Medvescak Shed-den weight/Sign Leino

October 17, 2014

Doug Shedden may only have been coach of Medvescak for just over a week but he’s moved quickly to ring the changes.

Heading to the exits are Branislav Mezei and Anthony Stewart while it’s a huge Zagreb welcome to Geoff Kinrade and Ville Leino.

I’m not even sure these are the last of the moves to be made with rumours of more trades in the offing.

Shedden will know Geoff Kinrade from time spent facing him in the NLA but the real scoop is the signing of Leino from the NHL. He coached the Finnish winger in the 2007/08 season when they were both with Jokerit.

Their paths may have gone in opposite directions since Finland but once more the hockey gods have drawn them back together.

Leino’s situation was a sad one for him professionally.

After such a good start in North American hockey he signed a six year contract with Buffalo, where things went south quickly.

Buffalo have been a struggling franchise for a while now, plans for the team haven’t panned out as intended and Leino’s game suffered as a consequence.

Bought out after three years of his contract, a tryout with Boston proved fruitless and he’s been a free agent until now.

For a more in-depth look at Leino, you should check out the interview Mislav Jantoljak conducted with the new Medvescak recruit here.

http://grocerytwigs.tumblr.com/post/100185929156/leino-im-just-glad-buffalo-is-over-with

I personally think this is an incredible coup for Medvescak Zagreb and liken it to the signing of Jonathan Cheechoo.

Both men fallen from grace in the NHL and with something to prove. Both extremely talented and need to find their game again. Playing in Zagreb you’ll be made to feel loved and everything possible will be done to ease your transition. Sometimes it’s just “feeling loved” and a clean slate that changes a sportsman’s fortunes.

It worked for Cheechoo so why not for Leino?

ville-leino2

Shedden was quoted as saying after the 1-0 victory against Slovan that his players need to stop thinking and just learn to react/play again. Hockey is so much about instinct and a lot of Leino’s game is based upon just that. A creative player, he’s often a step ahead of the opposition and with more space and time in the KHL, he’s likely to be able to find that side of his game again. Medvescak have struggled at even strength play from what I’ve seen and his addition will help no end. The team does have goal scorers but making those golden opportunities to hit the twine have been few and far between at times.

Medvescak’s signing’s haven’t really worked out too well this season but when you have so much change from one year to the next, that is bound to happen to a degree. It’s just not possible to hit a homerun every time. Early casualties were Darren Haydar and Jason Krog, with James Wright and Aaron Palushaj drafted in as replacements. Both new recruits have just a goal a piece to show for their efforts in 12 games with Palushaj adding four assists to his name.

You know you’re in trouble if your top goal scorer only has five goals when your 18 games into a new season. Two men hold that title for Medvescak right now and I dread to think where the team would be without the impressive starts Pascal Pelletier and Martin St. Pierre have made.

Doug Shedden has his work cut out trying to get this team moving the right way offensively with guys like Hedden struggling but perhaps Leino is the key. If he starts like a train, perhaps that confidence will sweep through the team.

 


The affordable face of hockey

October 13, 2014

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, Facebook or read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll know how much affection I hold for the American Hockey League.

The league has some great history, passionate knowledge fans and there is always the pleasure of seeing players grab a hold of their opportunity to shine and fight their way into the show that is the NHL.

What I want to focus on in this article though is the price of going to a game. Value for money wise, I believe it’s the best professional league in the world. On a given night you’ll be able to watch a team with a mix of players who should be in the NHL, coupled with those rookies making their way on that road and guys just below that level of play (which shouldn‘t be sniffed at).

I delved into what a cost of a season ticket would be and I think like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the findings. Sadly two teams weren’t forthcoming with prices but with 28 others happy to help it makes for more than an ample sample size from which to judge.

Three organisations offer season ticket packages starting under three hundred dollars which seems incredible value.

You can watch the Rochester Americans with basic prices starting at a smidge under $6 a ticket, while the Rockford Ice Hogs are just a dollar more.

Oklahoma City Barons have the most varied packages in price range and their cheapest season ticket offering in “Terrace Seating” is available for $285. Just 50 cents more than Rockford.

A few teams offer season ticket packages for youths, with those varying from $9-$13 per ticket for the 38 games.

St. Johns Icecaps sell out every time the team plays and although they don’t offer the cheaper prices that other teams do, they refuse to fleece fans. Season ticket packages range from 21-33 dollars per game

Texas Stars offer the most expensive season ticket package at $2472 which averages at $65 per game.

