BBG&CS: $$$, Concussions, Dryden, Indy Fuel, Goalie Equipment, Backups, Brulé & Commodore

Photo: Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt in his backup goalie gear while working his usual job as the Capitals Video Coach. (Photo courtesy of the Capitals)

Thanksgiving is now over and for the past three days we have turned to that great post-Thanksgiving tradition of creative ways to make use of all of the leftovers. Today, Sunday’s brunch will be turkey hash! (I love hash and yes, it works well with turkey believe it or not! Comfort food at its best.) Meanwhile, in the hockey world a great deal has been happening the past week — team valuations, concussion lawsuits, Canadian TV deals, a new ECHL team, more on goalie gear changes, interviews and lots of talk about Gilbert Brulé’s recent signing(s)!

| Forbes has released their annual list of NHL’s Most Valuable Teams, and if you are wondering, yes, the lockout was very good to the NHL!

“The average NHL team now has an enterprise value (equity plus net debt) of $413 million, 46% more than a year ago.” via Mike Ozanian, and the full coverage of Forbes The Business of Hockey, and the NHL’s Richest Local Television Deals.

| Add to that the NHL’s most recent Canadian television deal with Rogers Communications:

“The 12-year agreement, announced jointly by the NHL and Rogers in a Tuesday morning press conference, is for $5.232 billion (Canadian). It’s the largest media rights deal in NHL history and one of the largest media rights deals in Canadian history. It is also Canada’s largest sports-media rights agreement.” via

| And what exactly does this all mean for the NHL, including U.S. teams you ask? Oh, a great deal!! And if you think the owners did not realize this prior to the lockout, you’ve been hiding under a bush:

“Total HRR had grown from $2.2 billion to $3.3 billion in the seven years between lockouts. The league expected to generate $1 billion more in national revenue over the next three years, with things like outdoor games and, oh, let’s see, a new Canadian TV contract. The owners would split that 30 ways.” via Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Yahoo Sports.

“It means your team will get an infusion of cash, with the Canadian clubs getting a little extra to make up for regional games that will no longer have blackout protection. […] While there is nothing firm for 2014-15, a couple of NHL general managers said they expect the cap to be close to the $70.2-million figure from the lockout-shortened 2013 season (Don’t forget there is a clause in the new CBA allowing for a five per cent “escalator” on the initial figure and only once in the previous deal did it go unused). Last summer, those same GMs said they’d been told to expect an $80-million limit in the not-too-distant future. Now, depending on outdoor games, a World Cup and the fact the annual media rights fee grows toward $500 million per season, I can’t help but wonder if we’re looking at an even higher number very soon. That’s really something.” via Elliotte Friedman,

| Also this week, a group of former NHL players filed a class-action lawsuit against the NHL over concussions. Regardless what you might think, pro or con, I hope that this will be the much needed push for more precautions against concussion injuries in the NHL:

“Three years ago, Hockey Canada held a concussion seminar in Montreal. The participants received a packet that included a welcome letter from Ken Dryden, the Hall of Fame goalie and member of parliament. Dryden wrote about how we think back on the past and wonder why we could have been so wrong. He went from slavery to smoking to sports. Why did football and hockey players go so long without helmets? Why did hockey goalies go so long without masks? He wondered what people would think in 50 years about how we have handled head injuries.” — via Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports.

| Stu Hackel’s brilliant interview with Ken Dryden, talking about the 30th anniversary of the greatest hockey book ever written. If you have never read it, buy a copy NOW!

The Game, by Ken Dryden, has never gone out of print for good reason. It connects the reader with professional hockey players as few books have ever done by revealing that which is universally human in them, showing their strengths alongside their vulnerabilities and placing them within the context of a superior but sputtering team striving in a common effort to maximize their potential.” via Stu Hackel, Sports on Earth.

| Welcome a new team, the Indianapolis Fuel to the ECHL!

“Indianapolis will play its home games at the Fairgrounds Coliseum, a 6,145-seat building located on the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Coliseum was originally constructed in 1939, and is currently in the midst of a major renovation which began on Oct. 29, 2012.” — via

| And how’s the new goalie equipment changes working out?

“They were trying to get more goals, but maybe goalies are faster now,” said Jonathan Bernier, the Leafs netminder, flashing a devious grin. James Reimer, Bernier’s co-worker in Toronto, is certainly of the belief that he’s faster in his shaved-down gear, although he’s not particularly convinced the change has anything to do with his being on pace for a career-best season. “As much as it makes you quicker, it makes you less big, too,” Reimer said.”  — via Dave Feschuk,

|Speaking of goalies, how about this backup goalie for the Washington Capitals?

