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.

Comparing the Expansion: Vegas vs. Seattle Round 1: General Manager

The Seattle 32nds are just three off-seasons away from being a real team and we all know that they’ll constantly be compared to the Vegas Golden Knights because…well, why not?? They’re both coming into the NHL within five years of each other, they both are going to fill out the Western Conference, and we’re a culture of comparisons and results– therefore, it’s time to get the wheels going on the comparisons for nothing more but summer content.

On Thursday, the Seattles made their first plunge into the world with Ron Francis being named the team’s first general manager. Francis comes from the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was GM from 2014 until 2018 when he was let go after new owner Thomas Dundon came in. While he had a year off, Francis will have a fresh slate to start off with being at the helm.

VGK COMPARABLE: The Golden Knights were introduced in June of 2016, with their hiring George McPhee in July of 2016. With only two off-seasons to prepare, the Seattles definitely are giving Francis more time to settle. McPhee was still within the game after being dismissed as the Capitals GM in 2014, though– like Francis– had a year off before moving on in his personnel career.

Back to Francis, his tenure in Carolina was short and not so sweet. With only four seasons, Francis didn’t see the playoffs at all and never cracking the 90-point plateau. While the young core was building, he didn’t get to see it through with his dismissal before this miraculous run this year in the playoffs. While he does have that “good hockey guy” label, it’s not necessarily a good thing if he cannot get results from this new team that he’s specifically putting together.

VGK COMPARABLE: McPhee stepped into Vegas with 14 years of GM experience with the Capitals, including eight 40-plus win seasons, seven Division titles, one Presidents Trophy, and one Stanley Cup appearance. He was through the ups and downs and ups again with the Cup final, blending into the desperate times of acquiring an unmotivated Jaromir Jagr which led to the Caps Fire Sale and then the building up the team around Alex Ovechkin. Being through all of those events definitely helped McPhee be able to adjust and got some fate from VGK owner Bill Foley to give him the reins of the team.

The next big step is to start looking for a coach. With the team not starting for another three seasons will be a hard sell for Francis, which is not something Vegas had to deal with as they only were one season out from their start. The biggest question is will Francis go with someone who’s established and already been through the cycle of the NHL or will he actually start with someone fresh and clean and ready for an opportunity like this.

VGK COMPARABLE: McPhee was able to get Gerard Gallant in April of 2017 in the off-season before their start. Thanks to the Florida Panthers silliness, McPhee really lucked out on him and it’s been the best choice so far, as the Stanley Cup appearance and two consecutive playoff appearances have showed. While it is a bit of a luck of the draw for coaches, you can say that Vegas put their money on the right number on the coaching roulette table.


So there we go– the first round of the comparisons everyone is going to make. When you look at it long-term, Vegas has the advantage in spades. They got a GM who was established, knew the league, knew what to do in different situations, and knew who to put in charge. No disrespect to Francis, but his short track record is suspect; though you can say it may rank up with an “Incomplete” grade considering he was there for a shorter time than some.

The Reboot of Hunter Miska

Coming out of Minnesota-Duluth, there were high hopes for Hunter Miska. Sure, he only put in one season, but got the Bulldogs to the final of the National Championship, was the most outstanding goaltender in the NCAA, and looked to be on a solid collision course with success in the pros; especially since he signed with the Arizona Coyotes— who probably was looking for a young, hungry talent to be the new franchise goalie.

Then…something just didn’t click. While he did have a stellar rookie season with the Tucson Roadrunners (22-9-0), his sophomore season wasn’t all it was cracked up to be with a 10-8-4 record, coupled with a 3.08 GAA and .889 save percentage. Because of that– he wasn’t tendered and became an unrestricted free agent. He caught on with the Colorado Eagles for the 2019-20 season, but how did he get there from a promising outlook out of his one year in the NCAA??

