Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Texas Coaching Connection

There's an Aeros post over at the mothership about the coaching staff and their connections to Houston and Texas, which I just found to be rather interesting since Houston and Texas aren't really considered to be hockey hot beds.

It's not as good as I was hoping it would be. I was just kind of rushed this weekend, and didn't have as much time to work on it as I wanted, and it just really doesn't work at least for me, but I hope you'll go read it anyway.

(And good news is, at least this time, I'm not pissing off the Aeros business office or any fans. I think.)

Remember, let them know you like this stuff as I'm going into heavy college football mode for the next several months and I will be lucky to get out a hockey story a week.

Meet Your 2010-11 Aeros: Maxim Noreau

MAXIM NOREAU

Born: May 24, 1987 (age 23)
Montreal, Quebec

5 ft 11
192 lbs
Defenseman
Shoots: Right

Career Transactions:
Signed multi-year contract with Minnesota on May 22, 2008…earned way onto the team after signing a PTO in 2007-08 and starting the season in Beaumont.

I’m going to be an old man, and I’m going to have this everlasting memory of Max Noreau. It was his rookie year with the Aeros in 2007-08. He was still trying to earn a contract with the Wild. But he was at that point where he was earning the trust of Kevin Constantine and his staff. As such, he was beginning to earn playing time at key points of the game. I don’t remember the game, but I do know the Aeros were in overtime. And the guy who scored the game-winning goal was Noreau.

But my memory is of interviewing him in the locker room after the game. There was this big smile on his face, and he eagerly, yet patiently answered our questions. That’s not the big deal as numerous players have done that. No, what I remember is showing up for the next game and finding out that Noreau had been playing that game with a broken foot.

In his three years with the Aeros, Noreau has become one of the team’s top clutch players, and he’s the key to the team’s power play. Noreau from the blue line on the power play is a very dangerous man, and over the years, he’s worked hard to improve all facets of his game. He made the AHL All-Star Game last year, and he earned a late season call-up to the Wild.

Noreau was the guy that Kevin Constantine pointed to when he was dealing with a youngster on his way back to the ECHL. Constantine would tell them to look at Noreau, an undrafted free agent who worked hard and made use of all his available talent to earn a NHL contract. I don’t know that much about new coach Mike Yeo, yet. But I’m sure of this, he’s going to like Max Noreau.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mark LeRose tabbed to lead Wichita Falls Hockey

The Wichita Falls Wildcats have a new head coach, and it's former Aeros Assistant Mark LeRose.


In case you lost track, the coaching staff from last year is now employed in three different countries.



Kevin Constanine will coach in France, Troy Ward is now an assistant in AHL Abbotsford, Canada, and LeRose, who only spent one year in Houston, is now a head guy in Wichita Falls.

Update on Danny Irmen

This is a pretty good read on what is new (or not new) with Danny Irmen. At the moment, Danny (the one in this great photo by Fred) is still out of contract and looking for an NHL deal.

I'm not quite sure if it is too late for him to try something in Europe, but something is bound to happen for him.

The Wild organization cut ties after last season. The team was not at all interested in bringing him back. Danny played four full years for the Aeros and spent a little time here in 05-06. He is one of those guys we'll miss because of his personality and sense of humor. Unfortunately, after his first full season here, he never did improve on that decent 37-point season.

He loves his Minnesota teams, and there were SEVERAL times when I would wear my Packers jacket to the game just to see what comments he would throw my way. I wish he and his wife and the new little one the best, and I hope we'll get to see him come to Toyota Center as an opponent down the line.

I have a new Packers hat, after all.

Friday, August 27, 2010

And Some Miscellaneous Items

As promised, here's my post in the mothership on the Aeros schedule and that very special home game in St. Paul. So go over there and vent a bit, if you feel like it.

And I hope to get my tape of yesterday's presser with Jim Mill and the coaching staff transcribed this weekend, so keep checking back here for some good stuff. I was a Kevin Constantine fan, but I really liked Mike Yeo's attitude yesterday.

