Are the Admirals Going Down With the Ship in Norfolk??

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It’s never good when a NHL team terminates an affiliation with an ECHL franchise. It’s even worse and weirder when it happens two months into the season. However, that’s what the Nashville Predators did when they terminated their affiliation with the Norfolk Admirals on Tuesday only six months into their affiliation.

This move is in a long line of troubling happenings for the Admirals– first was firing their long-time broadcaster because they didn’t want to have a radio feed for their games. The second happened two weeks ago when they fired their president, Mike Santos, who was reportedly the only person in the management position with any kind of hockey executive experience (it’s also a rumored reason why the affiliation was terminated). Also, the Admirals have drawn nothing in terms attendance this season, with one game reportedly having only 545 in attendance while, as a whole– they have only filled 22.8% capacity of The Scope this season.

While the owners of the team say that the team is not going to move and will finish out the ECHL season– should the team fold up, they would be the first team since the 2013-14 San Francisco Bulls to disband mid-season– as the Bulls had to fold up shop 40 games into the season.

It’s hard to believe that the team is spinning this as a good decision and one in the right direction. Since the team has been bought, they have been terrible and you can pin most of that on the ownership group– who is not in the vicinity of Norfolk. They ownership also went so far as suing the previous ownership saying they were misled when buying the team. Hard to feel sorry for a group who failed to do due diligence or doesn’t know how to run a sports organization overall.

The sad part of this is that Norfolk and the Hampton Roads area has always been a staple of minor league hockey. The Admirals were a founding member of the ECHL and were a force to be reckoned with in winning three Kelly Cups in 1991, 1992, and 1998. They moved up to the AHL when the Chicago Blackhawks saw value in their area as being good for development and solid placement for them.

Yet, things made a turn later on when the Blackhawks moved their affiliate closer to them in Rockford– Norfolk would then affiliate with the Tampa Bay Lightning– which brought them the Calder Cup in 2012, then to the Anaheim Ducks for a few season before the Ducks bought the team in 2015. That move was only to leverage it a move to San Diego for the Ducks and Edmonton turning Norfolk into the ECHL affiliate again. The fans there probably took this as a slap in the face and would rather have nothing at all than to watch the ECHL– which is understandable. Couple that with ownership issues and lack of talent brought into the team; people are revolting at a rapid pace.

Power Play 1, which is a part of Chesnut Holdings, which bought the team from the Edmonton Oilers is now responsible for the whole ordeal and really making it a shell of its former self. While they lauded former owner Ken Young, they also seemed to blame him for trying to have one staff work with two teams— which may or may not have led to the demise of the team or the team being overlooked. That said, at least the owner was familiar with the market and not someone who is coming from the outside trying to do something in New York that may not work in Norfolk.

The move to bring in the Predators seemed to have things moving in the right direction and it seemed that the ownership may have turned a corner in gaining trust. Boy, was that wrong. While the fans deserve better– them not showing up or supporting the team isn’t going to help them stay or move up in the ranks. Of course, it’s hard to support a team that is making you feel like you’re wasting money going out to see them. It’s quite the dilemma that they have in Norfolk and one you hope doesn’t lead to a team disbanding– but seems to be going in that direction overall.

One has to wonder if or when the ECHL will step in to work this out. While the fans may not like being moved down, the fact the ECHL is a better brand than when the original Admirals started in 1989 seemed to be missed around those parts. If people gave it a chance and not worried too much about labels of the league– the market could be better off. That, or get some owners or executives in there that actually know the market they are putting a team at.

EDIT: As noted by the comments, the Admirals in the ECHL at the start wasn’t original and they won two Riley Cups and one Kelly Cup.

The Latest “NHL 100” List Could Be The Most Even

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As I woke up today, I saw a tweet about a new list that NHL is doing for their NHL100– the Greatest NHL Uniforms.

My first thought was that somehow, someway– the final will be the Blackhawks and the Canadiens because that seems to be the way these jersey rankings often go.

My main thought after that was– what the hell with all the lists, NHL?? Especially in this fan voting format– which you hated enough to limit the way they can destroy the NHL All-Star Game.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically the same kind of randomizer that the NHL used when they did their preliminary “Greatest NHL Team” gimmick over the summer. They put two jerseys of a certain era against each other and you pick between the two. I’m sure they’ll weed them out and get down to 32 or so picks for the start of the final play-downs for who has the best jerseys.

