Friday Reading

A couple of notes to pass along…

-On a personal note, I officially took care of my 2011-12 season tickets this morning with the Devils. And locked in my rate for the next 3 years. So I guess you can say I was signed to a multi year contract.

-Late last night, another signing was announced. Forward Stephane Veilleux was signed to a 1 year 2 way deal by New Jersey. He comes back to North America after spending last season in both Finland and Switzerland. He has played for both Minnesota and most recently Tampa Bay, but hasn’t seen AHL time since playing for Houston in 2004-05. Fire and Ice has more info here. Look for an updated player tracker sometime on Monday.

-In league news, introducing your St. John’s IceCaps, as announced this morning. I like the color scheme, it kind of reminds me of the old Adirondack Frostbite colors (for those that are wondering, they were the last team to call Glens Falls home before the Phantoms moved in. They were a UHL team that folded after the 2005-06 season).


More Preseason Planning

Breaking news this afternoon out of the Capital Region…just as I expected, Albany and Adirondack will be playing against each other in at least one preseason game. The Phantoms announced a home preseason tilt against the Devils on Saturday, October 1st at 7:00 PM at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Last season there was a home and home preseason weekend series between the two teams, so I would not be surprised if there was a chance for Albany to be the home team. Their other preseason game announced so far is against the Whale in Connecticut on September 27th.

As far as my planning goes, looks like October 1st will be my first night back live tweeting games (ironically on the 1 year anniversary of me accidentally starting to do it…all I wanted to do was get used to my new BlackBerry keyboard. Who knew what it would turn into?). Pregamers will start up again when the regular season does, since preseason games are totally random. As for the Devils-Rangers NHL exhibition game on September 21st? May do some reporting from that, probably the goal scoring and any other interesting stuff. I’m throwing around some ideas for the blog as to how the pregamer will be set up and possibly doing a Sunday recap of the week’s games, events, etc. I’ll know more when the schedule comes out, which hopefully should be in a couple more weeks (the wait this time of year is the worst). Stay tuned…

The Weekly Friday Update…

Hotpocalypse, Day 3. If you’re a normal follower on my Twitter feed you pretty much know I hate this kind of weather. Hazy, hot, humid…ick. I used to get annoyed by everyone crying over missing hockey around this time of year…after the last 2 days I think I’m joining them. But anyway on to the news of the day:

-Overnight, per Fire and Ice it was confirmed that the Albany coaching staff–head coach Rick Kowalsky and assistant Tommy Albelin–will remain intact for this season. The assistants in New Jersey under new head coach Peter Deboer have not been announced yet. As for former Trenton coach (and former River Rats captain) Kevin Dean? I was kind of hoping he’d join the staff here (he was an assistant coach during the entire Lowell run under both Kurt Kleinendorst and John MacLean), but instead he has taken a position as assistant coach of the Providence Bruins.

-You can cross another name off the unrestricted free agent list, as forward Brad Mills has re-signed with the Devils for one more year. Only 3 unrestricted (Olivier Magnan, Chris Murray, Rob Davison) and 1 restricted free agent (Maxim Noreau) left on the list, no word on any of their statuses as of yet. In a little over a week I’ll post an updated player tracker.

-I should take a moment to mention Doc Emrick, on the heels of him going to Versus full time and leaving MSG after over 20 years. When I first started following the Devils as a teenager, the only broadcast team I knew on SportsChannel (totally dating myself with that one), Fox Sports, and then MSG was Doc and Chico Resch. Never officially met him, but I actually did get to hear him speak late in the River Rats’ 97-98 season, he was the guest speaker at the Booster Club Awards Banquet that year (my first Booster Club dinner I ever attended). He told some very interesting minor league-related stories and even presented an award that night…the team’s Most Improved Player for the year. The recipient? John Madden. You may have heard of him…

Here is the link to read Doc’s letter to the fans in New Jersey. Thank you Doc for everything and good luck with the new career turn!

UPDATE (3:15 PM): Make that 2 unrestricted free agents remaining. Per Elite Prospects, defenseman Olivier Magnan is off to Russia, signing with Dynamo Minsk in the KHL. It had been rumored a short time ago, today it became official.

Preseason Planning (Updated 7/19)

As I hit mid-July and an impending heat wave (making me really wish it was October now), offseason news is kind of slowing down. But I do have a couple of things to pass along:

-Right after I posted my last entry Friday afternoon, New Jersey announced that goaltender Jeff Frazee and defenseman Matt Corrente both re-signed, Frazee to a 2 year contract. Now for a #3 goalie (like a David Caruso…wait why not him? Still wondering what his contract status is) to have on hand…

-We now know when the first Albany preseason game is: Tuesday, September 27th. The Devils will travel to Trinity College in Connecticut to take on the Whale. Just waiting on the rest of the schedule, it would not surprise me if Adirondack is involved.

