24 Days Until Barons Hockey – Community

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

One of the real treasures of having a minor league team in your town is that you actually interact with the players, team, and staff. The Barons are no different. The league mandates via their CBA how many public appearances that the players can make, and the Barons max out those opportunities every season. Why? Because they embrace the community they entertain. If you visit the community section of the Barons page, you’ll see a brief synopsis of the community endeavors put forth by the team. Not mentioned are the support they give to active military, Oklahoma Blood Institute, and health/fitness endeavors. They really are a busy team.

The above photo, taken by the incomparable Rob Ferguson, is of Cameron Abney and Ryan Martindale playing Mario Kart. That, in and of itself, is a fantastic piece of imagery. But it was taken at a Barons Buddies event which pairs a Special Olympics family with an “adopted” player.

The organized play on the ice for the Barons is all about development. And one can argue that community involvement that takes place off the ice is equally as important in the development process.

AHL Live – What It Is, Isn’t, Should Be, & Can’t

These are tumultuous days to be a hockey fan. What to do when your league of extraordinary gentlemen gets locked out for the third time in a relatively short span? And for reasons that could’ve been negotiated sooner, and with more cordial results. Any way you slice it – 1,3,6 months – the National Hockey League is in dire straits, and so fans look onward and upward for replacements.

And the closest option, in terms of interest, will likely come from an attentive eye towards the AHL farm teams. And that’s a great replacement for NHL fans needing a dose of puck. But how do you watch your new favorite team play? I give you, AHL Live.

Important Note: The information below is based on the 2011-12 season pricing. I’ve purchased various packages for three straight years, and have used a healthy dose of Mac vs. PC and wired vs. wireless connections

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Eberle, Schultz, Nugent-Hopkins – Oklahoma City Bound

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.

It was inevitable that the full list of Oilers being waived, and thus re-assigned to Oklahoma City, would come today. With the CBA virtually dying out at midnight tonight, the slow sputter towards dispersement of players has begun. The list indeed was unfurled, and with high caliber names that everyone expected — namely Justin Schultz, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle. These three get the most attention because of their current NHL status, or seemingly NHL-readiness. Schultz, of course, was the big offseason get that was supposed to begin the era of better defensive posturing by the Oilers. Nugent-Hopkins, the first rounder with play making skills heralded by some as one of the best-in-the-biz, had a sunny disposition heading into his second year as a pro. And, of course, Jordan Eberle. Nearly a point per game last season, a high-end contract extension (that takes a hit post-lockout), and an Oilers favorite. All three instantly make the OKC Barons a more potent squad.

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BBG&CS: Krueger On Nelson, Mini Tanner House, Eb’s Girl

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

“Watch the OKC Barons win a Calder Cup Championship.” – via Artful Puck

“I wouldn’t say we’re eagerly anticipating a work stoppage,” Andrews said this week. “The best interests of the sport are served by the NHL playing. But if it comes to that, we will enjoy significantly greater media coverage in North America and Europe and more television exposure in Canada and the United States. It creates revenue opportunities we don’t normally experience.” – via Vancouver Sun

“As far as what he’ll do during a lockout, Eberle told The Edmonton Journal this: “I really am taking this day-by-day … I can pretty much pick up and go anywhere. I have no girlfriend, no family.” – via SportsNet

“If there is another lockout, he will hang on to star defenceman David Musil, who has been signed by the Edmonton Oilers and was going to their camp. Toigo doesn’t expect attendance to swell until November or December, “when people really start to miss their hockey.” But long term, he says, labour strife “doesn’t help hockey in general. “It turns people off the game.” – via The Province

“It’s expected that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, because he played in the NHL at 18, would be going to the AHL if there’s a lockout. Defenceman Justin Schultz, signed as a free agent this summer, will definitely be going to the Barons.” – via National Post

“I didn’t miss it because I’m really not a pro hockey fan,” said Gary Weiss, a vacationer who lived in Boston for 30 years before moving to Oklahoma two years ago. “I’m a college hockey fan. I just feel loyalty to BU because I want them to beat BC, but I don’t have loyalty to the Bruins. For some reason pro hockey never sunk into my brain.” – via Portland Press Herald