Yet, my problem with it all is that it’s yet another subjective list the NHL is putting out there to get people “talking” (more like raging) when the final two are announced. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that Anaheim’s Wild Wing or LA’s Burger King jerseys made the cut because they were alternate jerseys, but Vancouver’s Flying V did make it in there– so rejoice for that.

In a time where the NHL could have done the leg work with their brain-trust and said, “Here’s the the top-ten greatest (teams, players, jerseys, stick models) in NHL History” and then spark debate after that. Hell, you’d have more than enough buzz from people making up their own top-ten list to warrant being very direct with their choices– because that’s what the NHL’s all about, right?? Getting people to engage and start a discussion?? No?? Okay…

However, a debate about which is the top jersey in history could be the thing that is the most talked about in all these lists. The eras don’t matter when it comes to jerseys– as they would with crowning a top player, moment, or team. It’s all about the aesthetic of it all and whether it’s pleasing to a person’s eye against another jersey. The record of the team doesn’t matter– though the longevity or lack thereof could spark some kind of love or hatred for a team. The want for a jersey to come back, as we’ve seen with some of the modernized retro jerseys and when teams do a one-night only jersey gimmick, is a huge marketplace for people.

While I hate the list idea to pick something out, the Greatest NHL Jersey list could be the one that is the most even across the board that the NHL has put out in their NHL 100 celebration.

Are The Jets Really This Good??

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As it stands right now, the Winnipeg Jets sit second in the Central Division and second in the Western Conference overall with a 15-6-3 record. After years of just hanging on in the Central, they seem to be breaking out of their shell and finally reaching their potential that many have said that they could have.

But are they really this good?? My buddy Brian told me on Twitter last night that he wasn’t buying into the hype and the main reason is Paul Maurice. I gave a counter of their goaltending being as unusual as it is– especially since they went out and got Steve Mason as a free agent this summer. While the Maurice thing is a valid point, the owners are looking like geniuses locking up the head coach Maurice and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to multi-year extensions.

Whatever the reason for hesitation to this success, the numbers aren’t hurting the success. Mark Scheifele has grown a long way from wearing a generic jersey at the 2011 NHL Draft to one of the faces of the team and being tied for the team lead in scoring and being tied for 10th in league scoring. The guy who he’s tied with, Blake Wheeler, has a great story of redemption– going from a first-round pick, hitting free agency rather than signing with his drafted team, never finding his footing with the team he signed with, to finally hitting a stride with Winnipeg over the past couple seasons.

And we haven’t even talked about Patrik Laine, who is a on a bit of a sophomore slump, or Nikolaj Ehlers or Bryan Little– who all have the ability to be primary or secondary scorers for this team.

In my point of contention, the goaltending is something that has never been too much of a strong point from Winnipeg. With Ondrej Pavelec leaving, it could have been a spot to get a big name to help get the team over that hump….and they got Steve Mason. And Mason was Mason in the first couple games (0-3-1 in four games). Luckily, Connor Hellebuyck has been a savior for this team with a 13-2-2 record on the season. How long that will last is anyone’s guess– but keep riding the wave of winning until it burst and work it from there.

Defensively, if the top guys can be healthy– they’ll be sturdy there. Tyler Myers is back and contributing in a decent way, Dustin Byfuglien is who he is, and Jacob Trouba could be doing more– but has been fine in his season so far.

Overall– it’s all about how long Hellebuyck can keep his good times rolling and adapts when people figure him out, as well as if guys like Scheifele and Wheeler can stay with their better than point-per-game clip. Add that to the secondary scoring and defensive side getting better offensively– this team could be a consistent force this season moving ahead.

Welcome to Boeser Club

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I’ll be the first to say I’m not the biggest Vancouver Canucks fan. I don’t know why, but for some reason, I could never really get into the team for one reason or another and some of their fan base– like most fan bases– are vocally annoying. Yet, there’s one thing that may bring me back to the team…and I’m sure by the title of the post, you’ve figured it out.

It’s Brock Boeser.

Having seen Boeser play at the University of North Dakota, it’s easy to see why this kid is gaining so many fans. He’s got decent speed, his shot is up there with some the NHL’s best, and he’s got some pretty decent hands. While he’s an American on a Canadian team, the NHL can’t really properly market him to the US audience because their marketing team is seemingly inept at that kind of thing.