-I added a new page link at the top with opponents’ media and Twitter info. If I’m missing any news/blog sites, leave a message in the comments on that page and I will add on. As we get closer to the start of the season, I may throw in radio links as well.

-While New Jersey was announcing former Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer as the new man in charge (no word on coaching staff on either level as of yet), the Devils did announce that restricted free agent forwards Nathan Perkovich and Steven Zalewski re-signed. That leaves defenseman Maxim Noreau, acquired a month ago for David McIntyre, as the lone unsigned RFA. Rumors on Elite Prospects have him joining a team in Switzerland, but nothing has been made official on either continent.

Friday Updates…

A few news and notes to start off the weekend:

-Right after I lamented yesterday about who could possibly fill the enforcer role after PL3 was dealt to the Flames yesterday afternoon, just a few hours later I got my answer. New Jersey went out and brought back a familiar face to Albany fans, signing Cam Janssen to a 1 year 2 way contract. This likely means we may be seeing him back for the first time since 2006 (just like PL3 coming back this season). Ironically enough Janssen is replacing the man he fought an epic bout with in March 2010 (to relive it, link here).

-Another signing of note announced this morning as this year’s first round draft pick Adam Larsson to a 3 year entry level deal. The team faced a late afternoon deadline to sign him or face a hefty pricetag to continue negotiations. Not sure if he will immediately fill in at the NHL level or if he will actually see any time here.

-Albany finally released the list of opponents earlier today, and as it turns out I missed one yesterday. The Toronto Marlies, a team no Albany franchise has seen since 2007-08, is on the list. So the corrected list for next year is:

Northeast Division:


East Division:


Atlantic Division:


North Division:


Turned out I misread on Hamilton’s website. When they said 2 games I immediately thought 2 and 2. It’s actually 1 and 1. See what happens when you try to do your own detective work?

Still about a month to go before the actual schedule comes out…then the fun of planning truly begins…

2011-12 Hint #3: The Opponents

Today a majority of AHL teams released their list of opponents for next season. Since Albany has not officially released theirs (as of 4 PM anyway), I took it upon myself to do some detective work and find out from other teams whether they play them or not. And here’s what I came up with, broken down by division:


Adirondack-10 (5 H, 5 A)
Bridgeport-6 (3 H, 3 A)
Connecticut-4 (2 H, 2 A)
Springfield-4 (2 H, 2 A)


Binghamton-8 (4 H, 4 A)
Hershey-4 (2 H, 2 A)
Norfolk-8 (4 H, 4 A)
Syracuse-10 (5 H, 5 A)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton-4 (2 H, 2 A)


Manchester-2 (1 H, 1 A)
Providence-4 (2 H, 2 A)
Worcester-4 (2 H, 2 A)


Rochester-4 (2 H, 2 A)
Hamilton-4 (2 H, 2 A)

My take: Well, I guess there was no avoiding double digit games with Adirondack. But I am questioning why there are so many games outside the division. Albany plays their divisional opponents a total of 24 times, but play East Division opponents a total of 34 times. I find it interesting that they play Norfolk 8 times, which is a much longer trip, but only play the Pennsylvania teams 4 times each and that’s a closer trip. And 10 times with Syracuse? That’s another one I find interesting. But hey, that’s 5 potential trips to Tim Hortons! Okay getting off topic…

You may notice a new opponent…the Hamilton Bulldogs. This is the first Canadian team the Devils/Rats have played since the 07-08 season when they played 2 games against Toronto. They step in for Charlotte, who doesn’t see anyone in the East at all other than Hershey and Norfolk. The River Rat loyalists still in Albany (especially the ones that still won’t accept the Devils here) are probably none too thrilled about that one. And also no games against Portland or the new St. John’s team. Too busy traveling to Norfolk or Syracuse perhaps?

Other news of the day:

-Per my new favorite website CapGeek, two more signings to announce, both returnees. Unrestricted free agent forward Chad Wiseman signed a 2 year 2 way deal (with a pretty good number if he makes the NHL) and restricted free agent forward Vladimir Zharkov accepted his qualifying offer, taking a 1 year 2 way contract.

-Earlier today, the Devils traded winger Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (otherwise known as PL3) to the Calgary Flames for a 2012 5th round draft pick. He came to Albany about 2 weeks into the season after being waived by New Jersey (that little incident against the Capitals first week of the season may have had a part in it). All he did was contribute 8 goals and amass 334 penalty minutes (good for first on the team and the AHL overall), plus provide some memorable fight moments. With him traded and Louis Robitaille retired, there is now a real need for an enforcer type. Sure Harry Young, Darcy Zajac and Dan Kelly can drop the gloves, but who will be the one to take charge when Zac Rinaldo starts up his antics during the Time Warner Cable Cup series? I wonder if that need will be addressed as the season gets closer.

