Anton Lander Up, Magnus Paajarvi Down

AHL Hockey: Jan 13 Barons vs Stars
Photo courtesy of Steven Christy.

Announced this afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers have recalled Anton Lander to supposedly replace the neck-injured Shawn Horcoff. In the same transaction, they’ve returned Magnus Paajarvi to the Oklahoma City Barons.

Here are the tweets:

What’s interesting is that the Oilers needed a true centerman, and they’ll get that in Anton Lander. But in the meantime, they sacrificed a guy that plays on the PK in Magnus Paajarvi. While I understand that Lander gives you both of those things, the team is indeed playing the San Jose Sharks whom are really really good at scoring on the PP. So it will be interesting to see how this goes down.

In the meantime, the Barons play in a little over three hours. And we might get a good look at Magnus Paajarvi in at least one game this weekend. Neat.

Workin’ For The Weekend: Charlotte x 2 “How Soon Is Now”

The Smiths
The Smith’s inspire this week’s ‘Workin’ For The Weekend’.

The most ear-popping track in The Smiths wonderful catalog will always be “How Soon Is Now”. The single has been dubbed the “Stairway To Heaven” of the 80’s, and perhaps that’s a bit overzealous. Regardless, this will always be considered one of the greatest singles of the 80’s as the band laid down a foundation for alternative rock of the future.

Although it was presented as a b-side, “How Soon Is Now” is haunting, lyrically simple, and altogether a great representation of the band from Manchester. Politically charged at times and never free of some kind of criticism, the combo of Marr and Morrissey hit their stride beautifully in this triumphant soundscape.

The lyrics were simple yet very personal. “I am human, and I need to be loved.” True. “Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar”. Been there. “I go about things in the wrong way.” Who hasn’t. And thus it’s a song about awkwardly falling in love (a theme that works mightily as we get closer to Valentine’s Day).

Doing things wrong. Being shy. The need for love. All beg the question, “How Soon Is Now”? Perhaps a confusing question, but one that I’d ask any struggling hockey team to pose upon themselves. Doing things right. Being proactive. The need for wins. I’ll bite, “How Soon Is Now”? Not soon enough.

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No Danis (Yet), Pitlick On Crutches, Hovinen First Look

Tyler Pitlick Back Dark
Tyler Pitlick On Crutches, Boo. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy.

Good friend of the blog, Eric Rodgers, is at Barons practice today where the team prepares for a Thursday/Friday meet and greet and beat with the Charlotte Checkers. Via Eric:

No Danis as of yet. Hovinen and Roy in nets. Pitlick on crutches, watching practice

The fact that Danis is yet to arrive or is unavailable to practice means one of two things. Either he simply hasn’t arrived yet, or the Oilers indeed have carried him over to San Jose “just in case”. However, after clearing waivers you’d imagine the team would be obligated to send him immediately to Oklahoma City. Perhaps the Oilers found some wiggle room, so to speak, and he’s simply in transit to the Sooner State.

Tyler Pitlick on crutches is a sight worth sighing about. Now that he’s done for the year, he’s suddenly a full 1/2 season behind in the prospect race. This, ironically, is coming at a time where he desperately needed to turn some heads, make some noise, or whatever cliched terminology you use to explain getting better. Nonetheless, here’s to a speedy recovery and bounce-back off-season for Tyler.

Huge thanks to Eric for the quick update. Follow him on twitter @AHLBarons.

Kane Lafranchise Released From PTO

AHL Hockey: Jan 18 Barons vs Rampage
Photo courtesy of Steven Christy.

The Oklahoma City Barons officially announced the departure of defenseman Kane Lafranchise from his PTO this morning. Lafranchise was brought in to lend a hand to a wobbly group of Barons defenders as the team wrestled with NHL lockout and no NHL lockout. Last night via twitter he made the announcement that he’d return to the Alaska Aces immediately. Likewise, he thanks Oklahoma City for his chance.

Good luck to Kane!

Official Release:

The Oklahoma City Barons released defenseman Kane Lafranchise from his PTO, General Manager Bill Scott announced today.