However, I will say that once Boeser left the University of North Dakota following the double-OT loss to Boston in the NCAA first round,  I thought it was a mistake. Boeser was hampered with a wrist injury that limited him to only 32 games and when he came back, he didn’t seem like the dominant force he was before the injury. Boeser would pass up scoring attempts, double clutch on power play opportunities, and looked like he wasn’t comfortable.

I’m man enough to look back and say I was wrong. With 11 goals in 21 games this season– nine of those since November 1st– Boeser has gotten that swagger back in a big way. After four goals in his first nine games at the end of last season, Boeser and his new head coach Travis Green had a discussion after developmental camp which seems to have triggered this scoring onslaught at the end of November.

The rookie race in the NHL through the first two months is anyone’s race. While Clayton Keller and Boeser do have the headlines for their play, you can’t count out Matthew Barzal in Brooklyn, Will Butcher in New Jersey, and Alex DeBrincat in Chicago still waiting for their big major press clippings– there’s plenty of time for any rookie to make their case. That said, I’m all on-board with Boeser if only due to personal interactions at UND.

Not only that– but as the wrestling geek that I am, it’s easy for anyone to play the advocate role for their new favorite client BRRRRROOOOOCCCKKKK BOESER (though UND SID Jayson Hajdu was real advocate those two years at North Dakota). That said, I’ve gone a different route– a little bit of a hotter route for this gimmick. It’s a gimmick that’s almost too sweet to pass up. Therefore, I pitch that those who are on the Brock Boeser bandwagon join up with the Boeser Club.

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Quick and Dirty Sketch by Me

And who knows, once I clean up the logo enough– it’ll be time for them to announce the Calder Winner, BRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOCCCCKKKKK BOESER.

Minor League Monday: Marlies Rolling, Herbert Streak Snapped, Sholl Leading Thunderbolts

AHL

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Photo by Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com

-With seven-straight wins, the Toronto Marlies are again atop the AHL in points, which should be no surprise. The past few years, the Marlies have been the favorites as the season went on, though they have no Calder Cup to show for it…yet. Andreas Johnsson has led the way for the Marlies with 17 points on the year, which includes his current seven-game point streak (4g, 5a). Garret Sparks has dazzled in net with a 1.50 GAA to go with his ten wins on the season.

-The team chasing the Marlies for league supremacy is the Manitoba Moose. After finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference their first two years back in the AHL, the Moose have been quite a surprise this year with their young stars finally getting the hang of playing in the pros. Both second-year pros Jack Roslovic (11g, 11a) and Brendan Lemieux (5g 6a) are better than a point per game– 1.05 and 1.10 respectively– while veteran Mike Sgarbossa (8g, 12a) and Buddy Robinson (7g, 7a) have provided solid secondary scoring. A bigger surprise is the bouncing back of Eric Comrie (8-4-1) who has been solid in net for the Moose with a 2.30 GAA and .927 save percentage in 13 games.

ECHL

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-A round of applause to Caleb Herbert, who finally had his 17-game point-streak snapped on Friday night. The Swamp Rabbits’ forward had 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points during the streak that began since the beginning of the season. Herbert, unsurprisingly, leads the ECHL in points, with teammate Allan McPherson two points behind him before a trio of Wheeling Nailers pop up– Cody Wydo, Reid Gardiner, and Garrett Meurs.

-With points in seven of their last ten, the Colorado Eagles are making the most of their last season in the ECHL in their title-defense season. Michael Joly is leading the way in the ECHL in goals with 13 and has only one of his 16 games has been held pointless. Matt Register has helped out on the back-end quarterbacking the power-play and holding down play in his own end. All the while, Joe Cannata has been a near-perfect 7-0-1 on the year since being placed in Colorado by the Avalanche from San Antonio.

SPHL

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-Quietly, the Evansville Thunderbolts are having a great sophomore season in the SPHL. The play of Tomas Sholl since he came from Macon, he’s been solid with a 4-1-0 record with a 2.00 GAA in Evansville. Justin MacDonald is leading the league in goals with nine, while MacDonald, along with Dylan Clarke and John Scorcia are point-per-game players. The Thunderbolts also boast a great road record with points in six of their eight road game on the season (5-2-1). With one more road win, Evansville will match their entire road win output from last season.

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Salvage Tie After Shaky Third Period Start

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Photo from @UNDMhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Despite a shaky 22-seconds in the third, the University of North Dakota was able to salvage a tie against Union College in the second game of the 2017 Subway Holiday Classic with a final of 2-2.