One more thing: the roster is pretty much set for this season, but Jim Mill did say he hopes to get about 3-6 more guys signed, including one goalie. These guys would have the chance to make the club, but will more likely be with the Aeros new ECHL affiliate and come up here as needed based on Wild/Aeros injuries, call-ups, etc.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aeros Media Info

Just a few quick notes from today's press conference with GM Jim Mill and head coach Mike Yeo, and it actually involves info not dealing with them.

Joe O'Donnell announced that the team's radio home this season should again be 1070 KNTH. They're just trying to get a few details ironed out. And he's also hopeful of working out a deal with Fox Sports to broadcast select Aeros games again this season.

Andrew should be back later today with some more info.

And Kevin Constantine Goes To...

For any of you who were wondering about what former coach Kevin Constantine was going to be doing this hockey season, well, we have your answer. KC is off to France where he will be coaching a team there (sorry, the story is in French, but you should get the drift of it, or else try Google Translate.)

I thought KC was a great guy, and I hope he does well in France, and that he makes it back to our continent to coach again, soon. That said, KC does like to employ a defensive style of hockey, and we all know how the French are when it comes to defense.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Some Thoughts On The Aeros Schedule

First, let me say that I'll be addressing this more, in depth, on the mothership blog on Friday. But...

I've been reading your comments to Andrew's post, and over at the Aeros Facebook site and on twitter, and I wanted to add my own two cents. And a brief aside, these are my thoughts, my comments, and I'm writing this without the knowledge of Andrew or Heather, so don't hold anything against them.

You, my friends, are being screwed over. Especially if you're a season ticket holder. You purchased tickets for 40 games. But you're only going to get to see 39. It's good for the players to play a game on the Wild home ice in front of Wild fans, but it doesn't do too damn much for you. The Aeros/Wild have stated that you will receive a ticket for that game in St. Paul as part of your season ticket package. But what you won't be receiving are airline tickets or hotel vouchers. You also won't get a ticket to the Wild game that night. So you're more than welcome to spend even more of your cash to fly to St. Paul, get a hotel room, and make your way out to the arena for the Aeros game, just don't bother sticking around to watch the Wild.

They'll also let you exchange that ticket for a ticket to another Aeros home game. But think about that for a moment. You're still paying to see 40 games. You're still only getting to see 39 games. Just what does an extra ticket do for you?

I'm also not too pleased by the two weekday matinee games because I'm sure that most of you season ticket holders actually have jobs, so it's hard for you to get away during a weekday morning to see a hockey game. So what we're actually looking at is that lots of you will be paying for 40 games, but you'll only be seeing 37.

I'll sign off now -- remember, read the mothership on Friday -- but let's just say that I'm a bit pissed about this thing. It's good news for the players, but bad news for you.

2010-11 Aeros Schedule Highlights

Here is a link to the Aeros schedule for 2010-11.

My initial thought?
"Man, this is a brutal schedule ... "

Why?

13 times the Aeros play three games in three nights (vs. just seven last year), and 23 of their first 38 games are on the road. They have TWO five game road trips in the December and January and are playing the same number of games as a year ago in seven fewer calendar days.

But there is a rainbow at the end of this sucker.
If the Aeros are a half way decent road team this year, things could be very good for them.

They will not play one game outside Texas during the Month of March, their busiest of the season, and starting on Feb. 22, they will play just four road games of 18 total on the road until April 1.

This schedule will test them physically, but if they can hang in there until mid January, they have a very nice set up waiting for them.

Good luck, Mike Yeo ... and welcome to the Western Division.

Schedule Update ... Aeros to play one home game in MSP

The AHL schedule will come out later today, and there is one surprise on it indeed.
The Aeros will play one of their home games against the Peoria Rivermen at the Wild's home in St. Paul.
That game will take place on Feb. 12, 2011.

First Aeros home game there since 2005 when they beat the Grand Rapids Griffins behind two goals from Dan Cavanaugh. The Aeros lost to the Milwaukee Admirals in their only other game there.