Lafranchise, a 6-1, 195-pounder from Edmonton, Alberta has played each of the last three seasons with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. In 121 games with the Aces, Lafranchise has scored 60 points (7-53-60) while serving 40 penalty minutes. He skated in nine games with the Barons.

Prior to turning pro, Lafranchise played three seasons with the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Over those three seasons, he played in 97 games, scoring 33 points (9-24-33). He played two-plus seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In 119 games, he scored 55 points (19-36-55).

Yet Another Reason To Love Teemu Hartikainen

AHL Hockey: Nov 02 Barons vs Aeros
How great is this guy? Photo courtesy of Steven Christy.

You love Teemu Hartikainen. I love Teemu Hartikainen. Now persuade your friends to love Teemu Hartikainen. What a great, casually spectacular quote from the OKC favorite and Oiler prospect.

Read more about Hartikainen’s military service at Copper & Blue.

Yann Danis Clears Waivers

Yes, I’m an OKC Barons fan who has thought highly of Yann Danis the last 1.5 seasons. And, yes, I was fearful someone, somewhere would feel the same. Boy am I glad I was wrong. Danis clears waivers today, and likely heads to Oklahoma City (although some pointed to him traveling to Phoenix just in case Khabibulin isn’t ready).

Look for him to start against the Charlotte Checkers tomorrow night or Friday. Put the #DanisWatch hashtag to rest (for now).

Drug Testing In The AHL Forthcoming

We live in a world where attaining a competitive edge is often times synonymous with performance enhancing drugs. Taking this additive or that supplement immediately raises a red flag of suspicion and seemingly demands a public jury pointing a finger of blame in the direction of athletes whom we cherished only moments earlier. As time marches on, so does the complexity of drugs that “beat the system” so to speak. Unfortunately, this does real damage to competition and ultimately to the individual. Neither of which is tolerable.

The most recent NHL CBA enacted many things including drug testing of its players. This, according to AHL President David Andrews, will be paralleled in the AHL.

As archaic as it sounds, drug testing in North American pro hockey isn’t fully fledged out. At least not on a uniform, grand scale. That’s to change, as it should. The new NHL CBA calls for testing once during training camp, once during the regular season, and random tests throughout.

For American League teams this has a pretty serious monetary impact as well. Who pays for the test? Can we afford multiple tests in consecutive months? All are questions in need of serious answers. For now the answer is, “we are working on it”.

Via Citizens Voice (from Andrews AHL state of the league)

“Our players association and ourselves have been in agreement that we would like to see it happen, but we weren’t in a position to do it without the NHL’s support because we wanted to dovetail into their program,” Andrews said. “I have no idea how we’re getting there, but I know the NHLPA and the NHL have agreed to bring performance-enhancing drug testing into our league.”

‘Oil Change’ Debuts Tonight In Canada, US This Weekend

Oil Change Guys
Ch-ch-ch-changes! ‘Oil Change’ airs in the US this weekend.

Oil Change, the well-shot, well-oiled, and overly sensational tele-doc that is now in Season 3, airs tonight north of the border on SportsNet. Chronicling the life of the Edmonton Oiler as “change” occurs over the last two seasons has been fun to watch. However, there remains a bit of irony in naming a show “Oil Change” when very little has changed (in terms of the team improving). For the production company behind it (and the fans whom watch it), they are banking on this year to be different.

For those of us in the US, and primarily in Oklahoma City, the five one-hour segments of the show will heavily feature the time spent by NHL guys in the AHL. And thus you’ll see lots of Barons face-time. In the short promo, seen here, we get the “boys” biking through the Deep Deuce area of Bricktown, eating a local establishments, and Jim Byers vocal chords. While the rest of the OKC media often ignored the team, the Canadian film crew watched every move. And it will be interesting to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of how Prodigal/Barons handled the newcomers. Tune in.