Monday Notes

A few notes to cool off with as it’s hot and humid out in upstate New York (more reason to make me wish fall was coming):

-Over the weekend CapGeek reported another Devil signing…this time it’s forward Tim Sestito agreeing to a 1 year 2 way deal. The Devils-Phantoms series just got a lot more interesting with both Tim and his brother Tom re-signing (in Tom’s case with the Flyers).

-Despite the NBA lockout, still looks like an early August release date for the AHL schedule. We may know the opponent setup by possibly the end of this week.

-Today starts New Jersey’s development camp in Newark. A total of 43 players will be hitting the ice (per The Star-Ledger):

Jeff Frazee (31)
Keith Kinkaid (50)
Scott Wedgewood (60)
Maxime Clermont (70)

Matt Taormina (20)
Alexander Urbom (22)
Seth Helgeson (33)
Mark Fayne (34)
Adam Larsson (36)
Joe Sova (37)
Matt Killian (38)
Corbin McPherson (40)
Harry Young (41)
Eric Gelinas (42)
Daniel New (43)
Curtis Gedig (44)
Brandon Burlon (45)
Reece Scarlett (46)
Dan Kelly (47)

Adam Henrique (14)
Stephen Gionta (15)
Jacob Josefson (16)
David Wohlberg (55)
Blake Coleman (58)
Brett Leonard (59)
Kelly Zajac (61)

Left Wings:
Blake Pietila (49)
Justin Barnett (51)
Reid Boucher (52)
Peter McMullen (53)
Joseph Whitney (54)
Mike Hoeffel (57)
Kory Nagy (64)
Derek Rodwell (65)
J.S. Berube (66)
Scott Arnold (71)

Right Wings:
Mattias Tedenby (21)
Nick Palmieri (32)
Brian Haczyk (39)
Mike Sislo (62)
Rem Vanderbeek (63)
Thomas Nesbitt (67)
Darcy Zajac (72)
(note: uniform # in parentheses)

Even though on the list, Tedenby will not make the camp this week due to visa issues. Here’s a breakdown of the list:

-17 players on this list spent at least some time in Albany during the season, with 8 of those recalled to New Jersey.

-5 out of 6 members of the 2011 draft class, including first rounder Larsson, are in attendance.

-There are a few family ties on the list. You may have noticed that there is yet another Zajac on the way up. Kelly joins Travis and Darcy as the 3rd Zajac brother (a 4th brother, Nolan, is about to start his collegiate career at the University of Denver; he should be here in 3 or 4 years) to wear a Devil uniform. He just completed his junior season at Union College (teammate of new Devils signee Keith Kinkaid). Rem Vanderbeek is the son of Devils chairman/managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek. He is about to start his junior season at Providence. Peter McMullen Jr.’s father Peter Sr. is the Devils executive vice president, while grandfather John is the former owner of the Devils. He went undrafted and is off to Boston College in the fall.

NJ Style Shutdown…

Just getting back from a 2 day trip to NE Pennsylvania and Dutchess County for some baseball…while I was in PA I got the news about the Devils ECHL franchise in Trenton suspending operations for next season. As if that news didn’t come out of left field, how the announcement came out was a little, shall we say, interesting. First hint came from the Bergen Record blog Fire and Ice (link here), then later in the day came the official announcement from the Devils themselves, which sounded eerily like the Fire and Ice story. Apparently somebody was just a little bitter about suddenly losing a job so instead of coming up with something nice they copied and pasted? You have to feel for Trenton fans (if there’s any left) about this one…committing to tickets for next year then…surprise! No team to support.

Trenton’s hockey history can be traced back to 1999, when they entered the ECHL as the Trenton Titans. They won the league’s Kelly Cup in 2004-05. Amid some struggling attendance figures, in 2007 New Jersey bought the franchise (after buying the Lowell Lock Monsters the previous year and renaming them the Lowell Devils…we all know how well that worked out) and re-branded them as the Trenton Devils, basically killing off most of the fanbase in an area considered to be Flyers territory. Attendance dwindled more every season, going from 3,515 in 2006-07 to a league worst 2,390 this past season. Their record wasn’t much to write home about either, a 27-37-2-6 mark, second worst in the 19 team league.

For a really good perspective on how the T-Devils basically ceased to exist, check out Mike Ashmore’s blog post from Inside the Trenton Devils.