Meet Your 2010-11 Aeros: Tyler Cuma

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Tyler Cuma
Born: January 19, 1990 (age 20)
Bowmanville, ON

6 ft 2 in
193 lb
Defense
Shoots Left

The Wild picked Cuma 23rd overall in the first round of the 2008 entry draft. He had an amazing training camp that season in Minnesota and even the most cynical Wild fans were absolutely swooning at his poise and maturity for a skinny 18 year old kid.

Statements like, "He was the best defenseman on the ice" weren't uncommon, and on top of that, he was a good talker to the media. Very mature, very focused. Bring that one home to mama.

But then the wheels fell off: He suffered a serious knee injury that December and missed most of the rest of the season. He came back last season, but seemingly didn't return to the previous year's dominance, coming up 10 points shy of his 2007-08 stats. Plus, he missed the World Junior championships both years (first for injury, then didn't make the final team cut in 2010). Wild fans seemed to collectively say, "Uh oh. What happened to Cuma?"

Nothing is wrong with Cuma. And from what I hear, even as a rookie, the Aeros would be lucky to have him on the roster. I would not expect him to put up much in the way of numbers for a while as he focuses on the defensive end of his craft at the pro level. But I anticipate a kid who is big and steady and smart with the puck pretty much right out of the gate.

Here's an interview that I'd say is Essential Reading if you want to know where Cuma's head is at (short answer: Squarely on his shoulders) as he heads into the season.

And any d-man who will defend a nasty run on his goalie is a d-man I can like:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meet your 2010-11 Aeros: Jarod Palmer

Photo by Scott Slingsby

Jarod Palmer

Born: February 10, 1986 (age 24)
Fridley, MN

6' 0", 195
Forward
Shoots: Right

The "new" Wild are putting an emphasis on signing undrafted college players to supplement their drafting efforts. Left wing Jarod Palmer is one of those picked up a few months ago.

Palmer graduated from Miami University (Ohio) or "Cold Miami" as I call it. I have yet to hear a single bad thing about that program. In fact, all I ever hear is glowing, positive things about the culture of their athletic programs. They seem to recruit and turn out high character humans pretty consistently.

He's a moderate scorer, but from what I understand, his contributions don't always show in his stats. He's a fierce competitor, gritty, tough, and durable. He's apparently a high energy guy who is a rock solid penalty killer, strong on the puck, and he can find the net (or find someone around the net) as he had 18 goals and more than a point per game to his name his senior year at Miami.

Why wasn't he drafted? Seems he was a little bit of a late bloomer and really found his game in college and made a name for himself his senior year.

Here's a good wrap-up on him from the boys over at Hockey Wilderness from back when the Wild picked him up.

There's one thing I know about the kid because I've seen it with my own eyes: He's a creative guy in the shootout. Here's a couple:



And no, that was no whiff. That was on purpose.



Then again, when both of your slick shootout goals on YouTube have that kick-puck-off-skate move, goalies around the league will figure you out pretty quick. But hey, at least he'll be fun to watch.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Meet Your 2010-11 Aeros: Joel Broda

Joel Broda
Born:
Nov 24 1989 (Age 20)
Prince Albert, SASK

Center
Height 6.00
Weight 203
Shoots Left

Broda just finished his 5th year in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen and had 73 points in 66 games. Not bad, right? But the Washington Captials, who drafted him in the 5th round of the 2008 draft, failed to sign him to an entry level deal last year and then he was passed over in this year's entry draft.

So, obviously there's something about him that teams aren't comfortable with. But the Wild have taken a chance on him with a 3 year deal that will almost certainly see him in Houston for a while.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Meet Your 2010-11 Aeros: Jean-Michel Daoust

JEAN-MICHEL DAOUST

Born: November 24, 1983 (age 26)
Valleyfield, QC

5 ft 07
154 lbs
Right Wing
Shoots: Right

Career Transactions:
Signed 1-year, 2-way contract with the Minnesota Wild for this season…played way onto the Aeros last season after signing a PTO…re-signed contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after the Penguins exercised their option…Signed PTO with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (1/18/08).

