Better Know An Affiliate: Colorado Avalanche

AHL: Colorado Eagles (36-27-4-1, 4th in Pacific, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: In their first year of the AHL, the Eagles will probably stick around as the primary affiliate for a while, especially since– you know– they’re in the same state as their parent club. Previous to the Eagles, the Avalanche had their top prospects with the San Antonio Rampage, Lake Erie Monsters, Albany River Rats, Lowell Lock Monsters, Hershey Bears, and the Cornwall Aces
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: With the number of signings and trades made, the Avs are deep as it is– that’s going to make it harder for someone like AJ Greer to crack the opening night roster, but will make him a candidate for the shuttle. Logan O’Connor will be a dark horse to be a shuttle player down the middle, but he could definitely use a lot more time in the AHL before getting too familiar with the Avalanche line-depth.

ECHL: Utah Grizzlies (37-26-4-5, 3rd in Mountain, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Grizzlies were another first-year affiliate for the Avalanche, though it’s only because the Eagles moved up to the AHL after being the Avs’ secondary affiliation for two seasons. The Avs split between the ECHL and CHL when the latter was an option. Prior to the Eagles, the Fort Wayne Komets were the secondary affiliates, with the Denver Cutthroats, Tulsa Oilers, Charlotte Checkers, Johnstown Chiefs, Arizona Sundogs and San Diego Gulls played the role of starting point for future Avs.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: A couple of graduates from the ECHL Grizzlies include Mikko Koskinen, Aaron Dell, Micheal Haley– all who started their careers there, while the likes of Brandon Yip and Richard Jackman ended their North American careers there.

Better Know An Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks

AHL: Rockford IceHogs (35-31-4-6, 7th in Central, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: Since 2007, the IceHogs have been serving their in-state parent as their primary affiliate, though the Blackhawks had a tendancy to use other leagues over the AHL for their primary affiliate. Aside from Rockford and previous to them, the Norfolk Admirals; the Hawks used teams in the IHL like the Indianapolis Ice and Saginaw Hawks, as well as teams in the CHL– including the Dallas Black Hawks and St. Louis Braves as their primary affiliates from the 1960s until 2000. They had spot AHL affiliations with the Portland Pirates (1998-99), Nova Scotia Oilers (1985-87), Springfield Indians (1982-84) and New Brunswick Hawks (1978-82). Before that, the Buffalo Bisons were their AHL affiliate from 1954 until 1966. With being an “Original Six” team, the Hawks had many amateur teams in the beginning, as well as teams from the WHL and USHL when they were pro leagues.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: While a change of scenery could be a good thing, Alex Nylander may be on the shuttle plenty with his new squad, as he did get better in his second AHL season opposed to his first. Nylander will be in a fight with Dylan Sikura, who himself is in a make-or-break season– as he was a shuttler last season during the Hawks rough season of injury. Collin Delia is the obviously choice depending upon Corey Crawford’s health.

ECHL: Indy Fuel (35-32-2-3, 5th in Central, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: While the Fuel have been the secondary affiliate for the Blackhawks for five seasons, the length of their secondary with the Toledo Walleye (2009-2014), the times before that were very one-and-done for the Hawks and secondary affiliates. The Fresno Falcons, Greenville Grrrowl, Pensacola Ice Pilots, Roanoke Express, Jackson Bandits, and Hampton Roads Admirals were their all their secondary affiliates from 1999 until 2009.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: Delia has been the standout graduate of this young franchise, making his presence known with the Hawks last season, while the only other notable would be Justin Holl– who started his career in Indy before leaving the Hawks organization to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Better Know An Affiliate: Carolina Hurricanes

AHL: Charlotte Checkers (51-17-7-1, 1st in Atlantic, Won Calder Cup)
TEAM LINEAGE: The defending Calder Cup Champions have been alongside their state-parent for the past decade, which makes sense for call-ups and to make the entire state familiar with the Hurricanes present and future. Prior to the Checkers being moved up to the AHL, the Canes had two affiliates with the best names in minor league hockey with the Albany River Rats and the Lowell Lock Monsters. From 1999 to 2001, the Canes actually went to the IHL for their primary affiliation with the Cincinnati Cyclones, when their previous AHL affiliate– the Beast of New Haven (and their gaudy logo)– were the team’s first affiliate from 1997 until 1999.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: Newly signed Chase Priskie could very well make a big impact on the blueline in Charlotte that he could be back and from from the Queen City to the Triangle. Martin Necas spent some time in the big leagues last year and could see more frequency, should he continue on his solid campaign from last season. Alex Nedeljkovic is primed for another big year in the AHL after his tremendous season in 2018-19…that is if he doesn’t make the team outright from camp.

