Every season the morning of the American Hockey League All-Star Game the media gathers in a room with AHL President Dave Andrews to discuss the state of the league. Some seasons there’s a lot to talk about with teams in financial troubles, team movement or affiliation changes but there really wasn’t any of that this year. It was a short 40 minute meeting.
Here’s a quick run down of topics discussed:
You can also listen to the audio:
For the past few years it’s seemed like a struggle behind the scenes to find a host city for the All-Star game but going forward they expect to announce next years city in the coming weeks and even have plans for years going forward. Ted Black had mentioned recently that they’d love to see the game back in Rochester but next year will NOT be the year. It’s something the Amerks would like to host again at some point. There’s a lot of time and money that goes into hosting the event which is why AHL cities aren’t exactly begging for the game. Not every team has a large office staff to handle the logistics. The need for a sponsor is also required and given the economy that’s not easy either in small cities.
I brought up Rochester asking about a move to the Eastern Conference and the overall health of the Amerks/Sabres reconnecting. There are no plans to move Rochester to the Eastern Conference, not even a hint. All 30 teams are expected to stay in place for next season which is rare. Attendance is also up (I believe over 50%) in Rochester and Andrews simply said, “The Sabres belong in Rochester.” The league is extremely happy with Terry Pegula purchasing the Amerks. I’d like to also note that the league was happy with Curt Styres as well when he was the owner.
The fact that 30 cities will be retaining their teams next season also shows that things are going well in the AHL. It’ll be different next year though with the Phantoms expected to move to Allentown for the 2013/2014 season.
Andrews also mentioned that as of right now there aren’t any teams more than five points out of a playoff position. Everyone would love their team to be playing better but no one is “out of it.”
A video replay system is currently being tested in Bridgeport and the Board of Governors plans to vote this year as to whether or not to implement it. They believe they have a great system in Bridgeport but since they’ve put it in they haven’t had a disputed goal to really test it out. One of the concerns is the cost to benefit of a replay system. It’s a financial investment for teams and they said that 70% of the goals everyone thinks should be disputed aren’t disputable. It’s also not as simple as buying a couple of camera’s to put above the nets. They need those but they also need to be able to record sounds to get the whistle from the ref and also have the time clock embedded in the video. They’re closer than ever to getting video replay but it doesn’t seem as if it’s a number one concern.
The league has a plan to have every game officiated by two ref’s and two linesmen within five years. The NHL is helping to cover the costs of the additional referee and one of the reasons for the five year plan is the lack of referee’s available. We all know that some of the ref’s right now are questionable so trying to find another 15 or more isn’t an easy task. So, if you’re looking for a new career or career choice this could be one for you!
I asked about “head shots” and Andrews said that every Rule 48 penalty called in a game is reviewed by the league. The league was reviewed between 30 and 35 calls. He said that concussions are an issue but it has more to do with the speed of the game and not hits to the head. He also mentioned that more concussions seem to happen during practices. Before the season started the league met with Shanahan so they could all be on the same page in terms of discipline. Andrews also mentioned that the league has consulted with Shanahan on some reviews.
The schedule is always an issue and Andrews spoke the truth when he said, “No one is ever happy with the way we do our schedule.” The league understands fans want more variety but it all comes down to business costs and travel. They have a limited amount of prime nights to work with.
The league also expects more outdoor games in the future. The games are a huge financial risk and undertaking but the games are also proving to be quite profitable. If the talks are true of Detroit hosting a game next season I’m sure the AHL will try and get a Griffins game on the schedule as well (assuming it to be against the Marlies).
That’s it from the state of the league this season.