UND tried to get a little boost from former UND player Zach Parise, who visited the area as he recovers from back surgery for the ceremonial face-off. After the regular face-off, UND got off to a quick start, which was quite the difference from the Friday night’s game. The Hawks struck first, as defenseman Colton Poolman came on for a line-change and received a feed from Ludvig Hoff, danced around a Union defender and roofed it over Jake Kupsky’s glove to make it 1-0. Union tried to get the equalizer, but Peter Thome stopped all of the Dutchmen’s nine shots in the period to keep it 1-0 UND after 20.

“Lot better than last night’s game,” UND head coach Brad Berry stated post-game. “We had emotion, we had energy, we started the game the right way. That’s a great team over there– they were hard and heavy and didn’t give a lot of space.”

“We came out like we should have Friday night,” said Poolman. “Give them credit, they came back with another hard heavy game. That’s that way we got to play.”

Not much to write home about in the second period. Both UND and Union traded power plays that yielded nothing, though the line of Cole Smith, Johnny Simonson, and defense-turned-forward Josh Rieger gave a bit of a boost with some solid forechecking creating some chances for the Fighting Hawks.

Union got off to a quick start less with two goals 22 seconds apart to open the third frame. First, Brett Supinski crossed-up Peter Thome off a feed from Sebastian Vidmar. Then, Cole Maier got his shot blocked twice with the third trickling through to the stick of Ryan Scarfo to make it 2-1 Union less than three minutes into the third. While Union kept getting chances, Thome was equal to the task. After a Cole Smith penalty, UND had a three-on-two rush started by Poolman with pass across to Rhett Gardner who put a shot on Kupsky, who let up a big rebound right to Shane Gersich’s stick to tie it for UND with 3:18 left in the third. The final 3:18 solved nothing, which pushed it to overtime.

Decent chances for UND and Union in overtime with the most interesting being Anthony Rinaldi getting a bit of a breakaway, then checked down by Gabe Bast, running into Thome– which led to Thome losing his skate blade on the post when colliding with it. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, putting UND at 8-4-4 on the season.

“Obviously, you want to win for a lot of different reasons– Pairwise and all of that,” said Berry, “But I think we learned a lot. We don’t hang our hat on who’s in the line-up and who’s out of the line-up or hang an excuse on that. We did a job tonight. We will move forward and learn from it.”

“Yesterday was a bad start and signaled the whole game,” mentioned Gersich. “Tonight, Colton (Poolman) scored right away to set the tone for us. We’ve got to come out mentally ready at the start of every game and that sets out the rest of the game for us.”

UND will close out the first half of their home schedule next weekend against Western Michigan at the Ralph Engelstad Arena before going on the road to St. Cloud to end the first half.

UND HOCKEY: Slow First Period Sinks Hawks 4-1 Against Union

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Photo from @UNDMhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– Another slow first period start for the University of North Dakota doomed them to start the 2017 Subway Holiday Classic, as the Fighting Hawks dropped the first game of the weekend to the Union Dutchmen 4-1 in front of 11,087 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Union opened the scoring ten minutes in after sustained pressure through the first part of the first period. Then, Ryan Walker tipped in a Brandon Estes shot to make it 1-0. Union also rang two shots off of Peter Thome’s glove side post early on. During their first power play of the game, Peter Thome wandered too far from the net trying to clear and turned it over, which lead to a Sebastian Vidmar goal. UND had one power play thanks to a Anthony Rinaldi penalty, but it only yielded one chance off a Grant Mismash rebound, but Connor Light cleared the puck out of danger.

“That’s our struggle the first part of the year is getting out of the gates,” captain Austin Poganski said post-game. “The game we have losses here, we’ve been chasing the other team. That’s not a good way to play hockey. For the rest of the year, especially tomorrow, we got to figure out how to get out of the gates right away and play with the lead for once.”

“Horrible,” defenseman Christian Wolanin said of the team’s first period. “Going through the motions. Waiting for things to happen. Not North Dakota hockey.”

North Dakota pushed the play in the first half of the second, but couldn’t beat Jake Kupsky or his posts. Kupsky, a Sharks draft pick, was 1-5-0 coming into the game after a rough start to Union’s season. Things got chippy as Ryan Walker covered a loose puck, which got him a delay of game call and UND’s Cole Smith and Sebastian Vidmar coincidental roughing calls. UND didn’t capitalize with the second ending with UND up on shots, but not on goals.

