If there were a series of novellas written about the professional career of Linus Omark, the first volume could be penned by Dennis Lehane. The man most famous for writing ‘Mystic River’ has a full catalog of books that always tell two tales that get woven into one incredible ending. Sometimes the beauty is discovering the twist before it arrives, and sometimes the twist is that there isn’t really a twist at all. By modern standards, few write like Lehane does, and few do it with such fabulous consistency.
Linus Omark was predestined greatness far too prematurely. With the YouTube sensation tag stamped on the heart of draft watchers, it appeared that the Oilers stole a sniper late in the 4th round of 2007. And yet he was a mysterious figure to some — a player with a lot of potential on paper and very few seen-him-good moments taken by firsthand accounts. But the stats, the size, the skill remained. And so he laced up his skates with the Edmonton Oilers organization deep in the meat basket of the United States (or as you know it, Oklahoma).
On a too-warm-for-winter December day last year, the Barons held an outdoor skating get together for fans in the downtown Oklahoma City area. Amidst the rebirth of that particular portion of the city, and the shadow of the nearly completed Devon Tower in the background, a good smattering of faithful hockey followers had an opportunity to hang out with their favorite minor league faces.
Magnus Paajarvi, recently sent to the farm from Edmonton, was in attendance. There was the steady up and comer, Teemu Hartikainen. Yann Danis showed up with his new baby. Uncomfortable with the situation at first, it didn’t take long for the group to gel well with the fans who were eager to snap a photo and carry on conversations.
Good friend of this site, and the aim of the “Where’s Rob Ferguson?” game that goes on in my head, Rob Ferguson was on hand to snap some photos of the day. And in one quick jump of the lens, he captured the greatest Barons picture to date.
You’d expect it to be of an incredible Danis glove save. Or maybe a Jake Taylor mix up in the corner. Or maybe it was a Plante cross-check that the refs missed, but the camera caught. Or maybe it was a Magnus Paajarvi wing wrister. No, instead it was a laid back photo that embodied both the aspects of why AHL hockey exists — a city and its prospects.
There are few trinkets and knick-knacks in professional sports that are much greater than the bobblehead. Equal parts creepy and indelibly cutesy, the springy headed figures are impressive whether they sit on a shelf in your man cave or on your desk in your Manhattan skyscraper of an office. They simply work. Chunks of plaster shaped into tiny bodies, with little muscle tone, are a topped wtih ginormous sized Sesame Street inspired heads whose eyes have been known to follow you around the room. You don’t necessarily play with them, so they can’t be a child’s toy. You can’t really do much with them for that matter. Instead they are like trophies of the whos-it-and-whats-its of your sports viewing/collecting/inheriting life. And like a 6 year old boy who discovers a bull frog in the back yard, you force people to look at them however creepy or lovely they may be.
Like any warm bloodied, tax paying, face shaving adult — I too love a good bobblehead. And the minor leagues of various sports seemingly have the most outrageous of the bunch.
David Andrews, President and CEO of the American Hockey League, is a consummate professional. Always consistent in his discussion of things that effect the second best league in the world. However, he’s often ridiculed for his lack of fervor when it comes to progressively making the league better. Perhaps he’s too much of an NHL “yes man” or maybe he’s simply handcuffed to its affiliations, but either way, he has to be ecstatic about the potential lockout — if only for a season, and only for immediate profit potential.
In an interview conducted this week on NHL Home Ice, Andrews called the league a “neutral party” when it came to giving comments on the imminent NHL lockout. On the same matter, he continued to point to the fact that he wouldn’t make any speculation about what players would be playing in his league “until the end of September”.