If there is such a thing as a hockey team having a heart and a soul, then Jean-Michel Daoust was the heart and soul of the 2009-10 Houston Aeros. No player felt worse after a loss than Daoust, and no player felt better after a win. Daoust had a breakout season for the Aeros, scoring a career-high 55 points (21+34=55). Daoust’s goals weren’t the pretty kind of goals that the fans got to know from the likes of Corey Locke and Krys Kolanos. Daoust’s goals seemingly came from nowhere. In the midst of a scrum the puck would pop out, guided by Daoust’s stick, and into the net. Dauost knew how to position himself for rebounds and tips. Daoust was the man behind the hustle goal, and he wanted the goals so badly that men much, much bigger than he were in just no position to stop him.

Daoust was also the instigator supreme. If there was a pileup of players, and if some opposing player came out swinging, then you knew that Daoust would emerge from the bottom of the pile with a huge smile on his face.

Kevin Constantine pointed to Max Noreau last season as a guy who came from nowhere to earn a NHL contract on the basis of hard work, hustle, and a never quit attitude. And the Noreau path was followed by Daoust who, on the basis of last season, earned his first ever NHL contract. It’s hard to know what role new coach Mike Yeo has in mind for Daoust this season, but of this one can be confident, whatever that role, Daoust will do himself, his coach, his teammates, and his team proud.

Photo courtesy Houston Press/Houston Aeros

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Time to end "Score the Goal."

Last year, around New Year's Eve, the Aeros did something profound. At least it seemed that way to me.They brought back (or reintroduced) a recorded goal horn when the Aeros score a goal at Toyota Center.

Unlike most other hockey buildings from the NHL to the lowest level college teams in North America, no one thought to pony up and pay for goal horn. These things are expensive, that I know for sure, but when hard core fans go to an Aeros game, that is something they missed.

At most hockey games, it goes like this:

Player shoots, player scores, loud goal horn sounds and then Rock and Roll, Part 2 or some other rock song blares over the speakers.

At an Aeros game, before New Year's, it went like this:

Player shoots. Player scores, Air Raid Horn goes off and the PA Announcer goes "SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE THAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO .... OOOOOOAL!"
Then fans get a song after announcer subs in as the goal horn.

Then, thanks to Social Media, the Aeros had a great way to start getting real time feedback about what they want at an Aeros game. A lot of fans said, not shockingly, "Get a goal horn."

Well, it costs $10k-$15k to install a real goal horn, so with that option well out the window, the Aeros did the next best thing. They play a recording of the Goal Horn from the Wild games in St. Paul Minnesota. The only problem with that, is that the announcer still goes "SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE THAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO .... OOOOOOAL!"

The following would make the Aeros look a lot better in their game day presentation:

Continue to employ two announcers at the game. One doing the PAs and one guy as the event host.
Continue to play the recorded goal horn this year.
Do not let the announcer sing "Score the goal" any more.
Find a rock song that you can play the very second the recorded horn ends.
I know the Air Raid horn is a big part of the Aeros history, so I think fans would have absolutely no problem if they played the goal horn and the Air Raid siren at the same time.

There needs to be consistency ... and this story from the New York Times had a quote from a Philadelphia Flyers staffer that sums up my thoughts exactly. Here is the quote:

"The intended effect (of finding the right rock and roll song to play after the goal horn) was to expose our fans to a song in which they can identify with the team, recognize immediately and energize....”

Read those last three:

  • IDENTIFY WITH THE TEAM
  • RECOGNIZE IMMEDIATELY
  • ENERGIZE

The Aeros scored a league-low 100 goals in 40 home games last year (2.5/gm.); not good for a ton of good memories.

But if they would incorporate these thoughts after every one of those 2.5 goals, every time an Aeros fan hears the goal song, they will have good memories about the time they had AT an Aeros game.

Score Goal.
Play Horn.
Play Song.
Be Happy!

What are your thoughts?

Do you think the Aeros game night presentation is good? How does it compare to other hockey games you have been to (specifically other AHL games, if you have been to those)?

Do you agree with my assessment here?