Three minutes into the third, UND broke through after Christian Wolanin potted his fifth of the year off a Matt Kiersted shot that Kupsky kicked back to the open area. A minute later, however, Union regained the two-goal lead with Vas Kolias being sent in on a breakaway by Ryan Walker to make it 3-1 Union. Both sides battled back, none really getting any major opportunities, less one Rhett Gardner shorthanded break that Kupsky stopped. Brendan Taylor added an empty net to seal a 4-1 victory for the Dutchmen.

Kupsky’s 37 saves on the night was the second highest total of the season, with only his 39-save performance against Boston University on the first game of the year topping it.

However, the story is the lack of punch in the first period for UND. The Hawks have only led four times after the first period in their 15 games this season– twice against St. Lawrence, once against Minnesota, and once against Colorado College. The problem solving for this amongst the players continues to be unsolved.

“That’s the frustrating part,” said Wolanin. “The coaches can only say so much and we can only say so much in the locker room, it’s a matter of doing it. We say it back-to-back-to-back-to-back weeks and we still go out and do the same thing in the first period. It’s just a mindset.”

“I’ll take a lot of responsibility for not getting the guys going,” mentioned Poganski. “At the end of the day we have to get some of our older guys and even our younger guys….I don’t know what it is. I think that’s what we’re looking for right now how to get things going right away. We’re working through that process. It’s taking longer than we hoped, but I think we’ll find it in the next few games and we’ll be fine.”

UND looks to make it a split at home against Union at the Ralph again at 7:07.

Minor League Monday: Baby Pens Rolling, Pat Nagle’s Dominance, RiverKings Looking For Crown

AHL

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-It’s about time to talk about the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. With only one shootout loss in their last 11 games, the Baby Pens are the class of the AHL so far this year. The interesting part is that there’s not one Penguin in the top-20 in scoring. That said, Daniel Sprong has been great this season with nine goals in 14 games. After major shoulder surgery kept him out most of last season, his first full pro campaign has been off to a good start. Casey DeSmith has also been a great find for the Penguins, going 8-0-1 this season and in the top-five in GAA and save percentage.

-The Chicago Wolves are feeling the expansion crunch. While they have some players still from the St. Louis Blues, the Wolves do have the majority of Vegas Golden Knights prospects– though they are not the top of prospects. Sure, it doesn’t help that both goalies were plucked from Chicago to get into Vegas and they had to scramble to get Kasimir Kaskisuo from Toronto to make sure they had someone to play. The play of quadruple-A player Teemu Pulkkinen has been one of the small bright spots, but unless Maxime Legace or Oscar Dansk come back soon– it could be a huge uphill climb from the basement for the Wolves.

ECHL

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-Pat Nagle is continuing his solid play in the ECHL, but this time it’s with the Toledo Walleye. After signing with the Grand Rapids Griffins this summer, Nagle was assigned to Toledo and since then, hasn’t lost in regulation. With a 10-0-2 record to start the season, Nagle is filling the void that was left when Jake Paterson was not given a qualifying offer. It’s hard to say that Nagle hasn’t been the top ECHL goalie over the past four years, as he is 93-29-17-4 since the start of the 2014-15 season, which includes playoffs.

-In a very top-heavy South Division, the South Carolina Stingrays are possibly the underappreciated team of the top-four. With points in eight of their last 10, the Stingrays have gotten it done in every way possible. The return of Jeff Jakaitis hasn’t been as great as his record shows, while having him post a 5-1-1 record, his GAA and save percentage are among the worst in the league (3.13/.884). However, Steven Whitney and Nick Johnson has created the goals with six a piece, while Joe Devin and Kelly Zajac have provided the set-ups.

SPHL

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-Quietly, the Mississippi RiverKings are putting together a great start to their season. Tied for first in the league, the 7-2-0 RiverKings have gotten contribute from all-around, especially from the newcomer Donald Olivieri, who has three goals in his three games with Mississippi. Both Devin Mantha and Derek Sutliffe lead the team with four goals a piece, while Tyler Green is 5-1-0 and tied for wins in the league.

TEPID TAKE: Hey, Look– Another Blackhawks Outdoor Game

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For Christ’s sake, the Blackhawks and Bruins playing in an outdoor game again??