Maybe it was just that– only one year in college when he should have taken another year or two more in order to get his game a little more honed before jumping– but can’t blame someone for wanting to get paid for their job. That first year looked promising as many players didn’t have tape on him to figure him out, but obviously the fate was changed in year two while Adin Hill and Merrick Madsen passed him by on the depth chart.

An upside for Miska is that he has a winning pedigree. Before his time at Duluth where he help lead them to the National Title game, he was a big part of the Penticton Vees BCHL title in 2015, while also being named top goalie in the league that year. Following that, he went to the USHL and helped Dubuque get to the Clark Cup Finals in 2016, though he and the Fighting Saints came up short.

With a new team and a new reset on his career at a young age, it could be crunch time for Miska, especially since he’s only under an AHL contract and the Avalanche do have a bit of goaltending depth coming up. He’ll be teamed up with Adam Werner, who will be coming over from Sweden for his first North American season– which could be a bit of an opening for Miska to get playing time should Werner struggle getting adjusted to the North American style.

You just hope that for Miska’s sake– the risk he took coming out of the college early didn’t stunt his progression moving onward in his career.

On the Topic Of Da Beauty League

Photo via DaBeautyLeague.com

I don’t think I get Da Beauty League. And that’s fine.

A lot of it has to do with the name of the league, especially with the fact I don’t use the hockey lingo in an unironic fashion. Just like how people call the EA Sports NHL line “Chel.” The whole short-speak doesn’t really register with me…until I use it as goofs and then it works in way to my vernacular and I become the worst.

Overall, though, I guess I don’t get the idea of it. Granted, it’s a nice alternative than just guys doing dryland and private skates. It puts them in a game-type situation, but it seems like it would be a big risk of injury from some kind of freak accident that they’ll endanger their NHL contracts for a time to be in a rec league.

While it does fill the void for some people who are in the “live hockey 24/7” camp; it just seems like something that’s somewhat unnecessary. Call me “not a real fan” for not wanting to see pro players play rec hockey…but I also hate the All-Star Game, so at least my opinion of this sort of thing is consistent.

But, like I said– it does give guys variety in their summer workout, the league does get sponsorship, and it seems to appeal to a certain sector of people who can’t go three months without watching hockey in the summer. That’s fine, I get that– and you could call it supply-and-demand if these Minnesotans or other hockey fans travel up to pay to watch these guys play in a rec setting. And there is a charity element to this, which is very awesome and should be at the upfront of this, but I’m not a marketing wizard– so I don’t make these moves. Hell– they even win a keg named after John Scott as a championship. Such a hockey bro thing to do. And that’s fine.

Maybe it’s a part of me getting older, maybe it’s watching too much hockey during the season that burns me out for the off-season, maybe it’s looking back at how I was when I was in that 24/7 mindset and shut off other things trying to get people to tune into hockey– which may or may not have made them tune out due to annoyance factor. Hell, it could just me not being their demographic. I just don’t understand that whole lifestyle thing anymore since I don’t play at a competitive level (or at all) anymore. And that’s fine.

Good on them for doing it and give some segment something to get excited about during the summer…but I guess it’s not for me. And that’s fine. Because things don’t have to be for everyone. Just don’t be an asshole about it on either side of the fence.

Black Bears II: Electric Boogaloo: 2019-20 NAHL Schedule Released

Photo by Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

Tuesday evening, the NAHL released the schedule for the 2019-20 season, which means we can all start figuring out when Scotty is going to get home to see the Maryland Black Bears play in his old arena. There will be 60 regular season games, including the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota– and it’ll be a time for the Black Bears to see if they can not fall into a sophomore slump and make a big push in the East Division.

Puck drop for the Black Bears is at home on September 13th, as the New Jersey Titans will be at The Den at Piney Orchard for the two-game weekend set; which is the exact same match-up to open up the season last year. The Black Bears went 3-8-1 last season against the Titans, but played them tight with the exceptions of the first and last games of the year against them.

