Aeros Scribes, September 17 edition
While pulling my fleece over my head this week at the AHL Communication Meetings in Springfield, Mass., it occurred to The Scribe that this column needs a new name, because in 99 percent of the United States, its not still 98 degrees (with a heat index of 110 today, folks). They tell me hockey weather is coming. So we unveil Aeros Scribes
A Wild bakers dozen
The Wild assigned the following players to the Aeros earlier today goaltenders Josh Harding and Kyle Kettles; centers Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Marc Cavosie, Mikko Koivu and Rickard Wallin; left wings Derek Boogaard and Mark Rooneem; right wing Matt Foy and defensemen Chris Heid, Zbynek Michalek, Erik Reitz and Ryan Stokes.
The Aeros now have seven of Minnesotas top 10 prospects already assigned to camp, and a player like Bouchard isnt considered a prospect by The Hockey News after two seasons in the NHL. If youve watched the Wild, you know hes an exciting young prospect. Koivu is the No. 1 prospect of them all.
Stars assign four
The roster started to take shape Wednesday afternoon, when Dallas assigned goalie Mike Smith and forwards Junior Lessard, Marius Holtet and David Bararuk to the Aeros.
I still remember being mesmerized by Smiths 48-save performance (and near second career empty net goal) last October in my first trip to Toyota Center. Hes a guy who likes to play the puck.
I really look forward to seeing Lessard, last years Hobey Baker winner as college hockeys top player. The lockout will give him time to get used to the pro game.
Holtet is a wild card. The Stars were really happy to see him sign over the summer and come to North America to further his development. Hes the highest drafted Norweigan player in NHL history.
Bararuk grew up quickly with Utah last season, as he was counted on for more scoring than most 20-year-olds in the AHL. He really came to his own, particularly after the AHL season was over and he helped lead Idaho to the ECHL Kelly Cup title.
Well be at Randalls Saturday
It's the second of three Aeros on Location appearances Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the Randalls at 525 S. Fry Rd. The visits lead up to the teams September 27 training camp and October 15 season opener.
Mascot Chilly will be on hand, in addition to Sonic Boom and Strike Force. Refreshments will be available, and Aeros representatives will answer questions and hand out information on the 2004-05 season.
Several Houston-area Randalls will begin selling Aeros merchandise as part of the partnership.
Tickets, get your red-hot tickets
Aeros individual game tickets for the 2004-05 season will go on sale Saturday, Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. Tickets, priced at $11, $16, $20, $28 and $55, are available at the Toyota Center Box Office, all Randalls locations, www.aeros.com or by calling 1.866.GO.AEROS.
Quality players already trickling down
In addition to the players assigned to the Aeros, several other NHL regulars or top prospects have landed in the AHL this week. Among them are Thomas Vanek (Buffalo), Eric Staal (Lowell), Marek Svatos (Hershey), Nikolai Zherdev (Syracuse), Jay Bouwmeester (San Antonio), Jordin Tootoo (Milwaukee) and Jean-Marc Pelletier (Utah).
Chances are youll see 4-6 first-round picks playing at most AHL games this season.
The Gambler mentioned in ESPN The Magazine
The Scribe is sitting at the barber shop reading ESPN The Magazine last week, and turns to the No. 2 athlete of the last 25 years. The first two words of the story Troy Gamble? Next four words (paraphrased): Never had a chance.
No, the original Aeros goalie wasnt voted as the No. 2 athlete of the 25 years, but Wayne Gretzky was, and Gamble was getting the recognition of being in net during The Great Ones five-point night that included goal No. 500 (an empty netter).
Henderson returns to Providence
One edition after mentioning former Aero Jay Henderson had signed a deal in the UHL, today he returned to the Providence Bruins, with whom he won the first of his three Calder Cups.
Advertising gearing up
The Aeros start shooting TV commercials next week, and look for print ads in upcoming editions of Houston Press Best of Edition, 002 Magazine and Kids Directory.