I would love to hear every one's feedback!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aeros announce preseason slate for 2010-11

The only thing surprising about the Aeros preseason schedule (announced today) is the fact that it came out BEFORE the regular season schedule. That has not happened in awhile. While this was not surprising, I just did not expect it.

It is well-documented that delays in getting the NBA schedule out has pushed back the released date of the AHL slate. Well, the AHL said today that the schedule will be out next Wednesday ...

Now on to the news ...

Just like they did a year ago, the Aeros will open their preseason schedule at Sugar Land on Oct. 1 against the San Antonio Rampage. And, also like 2009-10, they will finish things off with a quick trip over to Cedar Park for a game against the Texas Stars.

Dot, dot, dot ...

In other related Aeros news today, former forward Andy Hilbert is taking his injuries to Bridgeport. And, in case you missed this from the Aeros Web site, here are some details on how you can meet new Aeros head coach Mike Yeo.

Photo Courtesy of Fred Trask

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Meet Your 2010-11 Aeros: Colton Gillies

COLTON GILLIES

Born: February 12, 1989 (age 21)
Surrey, British Columbia

6 ft 04
195 lbs
Left Wing
Shoots: Left

Career Transactions:
Assigned to Houston (9/28/09)…Selected by Minnesota in the first round (#16 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Now that Benoit Pouliot is gone, it is probably safe to say that the biggest puzzle in the Wild system is Colton Gillies. He seems to have all of the physical tools to be among the best players in the system. He’s got some speed, he’s got some size. He’s got a decent shot, at times. But what Gillies has failed to do in either his one season with the Wild or his one full season with the Aeros is to put everything together at one time for an extended period of time.

Gillies, who finished with 20 points last season (7+13=20) in 72 games, had brief flashes where all of the potential came together and he seemed to be that player everyone thought he could be. Unfortunately, those flashes never lasted for extended amounts of time. And while his toughness had been questioned at times when with the Wild, he spent the first part of last season skating with a nose that he broke in a fight an open ice collision in Manitoba (thank you to anonymous in the comments). He also had a tendency, as did several of the younger Aeros, to get stupid penalties that turned into AHL suspensions.

But that was last season, and with Mike Yeo as the new coach, and with a new system for the players, Gillies is looking at a fresh start. The talent’s there. It’s just a question of getting it all to click into place, and getting it to all stay in place once it’s been clicked.

Photo Courtesy of Fred Trask

Monday, August 16, 2010

Best Of Houston

Hey readers, the good folks over at the mothership are conducting their annual Best of Houston contest, and one of the categories you can vote is on Best Aero. I can't tell you how to vote, but let's just say that, unless something changed and they didn't tell me, I was the one who actually got to make the official Houston Press selection for this year, and he was a short guy with three initials in his name who I chose as the Best Aero.

So do your American/Canadian duty and vote.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meanwhile, About The Schedule

I've got a post over at the mothership on the AHL scheduling process for anybody who might be interested. I tried to get some comments from the Aeros, but curiously, no one wanted to talk about it on the record. Still, expect a schedule sometime before the end of the month.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meet Your 2010-11 Aeros: Cody Almond

Photo courtesy of Chris "Hoss" Jerina

Cody Almond
Born: July 24, 1989 (age 21)
Calgary, AB

6 ft 1 in
199 lb
Forward (Center)
Shoots Left

Almond came into his first pro season, after being drafted in the 5th round by the Wild in 2007, with four increasingly successful years with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets under his belt. I liked his game from the start, but I found myself wondering: What is this guy's role? Is he a checker, a scorer, an agitator? What he's developing into is a hard-nosed power forward with a strong defensive mind-set and, just in general, a fun guy to watch play hockey.

With his excellent attention to his own end of the ice and fearless physical play (in spite of a couple of injuries that threatened to set him back), and his offensive upside and sharp hockey sense, Almond impressed coach Kevin Constantine and the bosses with the Wild enough to earn 7 games in the show last season.

He won’t likely make the Wild out of camp as the Wild have a glut of centers and he needs more time to develop, so for now, he’ll be in Houston.