“Caps video coach Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt has served many roles with the team. He’s been the video-web guy, back-up goalie, DJ, video coach, crash-test-dummy, and during Friday’s 3-2 win against Montreal, back-up goaltender at the same time as being video coach.” — via Ben Summer, Capitals Outsider.

| Gilbert Brulé — KHL, Coyotes, KHL, Coyotes — you decide!

“2005 6th overall pick Gilbert Brule agreed to terms on a 1-year deal with Mike Keenan’s Magnitogorsk #Metallurg of #KHL” — via Igor Eronko ( (November 25th)

“Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney announced today that the Coyotes have signed forward Gilbert Brule to a one-year, two-way contract. As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.” — via (November 30th)

| Fascinating interview with Mike Commodore who is now playing for KHL’s Admiral Vladivostok, a million miles away from Canada. He talks about everything from growing up a Flames fan, to his problems with the Blue Jackets, playing in the AHL, and hockey in Russia:

“Scott Arniel played pro hockey a long time at the NHL and AHL level. Scott Arniel didn’t think he was paid enough for the time he put in. He didn’t like guys that weren’t married. Because in his words “I wish you guys had a wife and kids when you came to the NHL so you know how much they cost”. He actually said that in a meeting. So needless to say if you were single with no kids (which I was and am) and you were making good money (I was the highest paid defenseman in the organization) you were in trouble. Big trouble.” — via Hermy11, The Breakdown.


– 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.  –

BBG&CS: OKC Transactions, Sunday Long Reads, Cornet, Hovinen, Sabres, Stars & Cowboys

Thanksgiving week is upon us and we are expecting some light snow today, moving in from the southwest, so relax, grab that second or third cup of coffee and sit a spell.

| For those of you who are a bit lost with the OKC Barons recent transfers, here is the list of November’s 32 transfers through this morning Nov. 24th. Yes, they’ve been busy with transfer paperwork. Normally the team announces transfers with a nice brief article … but we haven’t seen one of those in a while. Some of the transfers are “paper” only, Arcobello’s transfer for instance, and some players merely “passing” through on their way elsewhere, Chet Pickard for instance. This season seems to be one where MacT has a quick “recall” and “send down” trigger finger. I’ve now lost track of how many veterans are on the team here in OKC — there are limits to how many vets can play on a given night, so expect to see a number of them up in the stands each game night. And YES — there ARE a lot of Goalies, Centers and Defensemen moving around the organization this month.

11/22/2013 Steve MacIntyre (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/19/2013 Jason LaBarbera (G) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/18/2013 Alex Lavoie (C) Oklahoma City DEL Released from PTO
11/18/2013 Curtis Hamilton (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/17/2013 Ilya Bryzgalov (G) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/16/2013 Alex Lavoie (C) Oklahoma City ADD Signed to PTO
11/16/2013 Mark Arcobello (C) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/16/2013 Oscar Klefbom (D) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/15/2013 Mark Arcobello (C) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/15/2013 Oscar Klefbom (D) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/12/2013 Corey Potter (D) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/12/2013 Taylor Fedun (D) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/11/2013 Ilya Bryzgalov (G) Oklahoma City ADD Conditioning loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/11/2013 Mario Lamoureux (C) Oklahoma City DEL Released from PTO
11/08/2013 Ben Eager (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/08/2013 Chet Pickard (G) Oklahoma City DEL Loaned to Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/08/2013 Chet Pickard (G) Oklahoma City ADD Signed to SPC
11/08/2013 Joel Broda (C) Oklahoma City DEL Released from PTO
11/08/2013 Laurent Brossoit (G) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/08/2013 Linus Omark (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/08/2013 Olivier Roy (G) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/08/2013 Roman Horak (C) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/07/2013 Justin Maylan (C) Oklahoma City DEL Released from PTO
11/05/2013 Linus Omark (LW) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/05/2013 Ryan Hamilton (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/04/2013 Taylor Fedun (D) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/03/2013 David Musil (D) Oklahoma City ADD Reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) from Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/03/2013 Martin Gernat (D) Oklahoma City ADD Reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) from Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/02/2013 Anton Lander (C) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/01/2013 David Musil (D) Oklahoma City DEL Reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) to Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/01/2013 Martin Gernat (D) Oklahoma City DEL Reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) to Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/01/2013 Philip Larsen (D) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)