Puck Pals info
Chillys Puck Pals memberships are now on sale for kids 14 and under. Puck Pals members get one free ticket to Chillys Birthday Party on Friday, Jan. 14, a t-shirt, membership card with a special message from Chilly, two exclusive Puck Pals events and discounts to six special Puck Pals games throughout the season.
Puck Pals memberships are $15 and can be ordered by calling Adrian Cavazos at 713.361.7940.
You can tell the season is getting close, the E-mail Bag is full this week.
Andy from Dunedin (also this weeks trivia winner)
Q: You mentioned Mikko Koivu playing for Finland in the World Cup of Hockey. Any relation to Saku Koivu?
Indeed, Mikko is Sakus younger (but you cant say little) brother. Mikko weighs in at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and is still growing. Hes got playmaking ability but perhaps what sets him apart from many others is his uncanny defensive ability as a two-way centerman. Hell be good offensively and at the same down shut down the stars of the game for many years to come.
Sam from Houston
Q: I am Rickard Wallins biggest fan. Is he going to be back on the team, and if so do you think hes going to be called up to Minnesota?
A: Unless the labor situation is settled in the coming days, Wallin will indeed begin the season with the Aeros. Should the dispute get settled mid-season, players like Wallin, Erik Reitz and Zbynek Michalek could be first in line to get called up.
Amanda from Kingston, Ont.
I was just wondering if Bill Kinkel is playing for the Houston Aeros or the Minnesota Wild?? And if he playing for the Houston Aeros how long until he gets to play for the Minnesota Wild??
I was just asking because Bill Kinkel was my favourite from the Kingston Frontenacs. He was great on the ice, and he was really nice off the ice. He gave me a birthday card on my birthday. Anyways, we are really going to miss Bill in Kingston. Actually we already do but tell him I said hi and good luck.
Always good to hear from our friends to the north. Bill is signed to an American Hockey League contract by the Aeros. Hell attend the Aeros camp starting September 27. The Wild will watch his progress carefully. Many players take years and years to eventually make it to the NHL.
Were glad to hear Bills a great person. He was nominated for the Dan Snyder Trophy in the OHL which is a plus in my book. We cant wait for him to be a part of the Houston community.
Ski from Houston
Q: As an avid NHL fan, I would like to propose that ESPN network pick up the games from the AHL like they picked up the games from the AAA baseball league several years ago when the Major League went on strike. This would let the NHLPA know that we still want our hockey but will watch the AHL just the same. But I wouldn't stop there...I would love to see ESPN to cover AHL games EVEN IF THE NHL LOCKOUT ENDS to send a message to the players.
Tell us how you really feel! A great, passionate e-mail that certainly speaks for volumes of hockey fans out there. Sports Net in Canada has already committed to picking up about twice the AHL games they would normally show with the NHL away. Unfortunately, since poker gets better ratings lately on TV, I think ESPN and company would rather keep showing poker reruns than commit Gary Thorne and company to any AHL arenas.
You too can submit a question to the Scribe's E-mail Bag.
Congratulations to Andy from Dunedin, Fla., (stay safe!), who correctly answered that Mike Dunham was the last American born goalie to win or share the Jennings Trophy for lowest team goals against average. Lots of votes for Mike Richter and John Vanbiesbrouck. Good goalies, lousy teams! Dunham teamed with Martin Brodeur to win the award with the Devils in 1996-97, two seasons after winning the AHLs version of the prize, the Harry (Hap) Holmes Award, with Corey Schwab in Albany.
On to this weeks question, and since we were speaking of The Great One
Three modern day players (post mid 1930s) have worn the No. 99 Gretzky and two others. Name the only other two players to don that sweater in the modern era. Hint: One of them recently had West Division ties.
Send your answers to email@example.com. The winner gets an Aeros 2002-03 team photo.
We give you The Final Word while wondering why that guy on The Apprentice didnt keep his mouth shut last night.
After traveling for much of the week, I wonder what exactly did we all do at airports before they put Pac Man on our cellphones?