When you get down to the nuts and bolts of it all, the American Hockey League exists for two very distinct, but very intertwined reasons. First, and the farthest reaching, is for development purposes. Young, immature, inexperienced, and tawdry sportsman push hard to earn both a bigger paycheck and accomplish a lifelong dream of playing in the NHL. The minors have a way of thinning the heard in this regard, and the path to big league glory is very narrow. The second, and most pertinent to this argument, is the selfish successes that the hosting AHL city hopes to procure. An AHL squad cannot succeed as an organization without both of these roles working in tandem, with a careful attention towards not being negligent on either side.
The developmental curve for young forwards dreaming of the NHL is a steep and treacherous downhill race. Imagine standing at the top of a grassy plateau (draft day), you look down the steep embankment with wonder (donning the jersey), you lean forward (sign contract), bend your knees (head to AHL), and head furlong towards the bottom (toiling away for a shot in the big leagues). Somewhere, typically mid-hill, your legs pump so quickly that you teeter dangerously on the verge of face-planting the rest of the way down or surviving with sore muscles, a stiff back, and scars to prove you made it in one piece. To carry the analogy even further – surviving the hill is something that rarely happens. Just ask these guys.
I think that David LeNeveu is a great guy. Cornell trained, Hobey Baker tested, and unmercifully bounced around various leagues. He’s a married man who celebrates his wedding anniversary through Facebook announcements and that’s incredibly sincere and rare in today’s society. Canadian, with a 6′ 1″ smallish frame, catching left, and snatching a first round draft card within the top 50 in 2002. I’ve not met him, and I’ve not seen him play, but for all practical purposes, I like David LeNeveu. Nothing official has been made by the team, but all roads point to LeNeveu residing in Bricktown next season. Taking a look at his stats both professionally and while in school, the unsymmetrical nature of his goaltending game still has me slightly disconcerted, but I understand this move.