“Now the stage is bare, and I’m standing there, with emptiness all around.” – Elvis Presley…“Are You Lonesome Tonight”
I can imagine Hershey GM Doug Yingst standing on the center ice dot with a loose tie and an empty bottle of champagne as the lights are turned off at Giant Center.
The 74th AHL season came to a close as the Hershey Bears, once again, lifted the Calder Cup. The Bears won its 11th Calder Cup and became the first back-to-back champion of the AHL since the Springfield Indians accomplished the feat in 1991. Can Hershey make it three in a row?
One of the amazing things about the Bears is the roster stability the team has enjoyed. In fact, a look at the final roster heading into the playoffs shows only five players (not counting rookies that recently joined the team) spent last season with a different AHL club. That’s almost unbelievable when you consider the small number of veterans that can play. The AHL is still a developmental league and teams can play just six players that have played more than 260 professional games. Players that are in their fourth year are almost too old to find a job in the league. Hershey’s been able to get it done.
The league will celebrate its 75th anniversary this fall. All 30 NHL teams are affiliated with an AHL team. Charlotte and Oklahoma City are joining the league. Lowell moved its operation to Albany after the former Albany team moved to Charlotte.
Calgary has not yet moved its affiliate this offseason (just kidding).
There’s a lot to look forward to this summer. Players are leaving for Europe or Russia. They’re also arriving from Europe or Russia. The Admirals should have several new faces next season, many from overseas. The NHL Entry Draft is June 25th.
The 75th season is upon us. The last team to win three Calder Cups in a row was Springfield in 1960, ’61 & ’62. Here’s hoping Hershey doesn’t make it.
The Admirals hosted Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals against Hershey on June 15, 2006. That is the latest a game has been played in the history of the AHL.
Peoria hired former Abbotsford assistant Jared Bednar as head coach. Bednar was the head coach of ECHL South Carolina when that team won the 2009 Kelly Cup. As a player, the rugged defenseman posted 220 PIM with Grand Rapids in the 1998-99 season.
My friend, Rob Hernandez, does a great job covering prep sports in Madison at the Wisconsin State Journal. He posted an interesting interview/story about the future of the WIAA Tournament.
Madison’s Adam Burish became the sixth Wisconsin-born player to be a member of a Stanley Cup Championship team when the Blackhawks beat the Flyers Wednesday night. The others: Appleton’s Roger Jenkins (Chicago 1934, 1938); Rhinelander’s Craig Ludwig (Montreal 1986, Dallas 1999); Beaver Dam-born Dave Maley (Montreal 1986); Madison’s Gary Suter (Calgary 1989) and Madison’s (and former Admirals forward) Kevin Dean (New Jersey 1995).
I leave you with Jim Conacher. He wasn’t a member of the famed Conacher family that included Lionel, Ray, and Hawks' manager, Charlie, but was still pretty good. He played for the Milwaukee Sea Gulls in the 1950-51 season.