There is no denying the Rochester Americans have been in a long slump and have barely been holding on to second place in the North Division for some time now. Fans have read about and witnessed the poor play for themselves, heard excuses comments from the coaches and players, but have questioned whether or not anyone is going to do anything about it.
We know that Curt Styres, Lewis Staats, Ted Nolan, Jody Gage and everyone else in the office cares about the success of this franchise but what can they really do on their own? Not all that much, which brings up the question was recently raised by Kevin Oklobzija, If the parent team doesn’t care, why should the players?
I asked Ted Nolan on Sunday afternoon if they have talked to the Florida Panthers about what has been going on (the slump and possible reasons for it) in Rochester and he gave a quick answer of yes. He said they’ve been on the phone and talked a lot of what’s been going on. He didn’t provide any other details about whether or not any changes or help will be provided, but he did express that they are in communication.
Bill O’Flaherty, Director of Pro Scouting for the Florida Panthers was at the Amerks game on Saturday night to watch the game so someone from the Panthers was here to witness this team meltdown late in a game, a common theme of this season.
The Amerks 2,000th franchise win on Sunday versus the Portland Pirates could be a game the team can build off of but the same thing was also said about a Saturday win the week before prior to a three game losing streak. With only 21 games remaining there’s a big gap between the Calder Cup contenders a lot of people thought the Amerks were early in the season and the team that is playing now.
Some will say that a team going from two of the worst seasons in franchise history to even making the playoffs is an accomplishment. This team was not built to just make the playoffs though, it was made to try and make a run for the Cup.
The Democrat and Chronicle recently had this quote in the paper, “Curt put a lot of time and a lot of energy into this team,” Nolan said. “We’re not just going to sit and watching things slide.”
To fans, it appears they have done just that. What fans would like to hear is that they (Amerks management) are upset that the Florida Panthers have done nothing and have not been around to take note. In trying to keep a good business relationship they’re probably trying not to rock the boat and create a riff between the two sides.
It could be that patience is the key and everything will work itself out. Unfortunately, if we look back to last season there was a similar situation when the Amerks season started out horribly the comments from Jack Birch was that the team had not even played 20 games yet. Around the 20 game mark they went out and signed Mike Brodeur to help out in goal, but it was too little too late. The season was lost and the Amerks were never able to climb out of the basement. All we have to do is hope that the Amerks don’t slip into fifth place and out of a playoff spot before the Panthers take notice and try to make some changes or adjustments.
Ending on a positive and optimistic note, maybe patience really is the key and the players and coaches will turn everything will turn around and the remaining 21 games will include another long winning streak. The return of Mike York to the lineup could help do just that. We’ll see on Friday night when the Amerks try to win their first Friday home game since November 27th when they host the Grand Rapids Griffins who are currently in last place in the North Division.