Still hardly expensive in NHL terms and they offer a host of benefits in return including 20% off merchandise, being able to brings three friends to every game, VIP Lounge and free parking.

hockey money

Benefits are a common theme running through most of the season ticket packages available, making them even better value for money.

There is little doubt that the size of a team’s fan base and the capacity of the building has a huge influence on the season and single ticket prices but I’ve found there is also more creativity in the AHL to sell seats.

Take for instance the Toronto Marlies who actively encourage people to buy a pair of season tickets.

This sounds expensive but a pair at the cheapest price available works out at $16 per game and there are some fantastic benefits including days out, of which one is spent at the Hockey Hall of Fame, where the team is made freely available to them.

You can have a season ticket which works out at $16 a ticket or pay on the door for a glass seat costing around $50. A cab ride away, you’re hard pushed to pay less then $110 to stand in the rafters of the ACC, with some tickets having an obstructed view.

That might be an extreme view based on general NHL prices but hockey should be for the masses, not for those with pockets greatly lined than others.

I’ve focussed on the season ticket prices here predominately, to highlight the fantastic value but teams also offer 5-10-15-20 ticket packages and some single tickets for certain games starting as low as ten dollars (without taxes).

Cheap isn’t always better but we all love value for money, maximum bang for our buck.

I firmly believe the AHL delivers that in spades.

 


The CHL Vet Situation and T.J. Fox

October 12, 2014

Originally posted on Artfulpuck:

Puck Pyramid

Arizona Sundogs vs Wichita Thunder, March 30, 2013 (Photo: Patricia Teter, All Rights Reserved)

Yesterday T.J. Fox, a veteran hockey player, announced his retirement on Twitter:

(See his full announcement below.)

Over the course of his professional career Fox played 426 regular season games spanning the years from 2007 through 2014 in the AHL, CHL, ECHL and Germany. Last season he played with the Denver Cutthroats in the Central Hockey League (CHL), and on August 13th he signed with the Arizona Sundogs but quickly found himself out of work when the Sundogs shut down the following week, along with the Denver Cutthroats.

After the Sundogs’ suspension of operations Fox thought he had signed with another team…

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Eight Necessities for OKC Barons Fans 2014-15

October 12, 2014

Originally posted on Artfulpuck:

Oklahoma Sky 20140905_184656

Oklahoma Sky (Photo: Patricia Teter, All Rights Reserved, 2014)

To help you get off to a great start to the 2014-15 season, here are eight necessities for OKC Barons Fans! (Okay .. if you are local to Oklahoma, you might want a weather app on your phone as well!)

Calendar View 2014-15 OKC Barons Schedule — print out a PDF one-page calendar view of the season’s games. This is my go-to schedule for a quick overall season view of the team’s schedule, and especially helpful for planning road trips.

Downloadable 2014-15 OKC Barons Schedules — Both ICS and CSV. I use this for Google Calendar and love it.

How to Listen to the OKC Barons Games (inside US or outside US links) — Games this season will be 96.1 FM KXY, or if preempted for OK State games, they will appear on 1340 The Game (and in rare cases might appear on NewsRadio…

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How Much Do Minor League Hockey Players Make?

October 12, 2014

Originally posted on Artfulpuck:

Cash

Every year at this time there are 1000’s of internet searches asking “How much do minor league hockey players make” that reach this blog. I’ve written about this topic in the past and here’s the short answer:

“Not Enough.”

And the long answer is “Not enough, but that is the nature of the Minors.”

Below I have listed the salary comparisons for the AHL and the ECHL, and there are several key issues that divide the two leagues:

1) The AHL only has a minimum salary for AHL SPCs — there is no maximum cap, nor any weekly Salary Cap on teams.

2) The AHL does not provide housing for their players, and that cost must come out of player’s pockets. The ECHL provides housing for their players, along with basic utilities.

(See the AHL & ECHL PHPA CBAs for more details, and see also the Professional Hockey Players Association…

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Time for the madness to end

October 11, 2014

The opening night of AHL games left a sour taste in the mouth for me.

There was some exciting hockey for sure but one incident in Rochester left me sick to the pit of my stomach.

It was the Rochester Americans home opener, as the Amerks entertained their new divisional rivals, Adirondack Flames.

The game was done and dusted as a contest, with the home side up 5-1 with three minutes to play, until Trevor Gillies decided to leave his mark in an unsavoury manner.

While things were getting heated in the corner as two men dropped the gloves, Adirondack’s Gillies grabbed a hold of Rochester’s left winger William Carrier.

Not heard of him before? That’s because he was playing his first game in the AHL. His first professional game ever in fact.