So of course the next question here is, do Albany fans have to worry that this could happen here too? At first glance, one wouldn’t think so, there’s a 5 year contract in place with the arena and the team spearheaded all the newest additions to the Times Union Center (ribbon lighting, new scoreboard, revamped locker room/weight room). But Trenton’s lease with their home arena, the Sun National Bank Center, actually was through the 2018-19 season. This may also start up the Devils moving to New Jersey rumors again, like with last season’s 4 “home” games in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall spurning talk that after the 5 years are up the AHL franchise would be moved, which were shot down. But if I were a Albany hockey fan, I’d try my hardest (good or bad record) to show support for the team we have here. Because in the business of minor league sports, you just never know what can happen.

2011-12 Hint #2: Division Realignment

Ah, vacation day #3. I picked a good week to take off…this week the AHL Board of Governors are meeting in South Carolina. Just breaking today is the league’s division realignment plan and playoff rules for next season. So here we go:

Eastern Conference:

Atlantic Division: Manchester, Portland, Providence, St. John’s, Worcester

NEW Northeast Division: Adirondack, Albany, Bridgeport, Connecticut, Springfield

East Division: Binghamton, Hershey, Norfolk, Syracuse, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Western Conference:

North Division: Grand Rapids, Hamilton, Lake Erie, Rochester, Toronto

NEW Midwest Division: Charlotte, Chicago, Milwaukee, Peoria, Rockford

West Division: Abbotsford, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Texas

As for the new playoff structure, the league is modeling it after the NHL structure: The 3 division winners will make up the top 3 seeds. The remaining 5 teams will be in order by regular season points totals. The first round will be a best of 5 series; after the first round, the teams will be reseeded by record for the second round, which will be a best of 7 along with the conference finals and the Calder Cup finals. Still waiting word on the list of opponents, that should come out shortly. Of course it’s another 4-6 weeks before the actual schedule gets released.

My take? Travelwise, it makes sense. You have the two closest AHL cities in Adirondack and Springfield in the same division, Connecticut is about a 2 hour drive away as well, Bridgeport takes about 2 1/2-3 hours depending on which route you take (and I know 3 of them now). Which could mean a lot of road trips for me, and you know how I love to travel…win-win for my coverage! And you have New Jersey’s rivals’ (Philly, NY Islanders, NY Rangers) affiliates all together in one division…that dynamic will be an interesting one. I wonder how the schedule will break down with the other 2 divisions in the conference, I just hope it’s evenly spaced out (as in, no 12 games against Adirondack. I know it’s close by and you want a rivalry, but we saw them every other week!). And I feel sorry for the Checkers being moved to the West…you think their travel schedule was bad this year? They’re nowhere close to their new divisional rivals. And with the new playoff format, you could see something like a Bears-Penguins or (yes I live in a dream world, but hypothetically speaking) Devils-Phantoms series with a Calder Cup finals berth on the line. That would make for some very good drama.

Making A Smart Move

The last two days I have cringed watching most teams in the East Division reload for next season. Apparently Hershey didn’t take going out of the first round to Charlotte in April lightly, as they went out the first day and snagged Calder Cup playoff leading scorer Ryan Potulny and lured forward Chris Bourque back from a one year stint in Europe. Wilkes-Barre responded by signing Colin McDonald, who only lead the AHL in goals last year with 42. Anaheim snagged former Bear Andrew Gordon, a possible win for Syracuse. Carolina signed goaltender Brian Boucher to back up Cam Ward, ensuring a potentially scary goaltending tandem in Charlotte with Justin Peters and Mike Murphy. Meanwhile all I saw New Jersey do (but they were good for the parent club) was re-sign Andy Greene and backup goaltender Johan Hedberg. With the Moose back in Jersey, it becomes a battle to see the goaltending pecking order when either him or Brodeur go down between Jeff Frazee, Keith Kinkaid, and a host of junior prospects. And I would assume David Caruso is still in the mix, even though I’m not certain of his contract status.

Then late last night, New Jersey did something smart (yes it is possible). Per a tweet from Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record and Capgeek, leading scorer Matt Anderson has been re-signed to a 2 year two way contract. Not a bad reward for someone who was just brought in on an AHL deal last summer. He only proceeded to lead the Devils in assists and points (Adam Henrique lead in goals by a 25-23 margin) in 76 games played. With Henrique a possibility to stick in New Jersey and possibly losing Chad Wiseman in free agency, this is a big step in the right direction. Another rumor I saw on my Twitter feed this week came via Norton Sports, who represents the Sestito brothers…possibly Tim re-signing with the Devils, meaning the Northway sibling rivalry between good (Tim) and evil (Tom) could resume next season.

In other Devil news this week, the team released six guaranteed home dates for 2011-12: October 8th (the home opener), November 5th, December 4th, December 17th, December 30th, and January 16th. Next step is waiting to see if there is a league realignment and the list of opponents for the season. And of course the wait for the schedule continues as well. Only 97 days to the home opener (but really who’s counting?)…