(note: Originally published Wednesday afternoon, but a few more events happened after sending…so I’m adding to it a little.)
On Tuesday night the 75th American Hockey League season came to a close…with the crowning of a new and unexpected champion. Of all the teams in the East Division, who ever would have guessed that the fifth place team, who had to cross over to the Atlantic Division just to be eligible for the playoffs, would be the last one standing. Congrats go out to the Binghamton Senators, who dispatched the Western Conference champ Houston Aeros 3-2 in Game 6 in Texas to clinch the first ever hockey championship for the city of Binghamton (I believe it’s a 38 year run for the city). Goaltender Robin Lehner (who has his own “fan club” in Adirondack) was named the playoffs MVP and well deserved, he came up big when he needed to.
I also want to send my congrats to the many friends I have in Bingo: Kate the B-Sens media relations director (and the voice behind @B_SensHockey on Twitter), who I’ve known for about 10 years now; Joy the B-Sens beat writer for the Press & Sun Bulletin (not bad for your first year on the job eh?), who I got to know during the course of the season; Owen, former Rats broadcaster and part time color commentator for home games (worst mistake the Rats…and then the Phantoms…made was letting him go as team broadcaster), and my friends in Section 16 (even though Nate cheered for the other team most of the time…and picked on me about an alleged crush on a linesman…long story). I’m kind of hoping their first home game when they raise the championship banner is against Hershey. Just because…
I got a chance to see some video and photo from the parade in Bingo after the team returned home on Wednesday. Great idea to first visit assistant coach Steve Stirling in the hospital with the trophy in hand (coach Stirling underwent emergency bypass surgery on Sunday, a day after a Game 5 victory by the B-Sens, and was unable to make the trip to Houston for the clincher) and their custom puck board representing all 16 playoff wins. Then it was parade and rally time downtown by the arena. For some reason the song “Hot in Here” by Nelly comes to mind…sorry female moment.
Other hockey news this week:
-The Devils officially announced last week the signing of D Brandon Burlon from the University of Michigan to an entry level deal. Official release can be found here.
-In a move that I can only describe as “HUH?” our beloved turt…enforcer Louis Robitaille has called it quits as a player to become a junior head coach. See my earlier entry for a sort of tribute.
-Just this morning the AHL announced that the Manitoba Moose have been relocated to St. John’s NFLD for next season, they will be affiliated with the new Winnipeg Thrashers (we’ll call them that for now till the real name is announced). Thus begins what some writers call “silly season,” when the merry go round of affiliations between the NHL and AHL begin. Thank God I don’t have to worry about that…one advantage of the parent club owning its AHL (and ECHL) affiliate. Right now Vancouver and Chicago do not have partners, and there’s a rumor of the new Sabres ownership wanting to buy Rochester and reuniting those two teams, leaving Florida and Portland to find new affiliations (if it did come to fruition…but it’s all speculation).
Now we just sit back and wait for the Stanley Cup to be decided on…then less than a month away to free agency. And it’s only 119 days till AHL Opening Night, but who’s counting?