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November 19, 2008

Pete Michaud: Hello from Worcester!


Hello, Admirals?from Worcester (Massachusetts), where the Admirals are in the midst of their 2-week, 7-game road trip! The club is 2-1-0-1 so far on the trip (5 of a possible 8 points), so it?s been a good trip so far.

Despite letting a few 3rd period leads get away, the Admirals have played well on the trek. The ?Triple S? line of Szczechura, Segal and Smolenak are still racking up points. Guys like Zenon Konopka and Andrew Hutchinson are playing much better. And new additions like Jason Ward and Steve Downie have certainly helped. The defense, although showing signs of improvement, still needs some work, but it?s coming along.

Brandon Segal, who has been one of the club?s best players this season, was injured in the middle of the 2nd period Sunday in Providence. He left with an upper body injury and did not return. Thankfully, everything checked out OK with Segal physically, but he did not practice Tuesday, so I would not expect to see him Wednesday night in Worcester.

In last week?s blog entry, I mentioned that I?d try to answer any questions you might email me (my email address is below). Connie in Va. Beach wrote to ask if players changed roommates on the road through the year or if they keep the same roommate. Some teams keep players together all year, while others mix things up on a regular basis. Assistant Coach Alan May makes the rooming list for each trip. He?s been switching up the rooming list to this point, but he tells me he?ll probably keep the same players together as roommates for the rest of the season. It usually takes a few weeks to find what guys work best as roommates. You probably don?t put a guy who likes to go to sleep early with a guy who sits up and watches late night TV. You don?t put together a guy who likes the air-conditioning on in the middle of winter with a guy who wants the heat cracked up. Players can make requests for roommates, but the coaches have the final say. Most hockey teams employ the same basic ideas when it comes to a rooming list. Goaltenders, for one, always room together. Goalies are competing for the same job, but coaches want them to get along and work together for the good of the team, so they usually room together. Most teams also room European players with North American guys. This forces them to speak more English and helps them adjust to the culture here. With 2 players per room, and the Admirals having an odd number of players on this trip, one lucky player gets a single room. That perk on this trip goes to Jamie Heward, since he?s the team?s oldest and most experienced player.

I also got an email from a fan in Philadelphia asking why the Admirals don?t fly to road games at the Tampa Bay Lightning?s expense, rather than bus to games. Well, all road expenses?buses, hotels, meal money, etc?are paid by the Admirals. The parent club does NOT pay for the AHL teams? transportation. Needless to say, going by bus is much cheaper than flying. Without going into too much detail, the basic agreement between most NHL teams and their AHL affiliate works like this?The AHL team pays the NHL team a flat fee for an affiliation. For that money, the NHL team provides and pays the salaries of all the players, the coaches, the General Manager, the trainer and the equipment manager. I?m the only person on the Admirals bus who is actually an employee of the Admirals. Everyone else is employed by and paid by the Lightning.

On to other subjects now. While it may seem glamorous to travel around the AHL and stay in nice hotels, it?s not always what it shapes up to be. When the team arrived in Worcester on Monday, the hotel had all the rooms for the players ready, but rooms for the staff (coaches, G.M., trainer, equipment manager and yours truly) weren?t ready. We were forced to wait for nearly 2 hours before we could get in our rooms. The players, many of whom had checked in, taken a nap, changed clothes and came back to the lobby while we were still waiting, found it quite humorous to find several staff members (I won?t name them specifically) asleep on the lobby couches!

At almost every AHL arena, complete game notes and statistics are left in each locker room for the players and coaches. The Admirals players found it pretty amusing when they read in the Manchester Monarchs game notes last weekend that Admirals forward Jason Ward is the half-brother of Boston Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward. It?s amusing because it?s not true! Jason told me if Aaron is his half-brother, it?s news to him! Both hail from Ontario, but that?s the only connection. You could find this incorrect ?fact,? however, reported in other places, like Wikipedia (unless someone has gone in to edit that note out). Wikipedia also stated that Ward is the great-grandson of Montgomery Ward, the founder of the former retail chain. I talked about this with Jason, who tells that is also not true. He said it?s the first he?s ever heard of such a thing.

Norfolk goalie Mike McKenna picked up his first win a few days ago on this trip. Now, we look forward to his first game with his newly painted Admirals mask. McKenna has been playing to this point with a mask painted with the colors and design of his team from last year, the Portland Pirates. Mike, who is a huge fan of open-wheel, Indy-car type racing, tells me his new mask with have a racing theme to go along with Admirals items. Minor league goalies always get last priority behind the NHL guys from mask painters, so who knows how much longer it will be before it?s done. McKenna tells me, however, that he has seen preliminary work on the mask, so it might be getting close.

Well, that?s it for this edition. Hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, feel free to email me and I?ll try to answer in an upcoming edition. Another blog entry comes up soon. Until then?

Pete (pete@norfolkadmirals.com)




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