late in regulation, before Alaska scored for a 3-2 victory.
Gwinnett waited at home (Duluth, Ga.) Monday night while Alaska battled Fresno in Game 7 of the conference finals. The game, of course, went double overtime, ending after 2 a.m. Eastern time.
Members of the Gwinnett coaching staff were on a plane four hours later, but it took six flights through places like Minneapolis and Phoenix to get the team to Alaska. There were 23 available tickets – just enough for player, coach and training staff – as it’s the height of Alaskan cruise season. Even general manager Steve Chapman couldn’t get to Anchorage. Head coach Jeff Pyle put his two goalies on separate planes – just in case one got delayed. The last flight got to Alaska about daybreak Wednesday – just about 12 hours before Game 1 started!
Now why couldn’t the series have started later? The Scribe will consult with his ECHL sources and see what he can find out.
The teams, of course, have to travel back across the country to suburban Atlanta for Games 3-5 beginning Monday. If the series isn’t decided after five games, it’s back to Alaska – which could make lesser teams go broke. It cost nearly $40,000 for trip No. 1 – that’s 80 percent of the Gladiators’ entire regular season travel budget.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that Wednesday – one day later than needed – Delta began non-stop flights from Atlanta to Anchorage.
Giguere new GM in Colorado
A familiar face at Toyota Center’s press row won’t be returning anytime soon, as Dallas Stars assistant general manager Francois Giguere was named Colorado’s executive vice president and general manager on Wednesday.
With Dallas, Giguere also served as general manager of the Iowa Stars. During the 2004-05 lockout season, Giguere was a regular fixture at Toyota Center watching the likes of Mike Smith, Junior Lessard and Marius Holtet.
Giguere got his start with the Quebec/Colorado franchise as a controller (you know the Avs’ budget will be controlled!) before leaving for Dallas in 2001.
Another familiar face, Ray Shero, was named Pittsburgh’s GM today. While serving as assistant general manager in Nashville, Shero oversaw the operations in Milwaukee. Shero was close to being named GM of the Boston Bruins, but couldn’t come to terms on a contract.
HAC preparing for a new season
Houston Aeros Charities is going for major wins this season! Make sure to join us for our 12th Annual Charity Golf Classic to be held in October at Wildcat Golf Club where our players will trade in their sticks for clubs. Don’t miss out because right now we are seeking corporate sponsors for our in game fundraisers: Tickets for Kids, Golden Puck, Birthdays, and more! This is a great opportunity to receive corporate recognition and contribute to local charities.
If you would like additional information on upcoming events or make a monetary donation, please contact Courtney Eidman at 713.361.7925. Be sure to visit the Community section of the website frequently as we’ll be updating our information as the season draws near.
A big thank you to the Aeros current season ticket holders for contributing to another successful season in 2005-06! For those looking to become package holders, contact the Aeros office today. For a deposit of only $50 per seat you can receive a price freeze, discounted parking in the Tundra Garage, and all the other great benefits that are included! Call 713.974.PUCK with questions or to place your deposit now for 2006-07!
New youth hockey program coming
Attention hockey players, coaches, and parents! The Aeros will be hosting the inaugural Aeros Equipment Seminar later this summer. This seminar is for hockey players of all ages, and will help players and their parents learn the right information about equipment. The program will feature an interactive presentation on the proper sizing, maintenance, cleaning, and repair of all hockey equipment. This will be a great introduction to purchasing your first set, or a way to extend the life of the equipment you currently use. The exact date and time will be announced soon. For more information please contact Jeremy Burson at 713.361.7946 or email@example.com.
There are still three weeks remaining in the latest Aeros.com “Register to Win” contest. You can win an Aeros prize pack, including a Bomber t-shirt! Click here to sign up!
Equipment sale Saturday!
A quick reminder that the Aeros will hold their annual locker room sale this Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the locker room at the Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center. In addition to equipment, the Aeros are selling bags, nameplates and other items. Accepted forms of payment are cash, credit and check. Get there early, items go fast!
