REPORT: ECHL Tabs St. John’s as Latest Market


According to David Salter, the former Director of Communications for the St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL, there’s going to be an ECHL team coming to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in the near future. Salter said that a source from outside the area was the one who told him that it will be happening. Salter also stated that the franchise will be affiliated with the Montreal Canadiens, while trying to use the IceCaps name.

Of course, this brings up a host of other questions. With the Canadiens going to this new St. John’s team, who would the Brampton Beast turn to in order to be an affiliate?? There are two options– one of which being the Toronto Maple Leafs– who have the Marlies feet away from their doorstep, why not have their ECHL team there rather than in Orlando?? Of course, Orlando runs a nice little ship there and the Leafs may like that a little better. The other option is the Ottawa Senators, who moved their AHL team to Belleville, which is two hours west of Brampton. Currently, the Senators are without an ECHL affiliate and it would make sense to keep the teams in Ontario if you’re going to go that route.

Another question is what to do with travel. Even with the Northeast expansion, St. John’s would be 1,200 miles away from their nearest rival in Portland, which is something I wrote about a month ago when this idea first started to get legs. According to Salter, Dean MacDonald is in fact the man who will own the team, so you can bet that he or his group will have to find a way to off-set costs for teams to travel there. It would most likey follow the Alaska Aces method of having three-game weekend sets up there and then they tour around the Northeast and what-have-you.

While nothing has been set in stone, the fact that sources outside of the local area are reporting it should give it plenty of legs to make it happen. The domino effect could be something that could become very interesting down the line, especially for teams who are already involved with ECHL franchises and the possibility for flipping affiliations.

Selling Out For the Celebration


Photo via @CanadiensMTL

With the NHL 100 game behind us and the uniforms really looking more like the next 100 years for the NHL (in the terms of aesthetics), it makes me wonder if there’s more that could have been done for the game and celebration.

It was an odd outdoor game situation– the alumni game was a split-squad for the Senators, the game itself was surrounded by things Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in regards to moving the team, and there wasn’t too much hype for it until a couple days before the game (at least in my eyes).

Yet, through throwing out stuff on Twitter— mostly in jest– I do wonder if there’s something that really could have made this NHL 100 situation a much more memorable experience. There’s only so much you can do with the players themselves because of their game schedule, practicing in the elements, and the health of the players in general. However, I think there’s something that could have been done a little better.

First, rather than a musical act (all due respect to Bryan Adams), they should have done a little musical play of that first season. Have actors out there in the older gear going around the rink as they would during the intermission segments in the real arena. It would be a great nod to the actual first season of the NHL, remembering the heritage of the game, as well as showing off those sweet duds of the 1917 era.

Second, they should have had more events surrounding the “Top 100” players in NHL history. The NHL made a whole to-do about this list and yet doesn’t seem like many of those players were able to come out. Sure, the modern guys were actually in-season, but you have to think there were more guys from the earlier eras available to do things for this weekend’s celebrations.

Sidebar: It seems really odd they would present the “Best Moment in the NHL History” thing during the game-play on the ice. Sure, they wanted to trot out either Mario Lemieux or Bobby Orr; but the players are already freezing out there and you have them standing around as this thing is going on?? A little silly when you could have done it during an intermission.

Third– recreate the first games. Again, either actors or beer-league players doing the first games of Canadiens vs. Senators and Wanderers vs. Arenas in one of the outdoor rinks Ottawa has around the area. Give them as much older gear as safely possible and just have a little fun with it. I’m sure those participating would have soaked it all in for a chance to “re-write” history and just to be apart of the celebration. One of the biggest things is that the NHL wants to be inclusive– so why not pull out all the stops to actually bring people into these big events when they happen??


Finally– the uniforms on ice. Like I said, it’s like they had a look of “Turning Ahead the Clock” like the MLB did in the mid-90s. For a game like this, you’d think that the NHL and Adidas would have really brought the Heritage idea back to this game like they tried to do with the Winter Classic. Whether that’s just a Winter Classic gimmick or not, I don’t know– but for a game of this magnitude, something should have been a little more throwback. They could have done like the 75th Anniversary season with the look (even down to the referees), but they went another route which– hey, their call.

I will give a tip of the hat to the NHL for doing what they’ve done to celebrate their 100 years, but in my head there’s a lot more that could have been done, especially with this game and the weekend around it. Whether it’s logistics of insurance or schedules or whatever– it didn’t happen. But at the end of the day, they did all they could in order to make this a thing that would leave a lasting memory for players and fans. Whether it did or not, only time will tell.