— via

| has initiated  a new Sunday feature called “Sunday Long Read” which has been a very nice addition. This week Corey Masisak’s article “Sid vs. Ovi has defined generation” delves into the the long-standing rivalry between these two teams and players:

“With the city covered in two feet of snow, the teams played what will always be remembered in this area as the “Snowvechkin” game: a 5-4 overtime victory for the Capitals. Crosby scored the first two goals, and Ovechkin answered with a hat trick to help force overtime before Mike Knuble’s rebound at the goalmouth let Washington prevail.” — via Corey Masisak at And click here to read more Sunday Long Read’s.

| Two former OKC Barons players have been traded to new teams this week:

Philippe Cornet — Announced in [Nov. 22nd] AHL transactions, San Antonio Rampage have traded Cornet to the Charlotte Checkers in return for Adam Brace. All the best, Philippe!

Niko Hovinen — Metallurg Novokuznetsk has traded Hovinen to the Vladivostok Admirals. The road trips and airline mileage will be excessive for the Admirals, but I hear the seafood is fantastic there. Good luck Niko! — via ArtfulPuck.

| If you ever wondered what exactly a professional hockey equipment manager does, follow David Williams (@Hockeyequipmgr) of the Buffalo Sabres. His photographs will surprise and delight you with not only the facets of his job, but also the beauty of that side of the business:


| Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames November 14th game. Kari Lehtonen is a cool customer. 


| And just in case you were in hibernation last night, Oklahoma State (ranked 11th) beat Baylor (ranked 3rd) …. 49 to 17 last night in a very COLD college football game in Stillwater.


– 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.  –

BBG&CS: Ilya Bryzgalov — Lost in Translation

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you no doubt have heard the news that the Edmonton Oilers have signed Ilya Bryzgalov, the Russian goaltender who has been burlesqued, lampooned and ridiculed in the hockey media for the past three years. The hockey world as I’ve discovered is one in which a great many involved — teams, players, media, and fans alike — are very insular and even xenophobic on occasion. It is also at times a contradictory world of full-blown machismo and a “pour your heart out” mentality, which often lends further fuel to being lampooned.

Some of the reasons for Bryzgalov’s lampooning is his goaltending, but the rest is related to his own spoken words, which frankly and honestly, are very often lost in translation. Bryzgalov is a funny guy with great sense of humor, and he speaks from his heart, forthrightly, sharing a part of his soul, and wow, does he ever get beat up for that honesty and sharing. On top of all of that is the fact that English is not Bryzgalov’s first language, not to mention that he is Russian, which let’s face it, is an entire world away from North America culturally.

My advice for Edmonton fans and media this season is to focus on his hockey and the essence of his words and you will have a far greater understanding of this fellow. He is not your standard North American same old generic boring professional athlete’s quote, and in that respect he is a breath of fresh air. Terry Jones recently interviewed Bryzgalov following his signing with Edmonton and shared some nice quotes:

 | Regarding Bryzgalov’s short assignment in Oklahoma City in preparation for Edmonton:

“I am leaving in the morning. I think it’s going to be one week to get myself in good shape to go to Edmonton. I must play a couple games. If I’m not playing any games, I wouldn’t know what things to work on. Only the games show that.”

 | Regarding his preseason training with the Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL):

“Las Vegas was a great opportunity to work with the shooters. They shoot the puck on me. I couldn’t find any shooters here. I skate without the puck but I haven’t had any pucks shot at me in three weeks.”

 | Getting back to hockey and what he learned from his time in Philadelphia:

“It’s a good opportunity for me to play hockey again[….] You do more learning from the tough times you’ve been through. When times are difficult it forces you to think and do things you’ve never done. I learned a lot from these two years in Philly.”

| Bryzgalov’s reply to Jones when asked about Philadelphia:

“I just can tell you when the time right. I will write the book. You can read it then.”

 | Bryzgalov’s intent and hope about his upcoming season in Edmonton:

“I am looking forward to showing people about me. At the end of the year maybe you will make a statement about me.”

I am greatly looking forward to watching Ilya Bryzgalov in Oklahoma City for a few games. This will be even better than the entire Edmonton Oilers team coming to OKC. This season alone we have seen a nice group of NHLers come through OKC with their AHL teams: Manny Malhotra (Charlotte Checkers/Carolina Hurricanes), Aaron Rome (Texas Stars/Dallas Stars), Alexandre Bolduc (Chicago Wolves/St. Louis Blues) and now Ilya Bryzgalov. Welcome to OKC, Ilya! Удачи!


