Carolina on My Mind
Posted By: Aaron Sims
Obviously, the courtship of Kirk Muller started before this past weekend in Charlotte.
However, the move happened rather quickly.
Here’s my view of what went down.
Milwaukee played well Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Checkers. Sunday’s game was a different story. The Admirals played a very poor first period en route to a 5-1 loss.
After the game, I packed up my equipment and got on the bus. I was alone on the bus about 20 minutes. The team always eats a postgame meal at the arena when we’re on the road, so nobody else was there. Assistant coach Ian Herbers was the next person on the bus. He and I were alone for about 10 minutes and we chatted about the game.
The team started to trickle out along with Muller. Kirk stayed in the parking lot to talk on the phone with someone. That is a common occurrence, so there was no red flag.
We finally headed to the airport and through security. When we got to the gate, Kirk was on the phone again. He was trying to find a private place to talk. Again, that’s not a big deal.
Herbers came up to me after a while and asked if Kirk was going to be on the next night’s Milwaukee Admirals Center Ice radio show. I told Ian I hadn’t asked but it was the plan. Ian said he would do it. I told him I appreciated that but Kirk hadn’t been on in a while. Ian reiterated he was doing the show because, in Ian’s dry humor, “Kirk doesn’t like you guys.” I laughed. Still, I thought Kirk should be on the show, so I was going to talk to him. Alas, he was still on the phone.
He was on the phone nearly four hours while we waited to board the plane back to Chicago.
After we landed at O’Hare, I spotted Kirk standing outside the bus. I approached him and he said to me, “Tough game, huh?” We spoke briefly about what was bad and what he liked from the game. By then, everyone else had boarded the bus. I didn’t get the chance to ask him about the show. I decided I would let it go.
As we travelled back to Milwaukee, there were some hushed conversations at the front of the bus. When we arrived at the stop, Kirk stood up and said, “Meeting at 10:45 tomorrow. We’re on the ice at noon.” Then, Doug Agnew shook Kirk’s hand.
The team found out the next morning when some saw the “rumor” on Twitter. When they arrived at the Bradley Center, Ian told them what happened and stressed the reason the players and coaches are in Milwaukee is to make it to the NHL. This was Muller’s chance.
I knew something was up fairly early in the process. When he was on the phone as long as he was, I knew he was gone. When Ian was adamant he was doing the radio show, it cemented my feeling. I just didn’t know the team. We had heard Washington was making a change, so I thought the Dale Hunter rumor was just that, a rumor, and Kirk was getting the job. It was Monday morning we found out it was Carolina.
My only problem with the situation is I didn’t get to work with Kirk longer. He was a fun and interesting guy to talk to. I wish him all the best in Raleigh. I think that’s the belief of everyone on the team.
Life is about opportunities and making the most of them. Muller is getting that chance in the NHL. Ian is getting that chance now in Milwaukee. Both will be successful.
Kelly told me Shore made the team take dancing lessons. When the players were away from the rink, it was a mandate for them to walk with long strides and shifting their weight back and forth as if they were skating. Kelly said if they saw Shore on the street they quickly started moving as if they were chasing a puck for fear of punishment. If a player wasn’t in the lineup that night, he was putting extra salt on the popcorn and peanuts so Shore could make more money selling beer in his arena.
He told me several stories of all-out brawls. Hockey was really a Wild West show back then.
Yablonski’s time in Russia started in an interesting fashion at a wedding when he fought
teammate Jon Mirasty
. I mentioned this video to Admirals forward Brodie Dupont, who told me Mirasty and Yablonski are cousins. Sure enough, it turns out they are, indeed, distant cousins.