Those in the US can catch Episode one of season thirteen beginning this weekend on the NHL Network. Here’s the schedule:

Saturday, February 2, 04:30 pm on NHL Network USA

Sunday, February 3, 12:30 pm on NHL Network USA

Wednesday, February 6, 08:00 pm on NHL Network USA

Sunday, February 10, 12:30 pm on NHL Network USA

All times eastern

Yann On Waivers, #DanisWatch Begins

Today the Edmonton Oilers announced that Yann Danis has been placed on waivers with the intent of sending him back to Oklahoma City. This, of course, causes one giant “SIGH” coming from the mouths of Edmonton Oilers fans whom fully understand that this announcement means that Nikolai Khabibulin must be ready and willing to go.

Yann Danis being placed on waivers was inevitable. But it comes at a time where the Barons have positioned Olivier Roy as number one and newcomer, Niko Hovinen as number two. This, of course, shuffles the goaltending group system wide. Where each piece fits in from the AHL to ECHL will be interesting.

It’s also worth noting that Danis might be a good fit within several organizations. I’d even suggest that his stock is higher now than that of Khabibulin in terms of the give and take you’ll get. Danis is free of drama, incredibly healthy, has had better seasons of late, and is fully capable of being a full-time number three or even a part time number two in a short season. His value, right now, is high. Everyone sees that except for the Edmonton Oilers who’ll play the oft-injured goaltender because they can (also thinking they should).

For now we wait. We wait to see if Yann is claimed, where he lands, and hold candlelight vigils in hopes that he returns to Oklahoma City where the team needs him, and he becomes a valuable asset within the Oilers organization.

Let #DanisWatch begin…

Marky Arc, Matty D, & More – The 2013 AHL All-Star Game

Photo courtesy of the AHL. All rights reserved.

Tonight at 6/7pm, the AHL All-Star Game takes place in Providence, Rhode Island. The American League, now 77 years old, has a love affair with the East coast, and thus the All-Star game takes place well to the right of the Mississippi River. And although I’ve yammered on and on about having this game played in the South (or even West), that’s unlikely to happen. Nonetheless, the game is full of good quality players. Some, of the prospect variety, others long tenured in the minors. But altogether interesting, and thus worth your time.

The obvious reason to tune-in to the game is for the lone Baron on the Western Conference roster, Mr. Mark Arcobello. Mark is an underdog by every stretch of the imagination. The Yale alum who went undrafted has made a living by impressing people who didn’t give him much time the first go round. To open the 2010-11 season he played with the Stockton Thunder before getting the call up to play with Oklahoma City the same season. He nearly averaged a point a game. Last season, he continued to dazzle notching 43 points in 73 regular season games, but more importantly 13 points in 14 playoff games. That brings us to 2012-13 where he played some time down the center with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall to his sides. That’s good company. He has steadily improved, and has continued to turn some heads, even suggesting that perhaps the “kid” get a shot in NHL training camp. That never happened, but the fact that he’s gone from ECHL to AHL to NHL “consideration” in under three years is quite remarkable.

Edmond, Oklahoma native, Matt Donovan, returns to the All-Star Game in his sophomore season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. After an incredible rookie season, his numbers in 2012-13 have been slightly lower, but his impact is just as strong. I interviewed him less than a year ago, and he’s an Oklahoman through and through. His dedication to being better, getting better, doing better is what the New York Islanders organization is looking for, and as far as defensive prospects go, he’s a pretty solid one.

It is nice to see Eastern Conference wingers, centermen, defenders, and goaltenders at least once a season. For those that don’t have AHL Live “Full Team” subscriptions, the chance to watch teams in the East is rare. This is a great opportunity to do just that.

Jamie Oleksiak from Texas. Justin Peters from Charlotte. Jason Zucker from Houston. Mark Cundari from Peoria. All are familiar faces to fans of OKC. They, along with many many others, will be able to show some skill, and likely prove a bit of Western Conference dominance along the way.

Dallas Eakins, coaching the team from the West, is likely close to no longer being an AHL head coach. His time in the minors is quickly dissipating  He’s done a marvelous job in Toronto, and he’s a coach on the radar of many many NHL teams.

What else are you looking for at the AHL All-Star Game? Let me know.

Full Broadcast Schedule Here

Fox Sports Southwest is carrying the game locally in Oklahoma City. Game starts at 6 Central time. (if the Stars game is on Fox Sports, I’d imagine the AHL ASG is one FoxSports Southwest PLUS).