By Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Pre-season schedule released
As we grow closer to the release of the regular-season schedule, the Aeros and Rampage unveiled a four-game pre-season slate yesterday. The teams will play at the Sugar Land Aerodrome Saturday, Oct. 2 and Friday, Oct. 8. Both games are at 7:05 p.m. Cost is $5 (cash only), with a limit of 250 fans.
Gather all your friends
With the 2004-05 AHL schedule slated for release in just a few days, it's time to start thinking about your groups. Why not bring a group of your co-workers, friends, family, church or school out to an Aeros game this season. Discounted group seating is available for all games. Aeros tickets representatives will help you select the dates that work best with your schedule.
Also, it's not too late to lock in your season seats for the 2004-05 season. All you need to do is put down that $11 per seat deposit and you're ready for an action-packed year at Toyota Center!
For ticket information, call 713.974.PUCK.
The Scribe learns something by waiting
Within hours of the last edition of SummerScribes, we had an AHL team move across several Canadian provinces. This week, we decided for a later release, and it was a good thing, because there's more late-breaking news this afternoon. Former Aeros winger Richard Park signed a new one-year deal with the Minnesota Wild. Park is coming off a 25-point (13-12=25) season, tying his career-high.
This just in too
Future Hall of Famer and active NHL scoring leader Brett Hull has signed with Phoenix. He was rumored to be in talks with Dallas, but the Coyotes nabbed him this afternoon.
Griffins keep quartet
With veterans such as Derek King and Marc Lamothe departing, Grand Rapids got good news this week when veteran Travis Richards re-signed for another season. Richards has played in an unthinkable 666 games with the Griffins. Also assuring themselves of an 04-05 campaign were general manager Bob McNamara, head coach Danton Cole and assistant coach Greg Ireland.
Vodrazka rejoins Pride
Jan Vodrazka, a stay-at-home D-man who battled injuries to play a key defensive role down the stretch for the Aeros in 2004-05, signed with the ECHLs Pee Dee Pride this week. Vodrazka previously played for Pee Dee (named for a river in South Carolina) from 1998-99. He and his wife, Emily, a Florence native, recently celebrated the birth of their first child.
Cull, Barr realign
Former Aeros GM Dave Barr lured Trent Cull to be an assistant coach with the OHLs Guelph Storm. Cull, a member of Aeros for most of four seasons, retired after two seasons with the Syracuse Crunch.
Hockey programs page unveiled
Make sure to follow Houston-area youth hockey by clicking here. Read all about midget roster openings this week. More to be included on this page as we get closer to the season.
Chilly Cool-Off deadline extended
Weve extended the Chilly Cool-Off deadline until August 13. If youd like to have Chilly barbecue for you and your closest friends, click here for more info.
Why hockey is great
Many fans out there get restless this time of the year, especially with the lockout talk and the fact that player signings havent been as plentiful as in years past. Do yourself a favor and keep up with the NHLs arbitration hearings. I know, this sounds like watching paint dry. But its not!
In baseball, the arbitrator decides between the dollar figures submitted by the player and team. But in hockey, its wild. The arbitrator gives the player what, in his opinion, hes worth, which is why you saw Bostons Sergei Gonchar get a 51 percent raise. The best part of the process to me is that NHL arbitration isnt binding. If the arbitrator gives the player too much money, the team can walk away.
If there is an NHL lockout, will it affect the AHL as well?
Also, where is the best place to park at Toyota Center? Does light rail go near there? I used to catch 10- 20 Aeros games a year when they were at Compaq Center because access was easy and the parking was free. Last year I went to one game (and had a terrible parking experience). I had been getting my AHL fix by seeing other teams when I traveled (Portland, Philly, Hartford...). If I can find an easy way to get to the games I would love to support the "home" team.
--Karen from Houston
Those are some great questions, Karen. The AHL will play regardless of an NHL lockout. However, the NHL lockout could affect the AHL in many ways. I think its a general consensus that teams with young players who spent a good chunk of last season in the AHL but got a sniff of the NHL will be in good shape. Several Wild prospects like Rickard Wallin, Kyle Wanvig, Stephane Veilleux and Zbynek Michalek, all of whom would seem to have a good chance of making the Minnesota roster, would be in an Aeros uniform. Its a precarious spot for most AHL general managers, who have to make sure they stockpile enough players, in case the NHL would start in say, January, with each team probably taking their top three or four prospects away from the AHL teams.
Were sorry you had a bad experience parking at Toyota Center. Things have gotten much better, especially if you went early in the season. The best place to park is in the Toyota Tundra Garage adjacent to the arena. You can even buy parking in advance through the Aeros office. There are numerous other pay lots around as well. The light rail runs along Main St., which is five of six blocks from La Branch, where Toyota Center is located. Its not too bad of a walk to see a hockey game!
Congratulations (and a happy birthday) to David Smith of Sugar Land, last editions trivia winner. He correctly answered that Rob Valicevic had the worst shootout percentage 1-for-19.
On to this weeks fun. Current broadcaster and former New York Ranger goalie John Davidson is the most famous hockey goalie to don the number 00. It was a long time between Davidson and the next to wear that number, which has since been banned by the NHL. Which ACTIVE NHL goalie was the next (and only, as far as our research can tell) to wear 00? The first to respond here with the correct answer gets an Aeros 2003 championship picture.
Speaking of former goalies
Congrats to former Aeros coach Ron Low, who last week was named goaltending coach and scout for the Ottawa Senators. Low was just 102-203-38 with six NHL teams, but they often say that those who have had to struggle to make it to the top make the best coaches, because they had to work hard. Low assisted Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr and Billy Ranford as Edmontons goalie coach in 1989 and was most recently a New York Rangers scout.
A final word
Heres hoping that the U.S. Olympic Basketball team, fresh off a loss to Italy and a narrow win over Germany, took some hints from the 1998 U.S. Hockey team. If you still stink when the real play begins, dont trash the hotel on the way out.