“The 2012-13 Barons Ice Girl Tryouts are complete and okcbarons.com has the full report.” – via OKC Barons
“Teubert will likely see NHL time, as he’s probably ninth on the Oilers’ depth chart as of this writing (I’d slot Taylor Fedun and Martin Marincin behind him, though a strong push from either could make things interesting) but hopefully not as much as last season.” – via Cult of Hockey
“What are his positives? He is an excellent EV strength player in the AHL. Arcobello’s 73, 14-22-36 was a very good even strength number and his 185 shots on goal rank in the league’s top 50. What are his negatives? Well, size for one and the other thing is that he is now 24 (birthday last week) and is not an impact player even at the AHL level.” – via Lowetide
“People said Oklahoma City couldn’t handle baseball, hockey and professional basketball, but everybody got proved wrong,” he said. “This place used to be a dump, now it’s a showcase.” – via El Paso Inc.
“The Barons play Calgary’s affiliate in Abbotsford on November 9th and 10th. It’s only a twelve hour drive from Edmonton. Grab a cooler and some gas money. If you’re inclined to catch a flight to see the Barons in OKC, they play Abbotsford at the Cox Convention Center on April 19th and 20th.” – via Oil On Whyte
“The life of a minor league hockey player is not easy, but it is also not without its rewards.” – via Artful Puck
“At one level it’s almost silly to micro-analyze performance on a game-to-game basis when considering prospects who are likely years away from the big stage. That said, confidence can be a fleeting thing, especially when it comes to goaltending. It also extends beyond the player himself to the organization that is projecting his performance forward.” – via Cult of Hockey
“Ex-OKC Barons forward Andrew Lord scored the first goal for his new team SC Riessersee in their preseason game against Tölzer Löwen. 3-2 win. Well done, Andrew!” – via Artful Puck
“One of the biggest questions with the possible NHL lockout, is who can play for the Barons if there is one? There’s really no definite answer by the NHL, the NHL Player’s Association, or the AHL. There seems to be two (and a third issue that has no relation to the NHL lockout, but between the AHL and Canadian junior hockey leagues) possible answers, and whichever one is the case will be have a big impact on who we may see in Oklahoma City this season.” – via 1340 The Game Barons Blog
“Patterson played four seasons for the Panthers notching 31 goals and 41 assists during his career. After graduating, he went on to play a season with the Central Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Blazers in 2008–09.” – via Prince Edward Guardian
“I had the opportunity of seeing Bunz play a number of games over the past two seasons and was consistently impressed by his play and professionalism. The workhorse has got good size, strong technique shutting off the bottom half of the net, and excellent reflexes. Tyler is also an accomplished puckhandler, an attribute that has been missing from the Oilers’ crease for far too long.” – via Cult of Hockey
“In February, Lander was sent to Oklahoma City, and his limited production there (9 points in 28 AHL regular season and playoff games) raised further doubts about where the charismatic Swede projects in the long term.” – via Cult of Hockey
“One of the great things about Nelson is that he doesn’t gloss or dillydally. Ask him a question, you get an answer. An example, here’s what he said when asked about Hamilton and Tyler Pitlick: “Pitlick’s the more dynamic of the two. He has a flashy skating stride, a hard shot, plays both centre and wing.” – via Lowetide
“The Calgary Sun confirmed that on Thursday, with a report the Flames have put full-time staffers and contract workers on notice that salary cuts are a possibility in the event of a lockout, perhaps as early as Sept. 16.” – via Sporting News
“Careers can end suddenly and it is rare to be able to reach the age of 40 and still be playing professional hockey! Or course, there are always exceptions, but they are unusual and a topic for another installment in this series” – via Artful Puck
“InGoal met LeNeveu while he was working and training at Gold in the Net Hockey School in Parksville, BC. We joined him on-ice in Parksville, where he was training daily with coach Perry Elderbroom, who is the President of Gold in the Net Hockey Schools.” via InGoal Magazine
If you haven’t heard the news, the NHL is likely headed towards a lockout. Pull yourself from the rabbit hole because the AHL CBA doesn’t expire until the end of the upcoming season so minor league hockey rolls on without its big brother (which disturbs me). On August 20th, Bill Scott joined Dan Tencer on Inside Sports to discuss the impact a lockout would have on the Oklahoma City Barons. The highlight of the conversation was about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who Scott is clearly tucking in the back of his mind for top line center (sorry Josh Green).