Maryland will play three-game weekends twice in the new season, first against the Northeast Generals November 8th through the 10th, while they’ll make their first trip up to Lewiston, Maine to take on the Nordiques December 13th through the 15th. The Black Bears will only see the Nordiques twice next season, with Maine traveling to Piney Orchard February 14th and 15th for a Valentine’s Day weekend of fun.

Of course, with Maine being the new team in town and travel being hell (about 550 miles between the two rinks), that’s seems to be the only reason why there isn’t more than two meetings between these teams. The Black Bears will get their fair share of their normal foes in Johnstown, Jamestown, Northeast, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and New Jersey in a push to make their first post-season appearance.

It should also be noted that the NAHL Showcase is not put into the schedule yet, but that will happen September 18th through 21st at the Schwan Super Rink. This will be the only time before the Robertson Cup Final Four that the Black Bears will play outside of their division.

2019 Free Agency Day One: Talking is Fine, Offer Sheets are Fine, Big Money is Fine

Unlike Corey Hirsch– who I respect as a solid voice on commentary– I don’t have a problem with the talking period that the NHL has instilled in the league prior to the Free Agency period opening. Honestly, it actually makes things more fun when it comes to guessing where players are going. In fact, even if there’s some contract details that leak out– that’s fine– less work for everyone and people in Canada can actually enjoy their day off for Canada Day.

Even with the terms of collusion and tampering coming up– if the team that had their contract wanted then so badly; they would have given the offer they wanted before it got to the courting process. Maybe by talking to other teams, it gives the leverage to the players in getting more money on where they’re at now. It’s a thing that these players fought for in terms of getting free agency earlier and then be able to choose where they want to be.

And choose they did.

As of this writing, 118 players were selected to a total of a 229 years in contract terms and almost $700M in contract dollars being thrown around on the first day of the new season.

When it comes to big splashes, you have to think the Florida Panthers made some move in not only picking up Sergei Bobrovsky after Roberto Luongo retired and James Reimer was traded, but smaller deals like Brett Connolly, Noel Acciari, and Anton Stralman give the Panthers more of a well-rounded look to them.

The biggest fish was, of course, Artemi Panarin, who went to the New York Rangers for seven seasons. At just over $11.6M a year, that’s a lot of dough to throw around for a team that was in the middle of a rebuild that has seemingly been put on hiatus. With many fans being happy for the move, the more logical among them are cautious when it comes to the move; citing that it’s a fancy move, but maybe not one to propel them far in the playoffs if they get there.

Though the best move of the day had to go to Marc Bergevin by actually have a pair to give out an offer sheet…and to have the player in Sebastian Aho sign it. There’s plenty of bonus money in the deal, including $11.3M in the first year and $9.8M in the second year. If nothing else you have to give the Canadiens credit for at least attempting something.

While all signs put to the Canes matching the offer, this was the year that teams needed to make offer sheets on RFAs or else it was a worthless clause to have in the CBA. One of the biggest things now is to see what will happen, if anything, when it comes to Mitch Marner. It does add another layer to the whole process; which is something we didn’t think we’d ever see again.

Tepid Take: 2019 NHL Draft Fallout

The 2019 NHL Draft weekend has come and gone and what a weekend it was, huh?? Personally, it’s my 16th Draft and third working for the University of North Dakota. For those stories about Shane Pinto, Harrison Blaisdell, Judd Caulfield, and Brad Berry’s reaction— go to those links in the name.

Shockingly– there was more that went on. I know. So, here’s a rundown of that from me…with the most tepid of takes.

First, you can’t really talk about what happened after before you talk about the salary cap being set at $81.5M, which was a bit of a lower figure than many people thought it would be. Luckily, having it happen before the draft gave teams the time to scrambled to see what they can get done. Which…some did.

Toronto was the first to make a salary dump– which they needed to do anyway if they wanted to re-sign Mitch Marner to a big money deal. They unloaded the Patrick Marleau contract to Carolina, along with both swapping picks. Marleau’s contract has a year left and with the uncertainty of Justin Williams’ future– it’ll provide a veteran presence with this team– just in case they needed it coming off of last year’s wonderful run.