“They’re kind of caught in no-man’s land,” Lombardi said to The Times.” – via LA Times

“And then this. Another lockout. Another example of a sport that can’t break free from its cycle of labour strife.” – via Hockey News

“Would he lug his own equipment bag, sometimes playing three games in three nights for a chance to play with the Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers’ AHL affiliate? Maybe, even if he has already played two NHL seasons and is one of the league’s rising stars. The Oilers would want him playing in Oklahoma City in a perfect world, but it’s Eberle’s call.” – via Edmonton Journal

“It’s 100% Todd Nelson’s responsibility. Maybe [GM] Steve Tambellini and I would like to be flies on the walls, but the relationship with Todd will be the same regardless of whether we’re playing [NHL] or not. It’s Todd’s team. He needs to find his way to be a winning team down there. We’re in agreement with how we want our players to grow. I’ll only be there in a support role,” said Krueger.” – via National Post

“One of the more intriguing “prospects” is Cochranite Taylor House, who’s older brother, Tanner, plays for the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League. Taylor spent last season in the B.C. Hockey League with the Trail Smoke Eaters” – via Cochrane Eagle

[box type=”note”]You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend. [/box]

28 Days Until Barons Hockey – Games

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

No, not the hockey games. I’m talking about the in-arena games that occur when the play is dead. Some consider it annoying, while others find it totally tolerable. The games going on when the game isn’t going on is hard to miss. Sumo wrestling men in their 50’s, pucks being chucked, t-shirt grabbing fans, shopping cart pushing teenagers, and whipped cream eating ice girls — you never know what you might get.

Some are zany and embarrassing, others skeevy and scary, but when the dust settles it’s about entertaining the masses. It may not be for you, but someone somewhere is enjoying it. Games.

Full Day Of NHL Waivers (With Barons Ties)

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

Four Oilers placed on waivers. None of them unexpected, and most of them already slated to play in Oklahoma City lockout or not. On a full day of NHL clubs waivering in preparation for the lockout deadline that takes place Saturday evening, the minor league hockey season begins to take shape. Alex Plante, Tanner House, Dane Byers, and Yann Danis make up the small group of waivered Oilers that could benefit from time on the farm. All but three are familiar with the system, and soon Byers will be emerged in 70+ games of Barons hockey.

There are questions as to why more aren’t on this waiver list, and there really isn’t an explanation as to why we haven’t heard about Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander, and around 15+ more players that might be eligible to play in Oklahoma City. And those announcements are likely coming, because there is no reason not to do just that. But remember, this is the Edmonton Oilers — they don’t do make copacetic decisions.

And many around the NHL unleashed only a smattering of players to the faux waivers, while others mass exodus’d anyone eligible, willing, and semi-ready. For a full list of players re-assigned to farm clubs before the Saturday deadline, visit the AHL.com news page today. It’s loaded with East and West teams and their NHL counterparts movements throughout the day.

More news is coming, and as it does check out Tend The Farm on twitter and facebook for timely updates.

Oilers Assign Three To AHL

The announcements regarding AHL re-assignments for NHL clubs, in preparation for a full blown lockout, have officially begun. Texas assigned 26 on two-way deals, as did Peoria with 24. But for the Edmonton Oilers, who seemingly bear to their own drum in situations such as this, have only announced three. Nothing official, mind you, but at least we get a partial list that will likely grow much larger in the next 12 hours.

Alex Plante, Yann Danis, and Tanner House all make the re-assignment list and all will be playing in Oklahoma City come mid October. As pointed out by a good friend, House didn’t need to clear waivers because of his contract type and also the lack of any NHL experience. Thus this seems like a partial list with more names coming quickly.

The Farm has you covered. Check back throughout the day.

UPDATE 12:37pm – Dane Byers on the list as well per Bob McKenzie and TSN staffers.

29 Days Until Barons Hockey – Youth

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

Untold stories. Sometimes the most important things go unreported, forgotten, and sometimes ignored. The truth is, sometimes those untold stories uncover greater stories. And that’s the travesty of it all. Ignored when they should be boldly discussed.