ECHL: Greenville Swamp Rabbits (25-41-3-3, 7th in South, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: This will be the first season with the Canes and Rabbits being together. This after a solid 18-year run with the Florida Everblades, who helped bring along the aforementioned Nedeljkovic, though many of those years they split affiliation with Tampa Bay. During the 2001-02 season, the Greensboro Generals were the secondary Canes affiliate, while the Richmond Renegades were the first secondary affiliate in the team’s history.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: There hasn’t been many graduates of the Swamp Rabbits/Road Warriors’ tribe when they were with the New York Rangers, though goalies like Cam Talbot and Brandon Halverson have played in Greenville prior to their appearances in the NHL.

Better Know An Affiliate: Calgary Flames

AHL: Stockton Heat (31-31-4-2, 6th in Pacific, Did Not Qualify for playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: One of the five teams that moved to California, previous to this– the Flames have had quite the history of affiliates in the previous 15 years. Stockton was moved from Adirondack, though that was only a one-year stop for the Flames and the Adirondack Flames. Before that, the only Western team in the AHL was the Abbotsford Heat from 2009 until 2014 and previous to that– Quad City, Omaha, and Lowell after the 10 seasons they spent in Saint John, New Brunswick.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: His prolific scoring in the AHL has Dillon Dube on the radar for the Flames, but with the depth they have in front of him; his better than point-per-game average may not be enough for him to crack the opening night roster, but it’ll be hard to ignore if he can keep that pace. With the injury to Juuso Valimaki, defense got a little more wide open. Should he adjust to the North American game, Alexander Yelesin could see some shuttle time by mid-season to help out with more depth in the show.

ECHL: Kansas City Mavericks (36-30-4-2, 4th in Mountain, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Mavericks and Flames marriage happened after the Flames moved on from the Adirondack Thunder– the replacement for the Stockton Thunder. After a long-term secondary affiliation with the Johnstown Chiefs, Las Vegas Wranglers, and Utah Grizzlies; Calgary bounced around the ECHL with Alaska Aces, Colorado Eagles, and Adirondack before hunkering down in Kansas City.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: The only two graduates to the NHL the ECHL Mavericks have turned out have been Tanner Fritz and Maxime Lagace. Fritz has been shuttled from Bridgeport to Long Island the past two seasons, but his first half-season with the Mavericks got him the permanent call-up to Bridgeport. Lagace got his start in Kansas City, as well, and has gone on to be the third goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights; including helping out when all the goalies went down during their inaugural season.

Better Know An Affiliate: Buffalo Sabres

AHL: Rochester Americans (46-23-5-2, 2nd in North, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: This is the second go-round for the Sabres and the Rochester Americans. The Sabres returned to Rochester in 2011, but prior to that– they spent 1979 until 2008 with the Americans in one of the longest affiliations in history. In between Rochester stints, the Sabres put their top young players in Portland with the Pirates, while before their first landing in Rochester, the Hershey Bears and Cincinnati Swords were the top affiliate of the Sabres, though the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the old WHL was the first Sabres affiliate in history.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: While Viktor Olofsson could make the team out of camp on the mid-six at the left wing (though he could be fighing CJ Smith for that spot), Rasmus Asplund could have trouble trying to break through the center depth of the Sabres– not only the ones they have now, but the ones they have coming up, as well. If all goes well for Arttu Ruotsalainen in his transition to North America, he could see some time on the shuttle back and forth.

