The Barons Re-imagined

The first round of the playoffs have come to a rollicking conclusion for our beloved Barons. They fought hard, struggled a bit, but proved they were a much superior team to that of the Houston Aeros. As we await the next opponent, and a subsequent seven game series, we all begin to daydream.

I’ve often complained about attendance at Barons games, and at times it really is most disconcerting. But imagine with me for one moment a world where the Barons are a global brand. One where they are as welcomed in Oklahoma City as they are in Okinawa. A brand synonomous with grit, determination, agility, ferocity, and heart.

As my mind wandered yesterday evening, I began imaging this world even more. Forget the 2,000 that know them; instead it’s 200 million that chant LETS GO BARONS.

So, without further ado, I give you the Barons — through the eyes of global brands. Can you guess the original brands that coincide with these logos. Post in the comments. I’m excited to see whom can get them first. Enjoy

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Barons Postseason ATO Parade – Tyler Bunz

In what is probably the most surprising ATO moment for the Barons this year, it was announced yesterday that Tyler Bunz had been assigned to the Barons of Oklahoma City. Oddly enough, we’ve seen nothing official at www.edmontonoilers.com or at www.okcbarons.com as of the time of this post. It’s surprsising because Bunz is a young, young goaltender who’ll be considered a part of an “in house” roster with the best goaltender and the best backup in the entire American Hockey League. So what’s guy to do? Simply put he’s being added to the ATO pile to gain exposure.

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NHL Team Drafts High, AHL Team Benefits

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

As I watched Steven Tambellini glide across the stage at last night’s NHL Draft Lottery I giggled. Not because anything amusing was going on. But because I knew there was absolutely no way the hockey gods would have predicted the Edmonton Oilers would AGAIN nab a first round pick. Inconceivable at best, the Oilers defied the odds, and stole the first overall from the even lowlier Columbus Bluejackets. To call any organization “lucky” while they simultaneously tank three years (or more) in a row to become lotto eligible is not lost on me. It’s also quite entertaining to watch the worst of the worst in the NHL crack smiles, shake hands, and smile for cameras at an event of this nature — less than 24 hours prior to the best of the best battling each other for the Stanely Cup. Ironic indeed.

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NHL Reinforcements & A Heart Transplant

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

Easter Sunday, the Oilers made transactions that sent Teemu Hartikainen, Chris VandeVelde, and Colten Teubert to the Oklahoma City Barons for what will be a Calder Cup run for the minor league roster. There’s no denying that the Barons are kinda whispering their way into the playoffs. Sure they will likely nab a 1 seed in the West (although Toronto might best that at the last minute) with the best overall record in that conference, but they are doing so with a March/April record of 8-6-2-2. Although above .500 in regulation those 10 outright losses are pretty simple evidence that this team is dipping (not diving) towards an imposition. A crossroads where the team learns to play team hockey and thus winning hockey, or have that first round, five game series over before the dust settles.

With those three players returning to the farm, where they set up shop for most of the season, the Barons just might get a little edge that they were lacking. Not goal scoring or assist making (although that’s a possibility), but rather some heart. Hartikainen is a player that is a take charge winger. Strong, sturdy, and charismatic when he wants to be. VandeVelde is a third line closer that matches up nightly with opposing top lines. He is a yeoman at frustrating others. Then there’s Colten Teubert. A guy with which the organization, at both levels, seems to enjoy. I find his play lacking something. However, he does add that heart element in most regards. He embraces his situations and predicaments with full force. He realizes his prospect nature, chooses to work hard wherever he might be. These are all qualities that the Barons in its current incarnation seem to be lacking.

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The Matt Donovan Footnote

I’ve done a handful of interviews this season. Some really solid, some scarily boring. But every now and again you strike sporting gold. Like this week, when Matt Donovan earned his first NHL callup to the NY Islanders. Matt, of course, is the only born, raised and trained Oklahoman to play in the NHL. It’s a first with many years in the making. After that interview I took a couple of deep breaths. At a hamburger. Enjoyed some unseasonably warm Oklahoma weather, and digested my interview that occurred at Copper & Blue of Matt as well as what this call up really means for the state I call home. Here are those not-so-eloquent ramblings. READ THE FULL C&B INTERVIEW HERE >>>

Interviewing the young defenseman, Matt Donovan, is something that I had planned to do for at least a year now. I’d not done it for several reasons, most of them time related, but nonetheless it just never happened. The Bridgeport Sound changed my mind, as did the sharply tuned Donovan in his rookie season. Like out of nowhere, Matt Donovan became one of the best minor league defenders in the country. He scores, he skates, he passes, he assists — the kid seemingly got good. Unless you followed the pre-professional days of Donovan, this likely surprised you a bit. While hockey fans were seemingly impressed and Isles fans basked in a prospect with great determination, the culmination of what was and is occurring in Matt Donovan’s early pro career is fantastic to behold. But when you understand that this kid came from a hockey community with great tradition, but one where hockey is one of the least likely sports for kids to embrace, the story becomes infintely more interesting.

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Barons Postseason ATO Parade – Martin Marincin

The Regina Pats are done for the season. After losing to the Moose Jaw Warriors in five games, the likelihood of two prospects in the Oilers system joining the Oklahoma City Barons was inevitable. At least one half of that equation is a go. Brandon Davidson, sidelined after a separated shoulder, will not be healthy enough to play for the Barons this post season. However, his comrade in arms, Martin Marincin, will do just that — he’s expected to play in the OKC lineup this evening.

Marincin, or the Slovakian String Bean (Thanks Bruce & Patricia for pointing this out), is no stranger to Oklahoma City having played at least one game last season in the 7 game grind fest with the Hamilton Bulldogs that ended the Barons run at one round. Quite honestly, Marincin looked lost in that one game. But fared well for his first pro game, in a hostile environment, with tons on the line.

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