Youth hockey in Oklahoma is not a new enterprise. But it’s success and strength are rapidly increasing. Regional championships, solid player development, and heightened awareness in a non-hockey state — all are happening in our own backyard. And if you blink, you might miss how important this truly is.

With the still-new-Barons playing each Fall/Winter, the excitement for youth hockey continues to bubble. So as we charge towards a new AHL season, we willfully can choose not to ignore the youth of our city who actively pursue competition, comradery, and fun all in the name of hockey.

30 Days Until Barons Hockey – Fans

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

As we embark on the countdown (and who doesn’t love a good countdown), let’s think back on the year that was Barons hockey 2011-12. There were many highlights. Many late game heroics. Many stretches where I found myself wondering, “Will this team ever lose two in a row?”. And during that time the faithful fans have enticed players along through *thick and thin. They aren’t an overwhelming swarm nor even a middle-sized majority. The true faithful Barons fans are a small, tight-knit, and well meaning group. They love hockey when no one else around them can describe a blue line (it’s blue, duh).

So, on this the first day of the countdown, I salute the fans. The ones whom make Barons hockey a truly great minor league sporting event. Your snark, support, and supplemental happiness are a treasure to your city…and to this author. Well done.

*WARNING: There will be cliches, over-used phrases, and snark in the countdown. You must be this tall to participate.

NHL & NHLPA Preparing Minors For Lockout

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.

Reported by RDS earlier this week (although nothing solidly reported by the AHL nor the NHL), the NHL and NHLPA have agreed on a special pre-lockout waiver period. It basically means that players on a two-way contract will be allowed to play for their farm clubs without any threat of re-entry waivers if the NHL season eventually begins (as long as they make the decision prior to the September 15th deadline). It’s neither earth-shattering nor unimportant, but somewhere on that sliding scale it’s a step towards preparing the minor leagues for the inevitable lockout we all hoped wouldn’t come.

And thus we move forward.

Jen Neale, from Anaheim Calling broke down the situation pretty well:

Why this is good: Young talent and newly signed journeymen will be able to learn the system, get to know teammates, and get back in hockey-shape before camp with the NHL club. They will get game experience. It may not be equivalent to the NHL, but there are more vets that will be there, upping the level of competition. Being able to bring players up, especially the top prospects, without having to put them through re-entry waivers carries no risk of the player being picked off by another team. It’s nice to see the players and owners agree on something.

Why this is bad: The usual stuff like injuries, more players not ready for the speed of the NHL when they’re brought back, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But the news doesn’t stop there. Vets on a two-way contract can be waiver exempt, but so can ELC youngsters. Jason Gregor at Oilers Nation dug up the details:

1. An earlier playing season waiver period (consistent with CBA section 13.2) shall be effective today, September 10, 2012, and will continue through and including September 15, 2012. Therefore, NHL Clubs shall have the option of Loaning any Waiver Player on or before September 15, 2012, provided that such Player has been properly Waived and has cleared Waivers prior to the time of the Loan.

2. If a Waiver Player is Loaned between September 11, 2012 and September 15, 2012 pursuant to the terms of paragraph 1 above, such Player may be recalled at any time up to and including the third day preceding the start of the Season without requirement of being placed on Re-entry Waivers, regardless of whether such Player would otherwise be subject to Re-Entry Waivers pursuant to the current or any successor CBA.

3. If a Waiver Player is loaned between September 11, 2012 and September 15, 2012 pursuant to the terms of Paragraph 1 above, and the Player is not Recalled (or is Recalled and subsequently Loaned) prior to the start of the 2012/13 NHL regular season, his NHL Club will be required to place such Player on Waivers again prior to the start of the 2012/13 NHL Regular Season.

It’s the same ruling to that mentioned in the RDS report, but more fully established. Either way, big decisions are to be made in the next couple of days for NHL clubs. It may also begin to look a little crowded on that Barons training camp roster.

More wonderous thoughts on this topic can be found at Oil on Whyte.