ECHL: Cincinnati Cyclones (51-13-5-3, 1st in Central, lost in second round)
TEAM LINEAGE: While they started in the ECHL, the Cyclones really made their mark in the IHL before coming back to the ECHL in 2002. However, with the Sabres, they’ve only been around two seasons. Prior to that, the Elmira Jackals, BC Icemen, South Carolina Stingrays, St. Thomas Wildcats, Erie Panthers, and Winston-Salem Thunderbirds were some of the secondary affiliates for the Sabres.
NOTABLE GRADUATE: One of the more notable graduates of the Cyclones is David Desharnais, who played his first pro season in Cincinnati and put up 106 points in 68 games, while also potting 33 points in 22 playoff games, helping the Cyclones to the 2008 Kelly Cup. Other alums include Byron Froese and Cory Conacher both got their early career going in Cincinnati.

Better Know An Affiliate: Boston Bruins

The season is right around the corner, so why not let people into the whole line of teams that their parent team will be dealing with throughout the season. I did this a few years back on another website of mine, so why not revive it and go from there??

AHL: Providence Bruins (38-27-8-3, 4th in Atlantic, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Bruins and P-Bruins have one of the longest affiliation histories out there with the two being linked since 1992. The franchise itself was spawned of the Maine Mariners, which was the primary affiliates of the Bruins since 1987. Previous to that, Boston had their primary affiliates be the Moncton Golden Flames, Hershey Bears, Baltimore Skipjacks, Springfield Indians, Broome Dusters, and Providence Reds to name a few for a team with a 93-year history.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: Despite last year starting with a concussion, Urho Vaakanainen came back strong with solid play in Providence after a wonderful World Junior run. He won’t be the flashiest offensively, but Vaakanainen brings a high IQ on the blueline to the Bruins team. There’s a very outside chance that Zach Senyshyn gets shuttled back and forth between the Bruins. The issue with Senyshyn is that people knock him for the little things he doesn’t do right. People know he has all the tools, but little mistakes make a huge impact on people’s perspective of him.

ECHL: Atlanta Gladiators (31-30-8-3, 5th in South, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Gladiators have been with the Bruins since 2015, the same year they switched from the Gwinnett Gladiators to Atlanta. Boston has used the ECHL fairly well, starting a secondary affiliation with the Johnstown Chiefs starting in 1991. Since then, they’ve had stops with the Charlotte Checkers, Greenville Grrrowl, Reading Royals, and South Carolina Stingrays before settling down with Atlanta.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: In all honesty, there hasn’t been many players from the Gladiators to have notable careers after playing in Atlanta. Colin Stuart had some time in the show after a stint in the ECHL, Ryan Garbutt spent 10 games with the Gladiators before going up to Dallas, as Patrick Dwyer also started his pro career with the Gladiators before having a serviceable career. Louis Domingue had some time in Gwinnett over three season before getting into his back-up niche, while Marylander Jamie Fritsch had his first full pro season with the Gladiators in 2009-10.

Better Know An Affiliate: Arizona Coyotes

The season is right around the corner, so why not let people into the whole line of teams that their parent team will be dealing with throughout the season. I did this a few years back on another website of mine, so why not revive it and go from there??

AHL: Tuscon Roadrunners (34-25-5-3, 5th in Pacific, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: After the California teams moved, the Coyotes bought the Springfield Falcons and moved them to Tucson in 2016. Much like the rest of the AHL Pacific, the reasoning was so that players didn’t have to make cross-country flights in the event of a call-up. Before the Roadrunners, the Coyotes bookended their affiliation with Springfield– who was their first affiliate from 1996 until 2004, with the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder taking some players in 1998-99. After the first time with the Falcons, the Coyotes put their prospects with the Utah Grizzlies, San Antonio Rampage, and Portland Pirates before returning to Springfield and the moving to Tucson.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: Goalie Adin Hill is a likely candidate depending upon the health of the goalies above him, but it could be a look at the blue-line for guys moving up and down. Robbie Russo, who signed a one-year, two-way deal this summer, has a lot of offensive upside that could be useful for the Coyotes moving ahead. Though, Russo’s age could play a factor– which means that another talented blue-liner– who already had some time with the Coyotes– Kyle Capobianco has the same offensive upside, but is four years younger and has a better two-way play element that Russo has; albeit very slightly.