Last season he racked up 18 points in 48 games, most of those in the second half of the season when he started to settle in to the pro game and was able to take advantage of the offensive talents that led him to nearly a point per game season his last year in Kelowna.

Almond isn’t a fighter, but never hesitated to come to a teammate's (or his own) defense and plays a pretty gritty game for a guy with decent hands like he has. He should be a real asset to the Aeros this season and should continue to make his case to be in Minnesota full time in 2011-12.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet your 2010-11 Aeros: Robbie Earl


Robbie Earl
Born: June 2, 1985 (age 25)
Chicago, IL

6 ft 0 in
195 lb
Forward (Left Wing)
Shoots Left

Robbie (pictured here (thanks, Fred!) scoring a goal against Manitoba in the 2009 playoffs) is probably most well known for scoring a goal in the final of the 2006 Frozen Four tournament while playing for the Wisconsin Badgers against Boston College. They won the game, the tournament, and is still a hero in Cheese land.

In 2004, he was Toronto's fourth pick in the NHL Entry draft and was traded to the Wild/Aeros on Jan. 21, 2009 for Ryan Hamilton. Robbie re-upped with the Wild this summer and will get a look when a left winger gets hurt up in Minnesota. He will definitely have more competition this year, so if he wants NHL dough again in 2010-11, he better take his game up a notch.

The guy is unquestionably fast. He's got good hands, but he has not shown the consistency needed to stick in the NHL. He was the Wild's top call-up from Houston last year, and he played well with the time he was given in the show.

Check out his talent analysis from the Hockey's Future Web site:

"Earl is a tremendously gifted offensive player who is exciting watch. He is an excellent skater with explosive speed. He’s a difficult player to contain because of his great ability to move not only through traffic but also around opposing defenders. He plays with intensity and will get involved in the physical aspects of the game. His play around the net is quite good. He will drive to the net as well as create chaos around it. He also possesses great playmaking skills. He sees the ice well and has good anticipation. He possesses a quick release and has no trouble finding the net. He has also shown a knack for scoring timely goals as well. One area of improvement for Earl is his size. At 185 lbs. he could stand to bulk up more."

Media-wise, Robbie is a a pleasure to work with. He is always available, polite, and gives concise explanations. Robbie is also a bit shy on the surface, but can be extremely funny. Check out this You Tube clip from his days in Toronto (his roommate was Justin Pogge, a former Leafs netminder.)

I hope Robbie's time is short in Houston. I think this is his last chance to prove himself after all, and if he does that, fans in Houston will be treated with quite the offensive show. His best season was 2007-08, his second full AHL season, with Toronto when he scored 14 goals and added 33 assists. Since then, he has not come close. He needs to this season.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meet your 2010-11 Aeros: Drew Bagnall

DREW BAGNALL
Born: October 26, 1983 (age 26)
Oakbank, MAN

6 ft 03
215 lb
Defense
Shoots Left

Transactions (from AHL.com): Selected by the Dallas Stars in the sixth-round (195 overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft…Traded to the Florida Panthers along with a draft pick (Enver Lisin) for Valeri Bure on March 8, 2004…Signed with the Los Angeles Kings as an unrestricted free agent on August 23, 2007…Inked a one-year deal with the Kings on July 20, 2009 ... Signed a two-way deal with the Minnesota Wild in July 2010.


In 2009-10, it can be argued that the Aeros had too many guys in leadership roles; conversely, that left too few other guys doing all the dirty work, etc. I feel this might be one of the contributing factors as to why the Aeros just did not hate losing bad enough and kept them from putting together anything more than just a three-game winning streak. I think the Aeros needed a "speak-with-your actions" kind of leader, and it looks like Jim Mill found just that with the signing of Drew Bagnall. Bagnall is a stay-at-home-guy that I think Aeros fans will be glad was not re-signed by the Los Angeles Kings Organization.

In 58 games for Manchester last year, Bagnall scored two goals and added 10 assists for 12 points. He added 113 PIMs and was the captain of a team that rode the back of goalie Jonathan Bernier through a respectable playoff run.