It’s no great mystery that the Oklahoma City Barons are a hockey team somewhat lost in their own city. They are overshadowed by the NBA and NCAA in a Fall/Winter sports season that gets very crowded, very quickly. The fight for viewers will make for the sell of hockey in OKC a tough one for a long time. And to address that very issue, Prodigal makes a couple of hiring moves to aid in this endeavor.
At the bottom of this post you’ll find the names, job titles, and impressive resumes of the individuals now working for Prodigal in various capacities. What is interesting is the places they land within the umbrella organization of the Barons, Prodigal LLC. Brenda Bennett comes in as Vice President of Marketing and Advertising. She’s likely the one that will be responsible for bringing Barons hockey to the forefront of sports in OKC. Jon Beilstein is the new Vice President of Sales. He’ll likely bring a seasoned mind (11 years with Grand Rapids Griffins) to promotions, season ticketing, and concessions. And then there’s Darren Ransley, Director of Creativity and Entertainment. He’s the glitz and glamour taskmaster that likely gives Prodigal an edgy frame to corporate sponsors and the overall bang for your buck packaging.
When David Quinn was promoted from the Lake Erie Monsters head coaching job to assistant with the Colorado Avalanche, it was just a matter of time before the organization selected a young up and comer to toil away in Cleveland. Thus comes Dean Chynoweth, a former player and most recently an Islanders assistant, to help guide the team in what will be their sixth season of AHL play. With the addition of Chynoweth the team will likely continue their moniker of being defensively sharp, but with the desire to play a much speedier offensive game. But with four youthful goaltenders battling for AHL spots (Sami Aittokallio, Kieran Millan, Kent Patterson, Calvin Pickard), the shedding of goal scorers (Greg Mauldin, Evan Brophey, Patrick Rissmiller, Ryan Stoa), and the unknown impact of an NHL lockout – it’s hard to get a handle on how the lineup fuses together, at least in mid to late August.
It was inevitable that the Monsters rid themselves of forwards that simply didn’t come up big when they needed them most. In April of last season, it was hard to find enough offensive power from the Erie squad to make the playoffs. Thus the season ended a bit early, and with a lot of question marks in the minor league offseason. But hope in this department seemingly came at the trade deadline of 2012. That’s where the Avs/Monsters found Mike Connolly.
There have been volumes of books written about what it means to properly criticize businesses and entertainment endeavors. In those books you’ll find a various amount of formulaic set of how-to’s that guide you along whether you’re a consummate professional writing for the NY Times or you wear boxer briefs in your door room and write about XBOX games. And for the most part the insights found in these writings are very unique, insightful, and often times eye opening. But in studying these things throughout the years (anthropology major right here), there is certainly a common thread that bonds all the various authors together.
Instead of giving you the common thread I’ll point you to the great Winston Churchill whom once said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” And indeed Mr. Churchill understood criticism.
To the previous point, the reason that criticism is essential is two fold — Bringing attention and keeping attention. And cases could be made when one works without the other. Television, movies, books, music, sports all have had moments where something garnered some attention, but didn’t keep it. When the key is longevity in success healthy criticism is required. It keeps the endeavors honest. Grant Cardone is a highly successful business trainer and author. He once wrote, “The longevity of a project is determined by the quality of what you offer, the success of your project is determined by how much attention you can get for it.” And he’s right. Entities require attention. Lack of attention would equate to “stepping backward”.
Aaahhh, Lake Erie — Where Monsters live in a big house that is both frozen and hot at different times during the week. The Q is a great venue, albeit large for hockey, but one that packs a punch. Thousands of fans enter its doors for Cavs games, but lately the Monsters have been a big draw too. And so the Oklahoma City Barons will head the way of Cleveland for their 2012-13 season opener.
The schedule is kind to the youthful Barons. October 12th & 13th in Erie, then home for seven straight games including Erie twice, Houston thrice, and Texas once. That rounds out the first 3 weeks of the season. And that’s big news for ticket sales and promotions one would think. To have seven straight at home in the second week of the AHL season should be absolute gold.