With that move, it effectively took the Maple Leafs out of the running for PK Subban; which was actually a possible destination for the Nashville defenseman….well, ex-Nashville defenseman.

Subban was moved to the New Jersey Devils for prospects and picks going to Nashville– which probably moved the Predators in the running for Matt Duchene. But to Subban– this is the second trade he’s been through, which is odd for a guy that is considered one of the premier defensemen in the league. Three years left on the contract for Subban and the Devils needing some experience back there seems like a good fit.but as much as he wants a Stanley Cup in New Jersey– it could be quite and uphill struggle to get that.

As for the Draft itself, it was a Draft that USA Hockey won’t soon forget. Seventeen players from the US National Development Program were selected and 59 US players were picked overall. It’s a huge boost to the program in itself and really shows how much the USA program is evolving and catching up to their Canadian counterparts, who had 63 players picked overall.

Overall, players jumped, players fell, the Draft is usually something you can’t tell will pan out until five years down the line and they graduate where they’re from and maybe make it to “The Show” in that time frame.

Vancouver was fun overall, personally. It’s the first re-run for me and I didn’t have my running buddies with me all the time and didn’t have a Dufferin experience– but overall it was a good time.

Next up for the NHL, it’s the free agency talking period leading into the free agency period and everyone forgetting they own a calendar and asking if it’s October yet.

On the Topic Of Second-Screen Viewing

As the St. Louis Blues closed out their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the NBC machine rolled on with all the stock lines that Mike Emrick has compiled through his years of broadcast and recycle them for this moment. Pierre McGuire talked to a player and told him to have fun. Eddie Olczyk was probably looking at the race form for the track tomorrow. Then when their NBC slotted time was up, they all left and let the NBCSN crew take it from there.

That’s when I thought…why are they just now getting a bigger chance on the biggest stage for their sport?? It seems like they had to be put in some position post-game to warrant getting shipped out there and all of that. There’s times in Jeremy Roenick’s interviewing that you prayed for Pierre to come back and talk to these guys– because he knows how to and JR really doesn’t.

It also makes me wonder if there’s a chance that NBC and NBCSN can team up for possible clinching games to have a two-screen experience and an alternate to their regular coverage that people would want to see. Granted, that would maybe hurt ratings by splitting them, but ratings are in actuality a scheme created by boxing and wrestling to make something bigger than it actually is and in the end– it means nothing. I mean, hell– NBCSN was showing tape-delayed Monster Jam episodes which, I’m sure has an audience, but they’ll still be watching at midnight and beyond for that stuff or during one of the many replays they’ll have.

The second-screen thing for a championship has been done before by NBC and NBCSN for NASCAR’s final race of the year in Homestead. The main network had the usual race broadcast with the regular broadcasting crew, whereas NBCSN had the in-car cameras for each of the Championship 4 contenders, more in-car audio, and alternate commentators to give another side of the spectrum.

Granted, the two sports are different animals, but you have to look at the possibility of alternate camera work, alternate broadcasters, or even a possible “Watch Along” thing where there’s people brought in to comment over the game, as if you were in a bar setting. It’s something that maybe by that time– people are sick of Doc, Eddie, and Pierre, maybe people would like a different take, maybe people want another option, and– like me– maybe people cut the cord and have a crappy antenna and live in the middle of nowhere so they can’t get local channels unless they get YouTube TV….or something.

Yet, what better way to create a buzz for your broadcast than to have different viewing options for the biggest games?? Sportsnet has like 190 different channels that they could do the same thing with different people. There’s plenty of talking heads that can be there to fill the void of the dead spaces, so what’s the issue with having an alternative to the original?? Some people may like the traditional way better, whereas you could hook some new people onto the alternate voices, as well. Variety can be good and having options is great, too. Couldn’t hurt to try.