According to a well-respect hockey prospects site on the Internet: "Bagnall has good size and likes to play the body. He has solid instincts in all zones and usually can be counted on to make a key clear or keep the crease clear. He loves to shoot and join the rush. Bagnall also has very good stamina and can log a lot of minutes, including special teams play."

Bagnall is not known as a fighter, but he will stand up for anyone on his team. For more information on his fights from the past, click here.

Even though he has been mostly durable throughout his career, he did miss quite a few games (starting in December) with a lower body injury. He scored two goals last year, none of which came after he returned from injury.

An early look at the 2010-11 Aeros

This list is not intended to be taken as gospel. As we all know, injuries happen, players decide to go play in Russia and Wild players get concussions like Houstonians eat burritos. In fact, the signing of (Boom!) John Madden last week by the Wild makes it just about certain at this point that Casey Wellman will start the year in Houston. And that, again barring the unforeseen, is a good thing.

I think most of the following players will be here on opening night, and a few others (like Brandon Buck and J.P. Testwuide) could spend most of the season in Houston. So please read and peruse with a grain of salt, sand or those crumbs in your sofa. You know THOSE are good for you.

Goaltenders (2):
Anton Khudobin and Matt Hackett

Defensemen (7):
Marco Scandella, Justin Falk, Tyler Cuma, Drew Bagnall, Jamie Fraser, J.P. Testwuide and Max Noreau

Forwards (14):
Casey Wellman, Cody Almond, Colton Gillies, Warren Peters, Chad Rau, Joel Broda, Petr Kalus, Jon DiSalvatore, Carson McMillan, JM Daoust, Robbie Earl, Matt Kassian, Jarod Palmer and Brandon Buck.

Random notes:
As you can see, there are a ton of guys that have played on the Aeros before. If I did my math correctly, 16 of the 23 players above either spent all of last year with the Aeros or most of their year with the Aeros and some time with the Wild ... 15 of the players are Canadian, and six are American. Anton and Kalus are the only guys that don't hail from North America ... the top four scorers from last years team -- Daoust, Rau, DiSalvatore and Noreau -- are all returning ... With the likely and permanent departure of Danny Irmen, Max Noreau, Petr Kalus and Anton Khudobin (all here since 2007) are now the longest tenured Houston Aeros.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Countdown Begins

Hockey season is getting closer. You can always tell when things are about to heat up when the AHL releases their story on how the AHL schedule is put together.

I hope they know I am kidding around when I write this, but they always forget to add a graph or two about why it comes out later and later every year.

Right now, the NBA schedule is finished and will be released, it its entirety, next week. Then the AHL teams will get their copies and will review and submit dates they would like to change. After that, the AHL tries to accommodate as many of those changes as they can. Then they get the team to sign off ... and finally, the schedule is sent to the league's board of governors.

At that point, it is released to the masses.

Today is August 6, and the earliest fans will get a glimpse of the schedule is Friday, Aug. 20. If I had any money to wager, I would say it's released on Tuesday, Aug. 24.

WEB SITE UPDATE

Heather, John and I met Thursday night to talk about some things related to the Web site. We agreed not to change much, at least from a visual stand point, but what we will try to do is make the blog "less busy" (especially when it comes to the info in the right hand column.)

Leading up to the season last year, we had a photo contest, but as we all know, there are no photos from last year. So this year, we are going to have a "getting to know the team" countdown.

One of the things we talked about last night was the fact that going into the season last year, we did not know a whole lot about the guys as individuals. This year, we have a list of who we think will be on the Aeros opening night roster, and we will preview what we think those players will bring to the table.

We have 22 guys already slated for Houston, and last night, we had a draft to see who would cover whom. Heather, naturally, picked the goalies, and after about five minutes, we had our "teams."

This weekend, we are going to start with defenseman Drew Bagnall and we are going to update the blog every few days with a new player.

ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

What we didn't talk about at the meeting is what we can do better. We just ran out of time because the steak and potato were just too big, and John, being the polite one, did not want to talk with his mouth full.

So, having said that, what can we do better? ... or what can we do that we are currently not doing to keep you coming back to our blog.