Alright, well– I guess. Sure, the iconic situation of it being playing at Notre Dame Stadium ticks off another box that the NHL wanted to do in order to have complete world domination of the iconic non-hockey venues to host a hockey game and yes– you almost have to have the Blackhawks because of the proximity, but good lord do we have to keep having the same teams play over and again??

I don’t think that the Winter Classic was designed to have all the NHL teams play in it because if it’s a premier event, the NHL wants to put teams in it who will have a big ratings and attendance. That said, you need to have some sort of sight of what they does for the ratings overall. It’s the same argument made for having the same teams play on NBCSN all the time– people get sick of seeing it and with a gimmick that’s already been beaten to death with teams who have played more than their fair share– this can’t be that great for business.

Face Off Hockey Show had Greg Wyshynski on the show this past week and we asked him the future of these kind of NHL events, to which he said he’d like to see more neutral site games being played between teams to bring more fans in that wouldn’t necessarily see these teams unless they had a trip to do so.

Maybe this is the first step to get more out into neutral site games, but in all honesty– the teams that are in it sour the whole thing. Less of Boston because the Bruins don’t seem to be in these games all too much, but they are overexposed in the national TV side because they do have a big fanbase– not something to hate on, but it’s annoying.

But people will watch, the NHL will very much hype it up, and it will be some kind of success when all is said and done in spite of the teams that are playing in it and the disdain many people have for them.

The Need for More Rivalry Trophies in Hockey

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Photo via Orlando Solar Bears

You want to really get people into a rivalry?? If you’re the NHL, you put those rivalries on Wednesday nights because that’s when people are watching hockey and that’s when every Wednesday game is a potential rivalry even when it’s not. Yet, shockingly, it can get stale and people will grow tired of it. So– how to do you spice up a rivalry??

Give it a trophy. Give it some meaning for teams meeting over and over again.

That’s why when I see something about the Wawa Sunshine Cup, I’m intrigued and wonder why more minor league teams don’t do that. The Wawa Sunshine Cup is a trophy that battled between the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears and Florida Everblades with the team who has the most standing points earned in head-to-head match-ups being the victor of it and maybe getting a sweet Built-To-Order hoagies with it. It gives some pride and meaning to playing a team around 14 times a season and make it worthwhile rather than stale. You have to wonder when they’ll include the Jacksonville IceMen to their party, but whatever.

The point is that, especially in minor league hockey where teams are facing off against each other a lot and with my whole plan of regional leagues under a big league umbrella, maybe to make things not get so dull– throw some kind of arbitrary trophy in there to make things a little more fresh in the world of hockey. I doubt this would work on the NHL level because that’s all too corporate; but the minor leagues are ripe for this stuff.

In the NCAA, hockey has plenty of rivalry trophies– like the North Star College Cup between the Minnesota D1 schools, the Holy War on Ice of Notre Dame and Boston College for the Smith-Kelley Memorial Trophy, the Battle for the Gold Pan between Denver and Colorado College, and the Beanpot, which combines the Boston colleges. Of course, college sports have a lot of tradition with gimmick trophies– as we’ve seen in the football side of things with their rivalry trophies.

(Shockingly, I’m a fan of the Crabpot Tournament because of my bias, but what can you do??)

Yet in this new era of minor league hockey where some people drone on and on about seeing the same teams over and again– why not do something like the Wawa Sunshine Cup?? Hell, the California teams in the AHL could do a lot more than not play the same amount of games as everyone else in the league and get some sponsorship for a trophy. The Texas AHL teams, all the teams cropping up in the Northeast in the ECHL could have something, the teams in the Midwest AHL or ECHL– the sky is the limit, so long as you can sell it to the sponsors.

Granted, the game today is really more about in-arena entertainment as it is the game itself, this could be a nice cross-section of branding for the company sponsoring the rivalry trophy and actually will get people into a match-up they’ve seen for the ninth time in the season. It doesn’t take much to make something like this happen, especially when it comes to bringing people into the hockey domain and really promote the brand they are trying to push. Sure, they may have the audience in the stands already– but it will also make them brand loyal when they have a choice of things. I’m sure people will hit up the Wawa more often than other convenience stores because it’s Wawa and it’s awesome, but more importantly– because they support Solar Bears or Everblades hockey. That’s the kind of advertising that’s easy and may have a lasting affect on people’s purchasing choices.