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Hey, I'm new at this too.

07/25/2008 1:51 PM - Chris Etheridge
This week three more AHL coaches got the call to the NHL. Of course, we've mentioned in two posts now that Mike Haviland is taking a post with the Chicago Blackhawks. But it's also worth noting that former Wolves bench boss John Anderson is taking Todd Nelson (Wolves assistant) and Rochester head coach Randy Cunneyworth with him to Atlanta. And in San Jose, Todd Richards from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is joining the Sharks as an assistant. (so is former Chicago Blackhawks and Norfolk Admirals coach Trent Yawney).

EDIT 8/22/08 (added Philadelphia and Providence, removed two incorrect teams): That makes the unofficial AHL-wide count of new coaches in 2008-09 at 12 (Chicago, Grand Rapids, Iowa, Norfolk, Peoria, Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, Rochester, Rockford, Springfield, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton). Hershey's Bob Woods will be in his first full season.

Let's take an updated look at the coaching situation in the West Division (new coaches in bold):
  • Chicago Wolves: still open
  • Houston Aeros: Kevin Constantine (second year)
  • Iowa Chops: still open
  • Milwaukee Admirals: Lane Lambert (second year)
  • Peoria Rivemen: Davis Payne
  • Quad City Flames: Ryan McGill (fourth year in West Division, second in Quad City)
  • San Antonio Rampage: Greg Ireland (second year)
  • Rockford IceHogs: still open
So it looks like Quad City's Ryan McGill becomes the Dean of the West Division coaching corps with John Anderson's departure. Anderson was with the Wolves for 11 years. No coach in the West Division has been in the same city for longer than one season.

Oh and a treat for reading all the way to the end of the post -- here's the transcript from an AHL chat session last spring with the Chicago Blackhawks' newly-aquired center Tim Brent.

Busy week for the IceHogs

07/25/2008 9:25 AM - Mike Peck

We’re about as far away from hockey as we can be as it’s been over two months since the IceHogs last took the ice and we still have two months until training camp opens. This past week, however, has been easily the busiest of the summer for the IceHogs.

The announcement of two preseason games is usually adequate enough news to whet fans appetites for the fast approaching season.  Well this news was overshadowed by a pair of trades and word that Rockford’s head coach was moving up.

First the coaching situation.  Congrats to Mike Haviland!  This will be my eighth season working in professional hockey and I don’t think that I’ve been around anyone, players included, that had the drive to reach the National Hockey League more than Havy.  And remember this is in an industry where EVERYONE wants to make to the NHL.  Havy has been involved in hockey for almost his entire life and this will be the first time that he gets a chance to be in the show.

Haviland’s departure might seem like a substantial blow to the IceHogs as you can expect a good core group of players back from last season’s club.  I would be lying if I told you that it isn’t. But don’t think for a moment that the Chicago Blackhawks are going to put their top farm club in the hands of a coach that they don’t trust with the youngsters.  The Hawks are widely regarded as having one of the deepest, if not the deepest, farm systems in professional hockey.  Chicago has continued their push back to relevance by drafting and developing their own players and I wouldn’t expect that philosophy to change any time soon.

The next coach will have the challenge of continuing to develop the prospects while winning.  They want winners at the next level and that means the players must learn how to win at the AHL level.

Now the trades.  Last week defenseman Danny Richmond was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization for the rights to Tim Brent.  If Chicago can sign Brent, he would add to the center depth within the organization.  Brent had a tremendous postseason last spring with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (12g-15a in 23 games), getting outscored by only the likes of Jason Krog and Darren Haydar.

Richmond’s presence will be missed in Rockford, but once again a player’s goal is to stick in the NHL and maybe a change of scenery will give Richmond a better chance at that.

A trade a little tougher for IceHogs fans to swallow was the Martin St. Pierre deal to the Boston Bruins for Pascal Pelletier.  St. Pierre was the second leading point man in the AHL last season and led the IceHogs in points in both the regular and postseason.  In sports though, in order to get a quality player in a trade, you have to give up quality.

Pelletier led the AHL’s top regular season team in scoring last season. With 75 points in 73 games, Pelletier will also add more depth at the center position for Chicago.   Like Brent, Pelletier also make an impact in the postseason for Providence with 6g-6a in 10 games.

It’s also worth noting that Pelletier and St. Pierre have followed very similar paths in professional hockey.  Both were undrafted players after very solid junior careers and both began their pro careers in the ECHL.  After working their way up the ranks, both have seen NHL playing time.

Like Richmond, maybe a change of organizations should help St. Pierre as he tries for more ice time in the NHL.  St. Pierre played in 21 games with the Hawks in his three seasons in the organization. 

Plus, one of St. Pierre’s dreams as a kid was to play in Montreal for or against the Canadians.  With Boston playing in the same division as Montreal, now he has a great chance at achieving that dream!