UND HOCKEY: Peski Ready For Bigger Role in Second Season



Life is tough for a freshman in college. Not just getting adjusted to living away from home, but learning to do your own laundry, Greek life becoming a thing, learning that ice cream is a good breakfast option and so on. But for a freshman college athlete, it’s all about earning your spot and being able to keep it. Just ask UND defenseman Andrew Peski about his freshman season last year.

“Coming to the NCAA is a big jump,” Peski told me during the UND Media Day. “You’re playing against full grown men and it took a little time to get used to the speed and strength that comes with it. But my teammates were there for me a lot. They told me to keep working and keep getting better, which helped a whole lot.

It showed in Peski’s performance. In and out of the line-up for the first half of the season, Peski became a regular in the line-up after the calendar turned to 2017. It also helped Peski as he was paired up with captain Gage Ausmus in that time to help him learn more about the college game.

Peski also played a big role in UND’s regional game last year, the two overtime thriller in Fargo that saw Boston University beat UND after many controversial calls on both sides of the puck, including an almost 15-minute offsides review that nullified the possible UND game-winning goal.

“That game is always in the back of our head,” said Peski. “I’ve watched the game a few times, but it’s a new year and a new us– we’re moving on. We want to get back to get back to that tournament and have a better outcome, especially since it’s in Sioux Falls (South Dakota) this year and we’ll have plenty of support.”

This year, UND will be without Ausmus, who graduated and is playing in the ECHL, while other top-defenseman statistically in Tucker Poolman left school early to sign his NHL contract. Peski is going to be given a bigger role on this team and knows that he’ll have to compete with the depth on this year’s team.

“I’m really excited to take on any roles I earn,” mentioned Peski. “And that’s it, right?? You get what you deserve. Our freshman class is very talented and we all want them to step in and get antiquated with the team.”

This summer also provided Peski the experience of an NHL developmental camp, as the Ottawa Senators brought Peski in as a free agent prospect to get a look at what he could do. The Orleans, Ontario (a suburb of Ottawa) native looked back at the experience with a new look on the pro game.

“Ottawa camp was an eye-opener for sure,” Peski said of his first camp. “It was an interesting kind of the atmosphere. There were a lot of similarities to what we get here at North Dakota, so I was very prepared for it. It was a great time and I learned a lot. It definitely helped with Christain Wolanin being there, as well as some Ottawa guys that I interacted with when I was younger.”

Peski also stated that the line for everyone across the board was to jump on things early and often.

“We don’t wait and get comfortable. We’re telling everyone, especially the new guys to do your best and make the right plays and it’ll come to you.”

Reducing Seating Smart for Sens


Good for the Ottawa Senators.

Going the way of many NASCAR tracks, the Senators are going to reduce seating by 1,500 to make their capacity just over 17,000. To be honest, there’s not much else they could do. They are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. They can either have people taking them to task for the empty seats or they can have people taking them to task for taking out the seats. They took the latter hoping that will make the arena look better.

While we’ve seen such a thing happen in Florida with the Panthers, the fact that it’s a Canadian team is why there’s so much guff. It’s not as if the Senators are THAT bad a hockey team, but much like Florida– their arena is way the hell and gone from the city center (or centre in this case), no one wants to make the trek out to the middle of nowhere to watch their team play. It’s amazing that the Washington Capitals had as many people come out to Landover when they played at the Capital Centre as they did because we see it doesn’t fly now.

Barring the move to downtown Ottawa that Eugene Melnyk wants, the Senators needed to do something because it does have a bad appearance to it when a playoff team, one goal away from being the Eastern Conference champions, can’t sell out their arena in Canada. And it’s a tactical move, too– by doing this, it’s showing the powers that be in Ottawa that they need to have this downtown arena they’ve been stumping for because if not– they’ll have to keep reducing the number of seats in the Canadian Tire Centre; which has a bad look on the city that they can’t support an NHL team despite the team being somewhat decent.

That said, if the Senators can’t get their stuff figured out attendance-wise, I have to wonder if they aren’t going to be put into the relocation discussion. It makes sense and they have the same problems that teams like the Coyotes, Hurricanes, and Islanders have faced, but it seems that because they’re in Canada– they get a bit of a pass. It would be something if the Sens were the first team to move only to move to Quebec City and have them really show up the Ottawa fans.

All in all, the move is odd– but I’m okay with them getting sick of the empty seats and saying the hell with it– here’s some tarps. This will either wake up the fans and have them rally around the team (or the team’s bid to get to downtown) or it’ll piss them off more and they become apathetic to the team’s plight.