Being a smart kid, Carrier refused to fight despite haymakers being thrown at him and instead protected his head and face with his arms.

Gillies response was to grab hold of the young man’s head and spike it into the ice as hard as he could and try and throw a couple of punches with Carrier down on the ice before he was pulled away.

Gillies

Gillies is not a small man (6-foot-3, 231 pounds) and has previous for these kind of antics.

In almost 400 AHL games, he’s racked up over 1500 penalty minutes and if you add in his total professional games, that number rises to over 50 hours of PIM.

Fortunately the young man he assaulted was ok on this occasion and was able to laugh and joke with reporters after the game. Incredibly the on-ice officials refused to give Gillies a match penalty for the offense but instead ejected him for being the aggressor in a fight.

Rochester scored on the resulting two man power play but that wasn’t an end to things as the home side looked to send a message back to their visitors. From the opening face-off a line brawl ensued with Rochester’s player taking things into their own hands as defenseman Petrecki took the centreman position in order to “send a message.”

Rochester’s head coach Cassidy confirmed that Petrecki went on the ice of his own accord but did not condone his players action, insisting that’s a team mate looking after a team mate.

The AHL is a development league first and foremost, and do we really need to witness the actions of thugs like Gillies on young rookies like this? Imagine if the young man had suffered a terrible injury.

I imagine the call to ban Gillies would be heard loud and clear across North American then.

The AHL has a responsibility to protect the young guys coming into this league without mollycoddling them and this action by a veteran, who should know better, oversteps the acceptable boundary by a long way it‘s not even conceivable.

In black and white terms, this is one professional acting toward another and if Gillies has this much disdain and ignorance towards his contemporaries then the punishment needs to be as harsh.

Who is to say that next time the outcome won’t cost the victim his career or perhaps something a whole lot more important.

Link to a video of the incident is below.

***Update*** Trevor Gillies was given an extra 12 game suspension on top of the mandatory one game. I’m not sure what message that is sending when it’s just three games extra than his last assault on a fellow professional. He may have apologised profusely after the event which is all well and good but people would not be taking that into the account if Carrier was in hospital right now. I’m disappointed in the AHL and I pray that for the sake of the league and other professionals that there are no other incidents moving forward. At some point, hockey has to make this man culpable for his actions.


Medvescak appoint Doug Shedden

October 9, 2014

Time was of the essence for Medvescak to hire a new Head Coach and they moved swiftly to appoint the well travelled Doug Shedden.

The former NHL Centreman spent eight seasons in North America representing Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Quebec Nordiques and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Shedden has been coaching for over twenty years now, with a variety of experiences and some noteworthy success along the way.

In six seasons coaching in the CHL, he led two different teams to a total of four championships and in between times won a championship with UHL side Flint Generals.

He would also garner vital experience in the ECHL and then with the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate in St. Johns before heading to Europe in 2005.

It was not his first taste of European hockey, having played two seasons in Italy.

Hired by Finnish SM-liiga team HIFK to replace Dave King, who left to join Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Shedden’s solitary season at the helm was a relative success as he led the team to a Bronze medal game, which unfortunately they lost.

His European coaching debut caught the eye of Jokerit, and he would spend two seasons with the fellow Finnish club, who have just recently joined the KHL.

During his second year with Jokerit, Shedden was hired as Finnish National Team Head Coach and they would win a Bronze medal at the 2008 World Championships.

Since then Shedden has spent his time in charge Swiss team EV Zug and being a part of the Team Canada coaching staff at the Spengler Cup.

Doug Shedden

I intimated in my article which spoke about Weber’s departure that Medvescak would do well to go along the lines of hiring someone with more European hockey know how.

It’s not an easy task to find a coach at this time of the year when most leagues are well under way, but I believe this is a positive appoint by Medvescak.

Shedden may not have any KHL experience as yet but he’ll be well versed and looking to prove himself in his first shot at the league.

His cross-over knowledge of North American hockey with the contacts to boot should prove an asset with so many of Medvescak’s players from that part of the world.

His task will not be an easy one, with Medvescak six points back of a playoff place, with teams ahead of them having games in hand at this point.

However Medvescak responded well to the firing of Weber, with a gutsy victory against third placed Jokerit in Finland and then pushing SKA hard in defeat, in two very much improved performances under the guidance of Dean Fedorchuk.

Shedden’s first six games will be on the road, which hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Bears.

In saying that, they are all winnable fixtures to my mind and if he can galvanise Medvescak, then it’s possible by the end of October that they could well and truly be in the playoff race.

 


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