– 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.  –

BBG&CS: Calming Florida Beaches, Seth Jones, Chelios, Emery’s Craziness, & those sad Oilers

Cocoa Beach, FL (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

We are back to BBG&CS this week following my return from another road trip which, yes, included some hockey in Georgia and Florida, along with a lot of seafood and a few beaches. Can you seriously blame me for this break? Take a good look at that photo of the beautiful sand at Cocoa Beach, Florida. It was the end of October and warm enough to enjoy the water and soft white sand along the coast of Florida. I keep asking myself why I returned so quickly!

| Outstanding article on Seth Jones — I MUST get to a Nashville game soon to watch this kid play in person!

“Jones eyed this tangle in his path and, with his long arms, he smartly pulled the puck a few inches toward him and easily maneuvered to his left, deftly changing the shooting angle. In the same smooth motion, as Moen dove in vain behind him, Jones whipped the puck past Price’s stick, bulging the net.

Twenty-one thousand sat stunned. A manchild in enemy clothes had effectively ended the game. The entire sequence had taken all of five seconds, a complicated play made to look easy, something that a number of NHLers 10 years his senior could not have done.

Welcome to the NHL, Seth Jones.” — via Stu Hackel at Sports on Earth.

| Chris Chelios’ Lucky Break into hockey:

“The never-ending career of Chris Chelios never should have begun. At age 17 he tried to walk on a startup college hockey program in San Diego, of all places. He had mononucleosis. He got cut. If he was a prospect at that point, it was for a beer-and-pizza league. He was working, going to school, bumming around the beach.” — via Nickholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo! Sports. See also David Perron’s comment about Chelios below.

| Ray Emery’s crackpot beating of Braden Holtby:

“Holtby’s not the first player to get jumped and be an unwilling participant in a fight. But Holtby didn’t deliver a questionable hit. This wasn’t about retribution. This was about Ray Emery attacking a guy because he figured that’s what the locals wanted to see and because he’s terrible without the Blackhawks’ security blanket.” — via Greg Wyshynski at Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy. See also my opinion on this issue, Emery’s Debacle — A Sad Night for Hockey at ArtfulPuck; and see Gary Lawless’ tweet below about possible NHL rule changes related to this event.

| And for a much needed laugh …. Where’s Waldo? er, the Capitals?

| And what about those Oilers, folks?

There is a great deal of frustration at all levels of the organization all the way down to the fans, even OKC fans since the farm team is continually hit with reassignments. It’s part of the business, but it is hard to cheer when these farm boys are called up anymore. NHL games with the Oilers are not a great deal of fun at the moment. So, good luck to any callups (looking at you Fedun!) and the Oilers themselves, and may the future brighten considerably in the coming days, weeks and months. Something’s got to give, right? No, I’m not going to link to anything, I’ll just mourn them for a while, however, I will leave you with this calming moment … just listen to the soft crash of surf along the beach and feel the cool sea breeze against your face. Nice, isn’t it! — PT.

Sea Oats in sand dunes. Ponte Vedra, FL. (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)


– 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.  –

Iowa Wild Weekend of Hockey

Driving over eight hours to Des Moines for another team’s inaugural opening? You betcha!! It might sound a bit crazy, but the newly formed Iowa Wild — the former Houston Aeros — hold a spot dear in my heart as a fierce competitive rival of the OKC Barons for the past three seasons. Many of the players were familiar, but almost everything else has changed and that intrigued me, along with the Wild’s new coach Kurt Kleinendorst who will be fascinating to follow this season.

From Oklahoma the trip led me north on I-35 straight up the Kansas Turnpike to Topeka through some spectacular stretches of tall and short grass prairie. From Topeka the  journey took a quick jog dead east over to Kansas City, Missouri and then straight north to Des Moines. As the miles tick off you pass acres and acres of cornfields – and now in October the fields are dried and brown, crisp and brittle in the brilliant Fall sun. And as you will see from my photos below, I took a short trip off of I-35 to visit Madison County, famed for their covered bridges and for Winterset, the birthplace of Western film legend John Wayne. It was well worth the time and the off-road dirt on a clean vehicle.

Opening night of the Iowa Wild team’s inaugural season was everything I could have imagined — pyrotechnics, loud music, and a pumped up enthusiastic crowd of more than 10,000 in the large, modern Wells Fargo Arena. Talking to fans seated around us, there was a nice mix from Iowa’s home town of Des Moines and Minneapolis, just a short drive north. Minneapolis Wild fans are close enough to easily attend one of their farm team home games and they were incredibly happy to have the team nearby after all these years. And while it is always sad to see a fanbase lose a team — Houston Aeros fans are heartbroken over the loss of their team — Iowa Wild fans have welcomed the team with open arms and great respect.

