As we bowl headlong into the last two weeks of the NHL’s off-season, it’s probably time for a quick news and notes update for the weekend. After the jump we’ll talk about the Flames new ECHL affiliate, the changing of guard in radio media and look at where some former Flames prospects have ended up.
THE ECHL SHUFFLE
The Calgary Flames will have a brand new ECHL affiliate for the 2013-14 season. Their previous affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies, announced last week a new partnership with the hated Anaheim Ducks, now a bitter divisional rival of the Flames. While the ECHL has hardly been a priming ground for high-end NHL talent, particularly for the Flames, who’ve developed such notables as Adam Pardy and Brennan Evans via the ECHL route, it’s useful for giving really raw players somewhere to work the kinks out. It also allows the team to make room for better players at the AHL level if there’s a traffic jam.
I’d expect the Flames to have an ECHL affiliation of some kind in place for the year, if only to give one of their three minor league goalies somewhere to play regular minutes. As of today, the Las Vegas Wranglers, Colorado Eagles, Alaska Aces and Fort Wayne Komets have no NHL parents. Calgary has previously partnered with Las Vegas, so maybe they’ll get that going again
THE RADIO BOOTH SHUFFLE
Things keep changing on the radio front for the Flames as well. Veteran colour man Mike Rogers retired a few weeks ago – and will be missed on the Fan 960’s broadcasts – although Hall of Famer Peter Maher will definitely return for yet another season behind the mic. No word on who’ll be replacing Rogers, although it definitely won’t be Andrew Walker, who’s off to Toronto to join the Fan 590.
On the AHL front, Ryan Pinder won’t be returning to the Abbotsford Heat play-by-play booth – though something tells me he won’t be a free agent for long, as Pinder’s very talented and has been great in his fill-in role on the Fan lately. However, the Heat have found another up-and-comer to fill Pinder’s shoes in Brandon Astle. Formerly of the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen, Astle will call every Heat game this year on a yet-to-be-announced radio platform (and also handle PR duties). Kent and I will begin sending him poorly-worded requests for farm team info shortly.
THE GOAL SONG
The Flames finally abandoned Duck Sauce’s “Barbra Streisand” as their goal song. Thank goodness. Now if they bring back “Shot Down In Flames,” we may have something to be happy about. As much as I hate over-playing classic rock in arenas, that AC/DC track was the best of all possible goal songs for this team.
Feel free to add your preference in the comments.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Mitch Wahl signed with EC Salzburg in Austria last week. He’s yet another farm team player to find a gig in Europe, presumably because he couldn’t garner much NHL interest. Since the season ended, Danny Taylor (Farjestad), Ben Walter (Orebro), Dustin Sylvester (Vienna) and Barry Brust (Zagreb) have found European employment. Leland Irving hasn’t solidified a gig for next year, European or otherwise. That’s a huge surprise given his rough season last year, frankly.
Tyler Ruegsegger, who I had hoped would sign an AHL deal with the Heat, instead signed with the Hershey Bears. He had 18 points in 67 games in a depth role last year in Abbotsford and looked pretty good in the games I saw.
Needless to say, the Heat will be a very different, very young team in 2013-14.
CAMPS GRADUALLY BEGIN
Things are starting to get rolling for junior teams, as the KHL has begun training camps and pre-season tournaments. I haven’t heard much regarding Rushan Rafikov, except I’ve been given the impression that he’ll be headed back to the junior league (MHL) and the Loco Yaroslavl club due to Yaroslavl Lokomotiv having too many established defensemen already on their roster.
Training camps have already begun in the QMJHL, while things start to get going in the OHL and WHL in the next seven-to-ten days. After that, Flames rookie camp opens on September 3, with the young stars rookie tournament slated to go form September 5 – 9.