If there is one thing that concerns me about the Oklahoma City Barons this season, it’s the defense. I use the word type loosely because every season is vastly different, but Coach Todd Nelson is a defensive type hockey coach. His teams aren’t lulling you to sleep nor are they overtly brawny. Actually sometimes deception kicks in, and it appears that offense is the key. He’s been gifted some of the most talented forwards in the AHL the last two seasons. As the Barons coach, his teams have been highly entertaining to watch from the stands. But his motto will always be defense first.
It starts in net. Goaltenders need to be consistent and able to steal games at times. Then it moves to the left and right defensemen. They need to handle the puck quickly, efficiently, and with very little error. Time wasted in the defensive zone, moving back to the offensive side, is something that the Barons have always tried to hone. The defensive core in Oklahoma City doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be quietly well-organized and disciplined.
There is no reason to believe that a Nelson coached team in 2012-13 will be any different.
With no Edmonton Oilers training camp running in tandem with the one in Oklahoma City, the list of attendees at Barons camp was pretty much solidified weeks ago. Yet there are always a few nearby players who make the list, take a shot, and ultimately return to their team of origin.
Here’s the full camp list:
Josh Green[/fourcol_one] [fourcol_one]Curtis Hamilton
Anton Lander Eric Hunter
Tanner House Justin Maylan
Kristians Pelss[/fourcol_one] [fourcol_one]Kristians Pelss
Chris VandeVelde Gary Steffes
Cameron Abney Trevor Ludwig[/fourcol_one] [fourcol_one_last]Ian Keserich
Another day, another dose of reality. The influx of Oilers-bred players is prepped to descend on the great state of Oklahoma. For how long, one can only guess (I’m predicting Thanksgiving). But in the short run, it’s going to be entertaining to watch the demigod transcend the AHL ranks.
Many writers/bloggers/non-pants-wearers have bludgeoned the world with predictions on where this guy will play and that guy will play. Most have been consistent in the belief that Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle will roll together with a solid prospect filling in the final 1/3 gap – most commonly Hartikainen and Paajarvi. Barons Coach, Todd Nelson, has mentioned this on at least two occasions via Edmonton radio spiel.
So that leaves a lot of jockeying for position amongst the remaining Barons. So without further hesitation, I give you the forward line predictions (subject to change because these things are inevitable; and…I’m sleepy).
The AHL quietly unveiled their AHL Live streaming packages via the NeuLion online broadcast company this evening. The pricing does not deviate even slightly when compared to last season. There is also no mention to a change in service. No mobile features. No rewind, pause, fast forward, etc. Instead, it seems, that even in a lockout year, the AHL will be providing the same schtick it’s been producing for several seasons.
As of 9/22/2012 packages cannot be purchased, but will likely be available in the next week or so.
Below are the prices:
All Access – Every team. Every game. Archives.
$349.99 (early bird)
$399.99 (after 10/19)
Team Pass – One team. Every game. Archives.
$149.99 (early bird)
$199.99 (after 10/19)
Away Pass – One team. Away games
$99 (early bird)
$124 (after 10/19)
1 game – $6.99 per game
5 games – $6.49 per game
10 games – $5.99 per game
David LeNeveu is a goaltenders goaltender. Hard working, determined, smart, historically interesting — he’s a hockey coaches dream come true. Between breaking Ken Dryden’s shutout record at Cornell, and backstopping one of the best goaltending duos in recent American Hockey League history, LeNeveu seems like a player on the brink.
After an incredible season where he could easily have been a starting vet goaltender on nearly any AHL team, David LeNeveu suddenly became the forgotten man between the pipes. He has Yann Danis to thank for that. His numbers were good for a seasoned goaltender in the minors. His 34 games, nearly 2000 minutes, 810 saves, 2.24 goals allowed, and .918 save percentage were not only career highs, but were the best by any goaltender in the league under 40 games played. To say he was forgotten might be too strong. His impact on the Barons not only aided his team, but helped fellow netminder Danis become the guy that gets a second year contract extension, and the accolades of an entire franchise and league.
So what’s LeNeveu to do? Not having a contract in an NHL lockout year is going to become a very common theme amongst many players looking for roster spots. Such is the life in N. American hockey. Work stoppages are an all too common occurrence, and so are the underdog contracts.
The biggest issue for Oklahoma hockey isn’t the play on the ice. From a first season, first round playoff performance to a sophomore year Western Conference Final appearance, the game isn’t the issue. It’s not the players. High paid AHL All Stars, vet goaltenders with serious NHL experience, and youngsters primed for stardom, that’s not the issue. Instead, it’s the sell of the game. With two great seasons in the books, and a third likely blowing the door off any notion that Oklahoma City hockey is “minor”, the attendance on the Oilers farm needs to go up.