ECHL: Rapid City Rush (30-33-5-4, 6th in Mountain, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Coyotes moved back to the Black Hills of South Dakota, as the Rush return as the ECHL affiliate after the Coyotes left in 2017. The Coyotes have had a bevvy of secondary affiliates across a couple leagues– ECHL, UHL, and CHL– over the 23-year franchise history. In fact, the Coyotes have had multiple secondary affiliates four times in their franchise history: 2001-02 (Mississippi Sea Wolves and BC Icemen), 2006-07 (Phoenix Roadrunners and Laredo Bucks), 2010-11 (Las Vegas Wranglers and Laredo Bucks), and 2012 until 2014 (Gwinnett Gladiators and Arizona Sundogs).
NOTABLE GRADUATES: There have been a couple of Rush players who have moved up from the Rush to the NHL, including Adin Hill, Marek Langhamer, and Michael Bunting– all of which were called through the Coyotes system.

Better Know An Affiliate: Anaheim Ducks

The season is right around the corner, so why not let people into the whole line of teams that their parent team will be dealing with throughout the season. I did this a few years back on another website of mine, so why not revive it and go from there??

AHL: San Diego Gulls (36-24-5-3, 3rd in Pacific Division, Lost in Western Conference Final.
TEAM LINEAGE: Among the core-five of the Pacific Division, the Gulls came to be after the Ducks purchased the Norfolk Admirals and moved them to San Diego. The Gulls used to be the top affiliate for the Ducks between 1993 and 1995 when the Gulls were a part of the IHL. Previous affiliation stop for the Ducks include the Baltimore Bandits, Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, Portland Pirates, Iowa Chops, Syracuse Crunch, and Norfolk.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: It’s a mixed bag with the Ducks, who are in the transition period with their current roster and what they need in the future. Sam Carrick is in the older side of the scale at 27, but also was a point-per-game player last year and had 32 goals on the campaign. More realistic is that younger players in Sam Steele and Troy Terry, who will be given more than a far shot at training camp to make it off the bat. Both had 41 points last season, but Terry put up those numbers in only 41 games compared to Steele’s 53.

ECHL: The Ducks are one of the few teams without an ECHL affiliate. With only one team, the Norfolk Admirals, without a NHL parent club– pickings are slim should the Ducks want to have more spots for their prospects. It will be their second season without an ECHL affiliate, as the Ducks were left without one when the Utah Grizzlies moved over to the Colorado Avalanche in 2018. Previous stops for the Ducks in the ECHL include the Greensboro Monarchs, Raleigh IceCaps, Columbus Chill, Huntington Blizzard, San Diego Gulls, Augusta Lynx, Bakersfield Condors, Elmira Jackals, and then Utah.

Face Off Hockey Show: Barely Legal

Half my life.

That’s the time I’ve spent conducting the Face Off Hockey Show. And it’s been a helluva ride. So many studios, so many production changes, so much new technology. The only constant was the hosts and Marc moving every five or so years.

The show itself isn’t much, we’ve had our chances to expand only for the season-killing lockout of 2004-05 to really squash that. But it has afforded me the opportunity to do a lot of things I never thought I would, travel places I didn’t think I’d get to, and do some things I thought I would do– but didn’t know when it’d happen. It’s also helped my writing career and all of that, too.

Face Off Hockey Show is a podcast that pre-dates the iPod by two-and-a-half months. Of course, we just called them “archived on-demand streams” at that time, so it’s not like you could carry it with you. But smartphones weren’t a thing either, so it’s not like you could have downloaded to your mobile device.

Since then, we’ve created more podcasts, killed more podcasts, and won a Labatt Blue hockey tournament. What other podcast can say that?? Maybe a few. Still though, it’s been a fun time for all involved…I hope.

Hell, the NHL knows about us enough to not really let us into events under our own name anymore. Thanks NHL HQ!!

While we’re deep into this, there is still a little hope of us actually hitting it big at some point. All of us have good jobs right now and if a life-changing offer came along, we’d have to think long and hard about it– but it would be awesome to start doing it every day as a job.