I would return to Des Moines in a heartbeat to watch the Wild in action once again to see them face one of their new northern division rivals. The arena is excellent, the fans hospitable and welcoming, and the city of Des Moines offers numerous nice restaurants and pubs in the downtown area. And I highly recommend a few side trips off the interstate on your journey north! As a firm believer in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote “Life is a journey, not a destination,” a journey, even to a hockey game, has infinite possibilities.

Next up, a roadtrip to the southeast with sunshine, seafood, beaches and don’t forget the hockey! Yes, there’s hockey in Florida!

Neal’s recaps of the weekend’s games:

Saturday, October 12, 2013 —  OKC Barons 0 – 1 Iowa Wild

Sunday, October 13, 2013 — OKC Barons 4 – 2 Iowa Wild



Iowa Wild – OKC Barons Weekend

This weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, the Oklahoma City Barons will face the Iowa Wild in back-to-back games opening the Wild’s Inaugural season in Des Moines. Not too long ago the Barons themselves experienced this very same hockey birth back in October of 2010 so it feels appropriate that the Barons share that honor with the Iowa Wild since the Wild were previously our old nemesis the Houston Aeros for the past three seasons.

Follow along with me as I savor this weekend in Des Moines — catch me on Twitter at @Artful_Puck and also over at my blog ArtfulPuck as I begin my first hockey road trip of the season. My pre-trip installment can be found over at ArtfulPuck — Hockey Road Trip: Iowa Wild Inaugural Weekend.

The Iowa Wild now plays in the Midwest Division with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, and will meet up with the Barons only four times: two back-to-back games at the beginning of the season in Des Moines, and two back-to-back games in OKC at the end of the season.

Sat. Oct. 12 OKC Barons @ Iowa Wild 7:05 pm CDT
Sun. Oct. 13 OKC Barons @ Iowa Wild 4:05 pm CDT
Fri. April 18 Iowa Wild @ OKC Barons 7:05 pm CDT
Sat. April 19 Iowa Wild @ OKC Barons 7:05 pm CDT


Some of the Iowa Wild players you might recall from last season’s Houston Aeros:

  • G – Darcy Kuemper
  • D – Corbin Baldwin
  • D – Brian Connelly
  • D – Tyler Cuma
  • D – Steven Kampfer
  • D – Kyle Medvec
  • F – Brett Bulmer
  • F – Jake Dowell
  • F – Kris Foucault
  • F – Erik Haula
  • F – Carson McMillan
  • F – Zack Phillips
  • F – Chad Rau
  • F – Jason Zucker

I am a big fan of the Wild’s new coach Kurt Kleinendorst and he will be fascinating to watch as he coaches the Wild in the Western Conference this season. Sadly, the Barons no longer face the Wild (as the former Houston Aeros) in their West Division, but there’s nothing more exciting than traveling to a new city for a weekend of hockey!

A late development that might affect the Iowa team this weekend is that the Minnesota Wild have called up Darcy Kuemper since Niklas Backstrom is still recovering from a knee-injury he suffered in Nashville earlier this week.

Josh Green signs with Tappara in SM-liiga

Former OKC Barons Captain Josh Green alluded to something brewing for his hockey season earlier this week and this morning he tweeted that he was joining Tappara (Finnish for Battle Ax), located in Tampere, Finland, a team in the Finnish Elite League:

Congratulations Josh!

OKC fans will recall that Antti Tyrvainen is also playing in the SM-liiga this season with Jokerit Helsinki.

Arcobello’s Night

(Photo: Courtesy of Steven Christy. All Rights Reserved.)

In an otherwise dreadful Edmonton Oilers’ game where they were trounced and then mauled 6-2 by the Vancouver Canucks, Mark Arcobello made a good showing for himself last night. Cult of Hockey’s Bruce McCurdy had this to say about Arcobello in his Player Grades segment:

#26 Mark Arcobello, 6. Among the best of the Oil on this night, leading the team in both attempted shots (7) and, surprisingly, in hits (also 7). 4 of those shots were on goal, including Luongo’s best stop of the night when Arco was sent in by Eberle. I liked his smarts with the puck and his energy without it. Oilers outshot Vancouver 8-6 when he was on the ice, the only player on the team with this distinction.” — via Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey

Well done, Mark.