A trio of players named Jordan, Ryan, and Justin are here to hopefully help.
Over the course of the summer, the majority of AHL teams announced possible preseason matchups to hopefully wet the appetite of hockey fans when the season was still not quite within shouting distance. The two teams in the West who didn’t have at least two games scheduled officially were Houston and Oklahoma City. Being the deductive reasoner that most are it seemed inevitable that these two would again see each other in an exhibition setting.
Announced today, the Barons will face the Houston Aeros on back to back nights on October 5th and October 6th. Both are 7:00pm starts and admission is free with a donation made to the Infant Crisis Services of Oklahoma.
The official release:
Admission to both preseason contests will be free with a donation of goods or funds to Infant Crisis Services in Oklahoma City. Suggested donation items include sippy cups, baby bottles, new or gently used toys, Good Start formula, diapers, Baby Bath, baby shampoo, baby lotion, pacifiers and coats in sizes from 2T – 6. Fans are asked to bring their donations to the Cox Convention Center Box Office on the evening of the game. Donations will be accepted beginning at 5 p.m. each night. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Infant Crisis Services provides the basic necessities of life to more than 14,000 babies and toddlers in central Oklahoma each year. With the help of the community, Infant Crisis Services is able to supply life-sustaining formula and food as well as diapers and clothing for babies and toddlers in times of crisis.
“The decision to make the game donation-based serves many purposes,” said Prodigal CEO Bob Funk Jr. “It gives our fans a chance to connect with the players, our staff to connect with our fans and for both to give back to a fantastic community organization like Infant Crisis Services.”
Love the donation angle, coupled with the non-admission. But the curious angle here is the need for preseason games in an NHL lockout year. In most season starts, preseason games are played several days before the full NHL cuts are made. Some of the camp invitees aren’t cut by game one, they lace up, but most fully expect to be demoted when the higher ranked players head to the minors. This season is completely different. We’ll see the Nuge/Ebs/Schultz infused lineup out of the gate. The same goes for other teams, albeit less dramatic.
Huge h/t to Third Intermission, who has been talking about these preseason games in OKC long before the announcement.
It’s easy to see why the true die hard hockey fans don’t like fighting. It disrupts the play. Causes unwanted injuries. And it’s just kind of silly. I’m an old school guy in a new school world. I’m not afraid to admit it — I like fighting. It might be a senseless act in the hockey leagues in 2012, but to me it’s an icon of the sport. Something that sets it apart from every other major league sport in North America (UFC? Boxing? Different animals).
I’ll not convince you otherwise because there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument. Instead, I’ll point you to the Alex Plante rage face picture on this post. Look at the sheer joy on the faces of Oklahoma City hockey fans. Sure it might slightly be an anebreiated crowd, but it’s a happy crowd. One that cheers fighting, the Barons, and the victorious warrior. Fight. On.
I’ll refrain from using that word. You know, the one about locks and being out. Thousands of words have been written this week about it, and quite frankly, it’s a dirty word at this point. One that I just simply can’t hear, speak, or write anymore. But it’s an important topic, especially for American League fans for many reasons. But the one aspect of the thing I won’t speak of is the fact that the jump is gone. I’m not talking about Magnus Paajarvi’s first stride, or about a Yann Danis high chest save, rather I’m talking about the moment in time where a player jumps to the next level. Meaning, gone is the NHL promotion from the farm team to the parent club. Which makes for playoff+ types of teams that the AHL league hasn’t seen in quite some time.
Teubert, Paajarvi, Hartikainen, Eberle, Schultz, Nugent-Hopkins, Danis, etc. etc. are all here for the duration of the season (unless that thing I won’t speak of ends sooner of course). Either way, the game gets quick, stays quick, and ends quick. No callup. No promotion. No pay increase. Just good, old fashioned hockey — with little to no interruption. As the incomparable Kris Kross once said, “Wiggity, wiggity, wiggity, wack!”
How ironic a couple of months can make a moment. When Ralph Krueger was named the new coach of the Edmonton Oilers, there was Todd Nelson in the shadows. Many suspected that he’d be the first candidate after two very healthy minor league seasons with the Oilers seedlings. But fate landed him back in OKC at least for several more years. Then the lockout comes. Nelson, still the Barons coach, stumbles into the chance of a lifetime in the form of a couple of kids named Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Schultz. Three of the most glamorous Oilers prospects, all playing on the farm in Oklahoma. You’re welcome, Todd Nelson.
And last night, Dan Tencer mentioned a conversation he had with Coach Nelson. The conversation included hints of defensive combos, top end lines, and even power play options.