Aeros staff expands
Congratulations to former interns Derek Devore, Kyle Loehrer and Brandon Wickesburg, who have all gained “full-time” status as Aeros account executives.
Coaching, referee clinics upcoming
Interested in becoming a coach or referee? You’ll find these documents useful: Referee clinic, Coaches clinic.
Q: When is the AHL going to recognize that professional hockey games can no longer be managed by one referee? It is long past the time to either go to a two referee system like the NHL or allow the linesmen to call penalties. Far too many AHL games are decided not by the play on the ice but by the referee’s zeal or lack of it.
--Fred from Seabrook (via New England)
Scribe says: Great question, Fred, even for someone from Red Sox Country. As this fine article from Winnipeg states, the AHL has often thought of the two-referee system, and even experimented with it during the Olympics. It basically comes down to finances – the AHL would want the NHL to pick up the cost of the additional officials. Officiating depth would obviously come into play as well – are there enough quality officials at lower levels (ECHL, CHL, UHL) ready to step up because on any given night, 28 referees would be needed in the AHL instead of 14.
Q: I have a technical question about a rule. I know the goalies can’t stand in the areas in the corners and play the puck. What is the rule about the goalie being outside the area and playing a puck inside the area or vice versa, the puck outside the area while the goalie is inside the area? Thanks.
--Gordon from Houston
Scribe says: It’s where the puck is that matters. The goalie can be outside the “trapezoid” in the “restricted area”, as long as he’s playing a puck that is inside the area.
Q: Now that they have played a season under the new rules, do the players and coaches like or dislike the new rules? Do they think they have improved the game? Thanks.
--Chuck from Richmond, Texas (via Cleveland)
Scribe says: Chuck, thanks for the note. Talking to coaches around the league, I think that most like the majority of the new rules. Many (especially the ones with good puck-handling goalies) don’t like the restrictions on where goalies can play the puck. The elimination of the two-line pass has led to some terrific, up and down, hockey. Most coaches say their teams are still getting adjusted to the calls on hooking, interference, etc. I think we’ll see more consistency out of the officials in 2006-07, and that should make hockey operations people happy.
Q: Hello. Do you know who for certain will return as an Aero next year, barring them making the Wild roster? Thanks in advance for your time.
--Mike from Katy
Scribe says: Get out your pen and paper Mike, the list of players for certain to return as Aeros next season are: Curtis Murphy. All joking aside, this may be the latest in training camp that Aeros fans will know for sure about their roster. A lot will depend on how much of a splash Minnesota makes in the free agent market. Erik Reitz, for instance, should have a great chance to stick on the Wild’s blueline, unless they were to sign some free agents. Up front it will be very interesting, with the likes of Patrick O’Sullivan, Matt Foy, Roman Voloshenko, Benoit Pouliot and Danny Irmen fighting for the two, possibly three final spots on the Wild’s roster. It will also be interesting to see if Minnesota deems Josh Harding ready to assume the backup role to Manny Fernandez, or if the Wild decide to sign a more veteran backup and let Harding play 60 games with the Aeros as opposed to 25 or 30 with Minnesota.
Q: Dear Scribe - Why do some goalies have to cover up the brand names of their goalie pads with tape when then go over seas to play hockey? I noticed this a lot during the Olympics and the World Championships. I hope you can answer my question. Thank you for your time.
Scribe says: It’s all about the sponsorship Joseph, even in international play. If a goalie’s equipment doesn’t match the national team’s sponsor, it’s gotta’ go.
Thanks for all the great questions! Keep ’em coming.
Back by popular demand, it’s SummerScribe trivia time. This edition’s prize is an autographed Derek Boogaard picture. Boogaard is wearing the Wild’s third jersey. The question is…What long-time NHL coach actually got his start by being the first head coach of an organized hockey team in Houston? Send answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s it, Aeros fans. Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend! We’ll talk to you again in June.