Where Did The Summer Go?

Labor Day...already?

Or, in the case of the NHL perhaps "No Labor Day" is more appropriate.

In a post last summer, I mentioned my wife's vexation with hockey having become a 12 month endeavor. I've done better in trying to achieve a balance of sorts this summer. At the risk of making excuses, any perceived increase in "free time" has been given back to my town, where, since the end of hockey season, I have become an elected official.

Some odds-n-ends from the hockey folder on my laptop

The Blue Jackets are temporarily captain-less.
I have yet to offer any commentary on the trade that sent Rick Nash to the Rangers. In an interesting set of circumstances, I will still be watching all players involved. As some of you know, I have been a Rangers fan for most of my life, so it'll be interesting to see all the guys involved, with new sweaters.

Having seen Dubi and Artie for the past several seasons, both in Hartford and New York, these are a couple of guys who can have a nice impact on the offense. Personally, I think Anisimov could really step up and be a consistent 60+ point player. Dubinsky will need to maintain his focus, and if so, will be a key asset for the Jackets. Tim Erixon split time between Hartford and New York last season, and was OK. His addition to the Columbus blueline opens up many possibilities both for the Jackets and for the Springfield Falcons.

Springfield Hockey Heritage Society welcomes new members
The history of hockey is alive and well in Springfield. In a brief and rare moment of self promotion, the Springfield Hockey Heritage Society held its largest gathering to date on Sunday July 29th. The venue was the venerable Eastern States Coliseum in West Springfield, MA.
An overflow crowd included several local residents with ties to the game, past and present. Included in the group on hand for "Hockeyday at the Coliseum" were none other than Eddie "Ted" Shore, Jr. son of the legendary Hall of Famer, Eddie Shore. We were also joined for the very first time by longtime linesman Kevin Collins. Collins currently works for the NHL. Gordie Anziano, former vice president of the AHL for many years was at the luncheon. AHL Hall of Famer Jimmy Anderson received the biggest round of applause of the afternoon. Anderson, played nearly his entire career in Springfield, when there were just six teams in the NHL. He amassed 425 goals and 391 assists for 816 points in 929 regular season games as a member of the Springfield Indians and Kings. He added 14 playoff goals in 37 playoff games, while winning the Calder Cup three times.

Representing the present, Bob Oliver, senior vice president and alternate governor of the Springfield Falcons presented several key members of the Falcons front office. Oliver introduced the voice of the Falcons, Mike Kelly. Along with Kelly, new manager of media relations, Eric Levine was there along with Chris Thompson.

The day's festivities wound down when Shore went into the arena and shared some terrific stories from days long gone. This was indeed a great day for hockey in Springfield!

In the days following "Hockeyday at the Coliseum", some former Springfield players became members of the SHHS. Among them, Gordie Smith, Howie Menard, AHL Hall of Famer Noel Price and most recently, "Grapes" himself - Don Cherry.

Falcons signings -
Unlike last season when the Jackets signed some high priced talent for Springfield, the signings this summer point to more of a lunch box crew for the upcoming season. This should bode well for first year head coach Brad Larsen. Larsen's bench was strengthened with the signing of former Peoria Rivermen head coach Jared Bednar. Speaking of the bench, assistant coach Nolan Pratt received a contract extension from Columbus.

In July, the Falcons announced that they have signed goaltender Paul Dainton, left wing Tim Spencer, and center Nathan Moon to one-year AHL contracts for the 2012-2013 season.

One of the Birds' more high profile signings was the return of center Ryan Craig on a one-year AHL contract for the upcoming season. Craig, a veteran with nearly 200 games of NHL experience and a former Falcon captain, returns to the club after skating for Springfield during the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons. A 10th-year pro, Craig played the majority of the last two seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, scoring 30 goals and adding 48 assists for 78 points in 139 games from 2010 to 2012 while serving as the Penguins' captain.

As July drew to a close, the Falcons announced the signings of right wing Trent Vogelhuber, goaltender Mike Clemente and left wing Wade MacLeod to one year AHL contracts.

Vogelhuber, a rookie who made his professional debut in two contests with the Falcons at the end of last season, played the last four years at Miami University (NCAA, D-I). With the RedHawks, Vogelhuber accumulated 21 goals and 30 assists for 51 points in 149 games from 2008-2012.

Clemente, a rookie, participated in six games with the Falcons at the end of the 2011-2012 season after completing his four-year career at Brown University (NCAA, D-I). With Springfield, Clemente went 2-1-0-0 with a .930 save percentage, a 1.99 goals-against average, and a shutout.

MacLeod, a second-year pro, played his entire rookie season with the Falcons in 2011-2012, scoring 10 goals and adding 19 assists for 29 points in 66 contests while registering a +6 rating, tying for the club high. MacLeod and defenseman Dalton Prout were two of the Falcons that I was very pleased with by the end of the season. Both started out the season somewhat unsure of themselves, but by season's end, I found both to be reliable, having grown into their positions. I'm looking for big things out of both guys this season.

2012-2013 Falcons Schedule - more of the same
After two seasons as the primary affiliate of the Blue Jackets, fans outside of the greater Springfield area may have gotten used to the limitations of the AHL's bus league schedule. All 76 of the Falcons regular season games in 2012-2013 will be skated within the Eastern Conference of the AHL. Similar to 2011-2012, the Binghamton Senators are left out of the mix. The Falcons schedule can be found in three different versions by clicking here.

Lockout will not affect AHL
Falcons President, GM and minority owner Bruce Landon brought fans up to date last week on how the possibility of an NHL lockout will affect, or more accurately, will not, affect AHL play.

During the lost NHL season of 2004-2005, the Falcons were the top affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. While many other AHL clubs had some terrific additions, such was not the case for the Stanley Cup champions, as many opted for Europe instead of the "A".

Falcons Opening Night at The Nest is just 40 days away!


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