“How can WE help??” no one reading this said. Glad you asked. The FOHS Media Faction Patreon is a way to do it. We’re doing all kinds of stuff this summer and hopefully going into the next season. Maybe check it out and go from there. It’d be great if you could.

In another 18 years, I’ll be in my 50s and who knows if we’ll still be doing it or if media will be the same now. But it’s been fun doing FOHS for all these years and I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to it. Here’s to more years and more times that our media servers change their way of doing things for us to keep up with the times.

So…if you’re so inclined– an 18-year-old show. As always– take care of yourself and someone else.

The Curious Case of Calgary’s Off-season

After a season that saw them win the Western Conference in the regular season (then subsequently get bounced in five games of the first round), you could maybe see the Calgary Flames starting the building block of a sound reboot of their team. Then the off-season came…and things got really….odd.

Mike Smith goes away, which is fine because he isn’t young anymore, wasn’t as dynamic as he was years ago, and his save percentage– which was always pretty solid despite his inflated GAA– was the worst of his career at .898 for the season. David Rittich was a welcome surprise, but even though he’s the presumed starter; the depth behind him isn’t as promising as some made it out to be. Jon Gillies hasn’t progressed as well as many thought he would, while Tyler Parsons is a surprise in net, but still is a few years away from being considered. Add this to Rittich going to arbitration after his 27-win season last year– there could be some instability there for the Flames.

And what better to help that instability than…..Cam Talbot?! Talbot, or as I’ll call him– younger Mike Smith, was signed to a Missouri (show-me) contract for a year…which may mean that the 32-year-old could be looking at being the starter only because his experience trumps Rittich and Bill Peters seems to hate success. Talbot had two good seasons as a starter after his first shaky season in Edmonton, but soon crashed to Earth when the Oilers became the Oilers again and were terrible. While might be a good back-up or even platoon option– beyond that; it could be just a younger Mike Smith. Yet, a hunger to be better might be a good thing if Talbot can actually follow through.

Then comes the coup-de-gras, which happens to also involve a former Oiler (like Talbot), but one that’s much more of a liability than Talbot could be.

The Calgary Flames traded FOR….FOR Milan Lucic, sending James Neal to Edmonton and inexplicably making it the worst deal in recent history– even more than the Erat/Forsberg deal years back.

To be honest– Neal didn’t light up the world for the Flames last year with seven goals and 19 points in 2018-19 after a 25-goal campaign in Vegas a season prior. Could have been the first year jitters, could have been– as Neal subtly eluded to– the fact people couldn’t get him the puck. With four more years left at $5.75M, the Flames thought it was time to move on from him after one season because who cares about waiting it out– one season means he’ll be like that the next four years.

Enter the Oilers who had an issue with one of their high-priced players who wasn’t performing in the first couple years of his deal and has a no-move clause– so the Flames bail them out and take on that contract (four years) and the declining stat line of Milan Lucic….and somehow thought this was a good idea. Lucic has gotten steadily worse since 2015 with a combined 16 goals in the last two seasons for a guy who is capable of 20-goals in a season because he has five of those previously. Yet, the speed, the skill, the overall landscape of the game has changed and it seemed that Lucic couldn’t keep up in Edmonton– so how does anyone think it’ll get better down the QE2 in Calgary?? Especially since he’ll be in the bottom-six making $5.25M in the remaining years.

It’s a good thing that people are leaking details of the new arena project that’s going to happen to replace the archaic Saddledome, mostly because people in Calgary need something to talk them off the edge. There’s promise with this team– so long as Johnny Gaudreau can come out of his playoff hiding, Sean Monahan can continue to improve his game, while Sam Bennett hopes to build off of being the only Flames forward to really show up to the series against Colorado.

And who knows– maybe Lucic can find some kind of scoring touch without the pressure of being the winger-du-jour for Connor McDavid and Talbot could find his magic that helped him get fourth-place in Vezina voting a few years back…but with the Flames luck in recent years; it might take a lot of doing and hunger for that to become a reality.