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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 5

Welcome to another entry in the revived Antler Banter series as we prepare for another Manitoba Moose season! Of course, the Moose aren't playing right now, but there are still two teams playing for the right to be crowned the Calder Cup champions, and we'll take a peek into that series and how the teams arrived at this point. There was a special announcement by the AHL today on how to view the series FOR FREE and I'll post the instructions here as well. I posted the information about Jason Jaffray looking for work a few weeks ago, and now it seems another former Moose favorite is looking for work after being cut loose by his team. There are some new positions that have opened up with the Moose, so I'll post links and information about those. An affiliation was extended, and an AHL coach is getting a promotion. There's lots to talk about on Antler Banter, so let's get rolling!

Finals Are Set

Two teams remain in the Calder Cup Playoffs, and the trophy will be hoisted in either the state of New York or New Hampshire at the end of this series. The Manchester Monarchs punched their ticket to the final after sweeping the Hartford Wolfpack in the Eastern Conference Finals while the Western Conference Finals between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Utica Comets went six games before the Comets advanced. Three of the six games were decided by a goal, including one that went into overtime, as the Comets advanced to represent the Western Conference.

The Calder Cup Finals starts Saturday, June 6 in Manchester, and there could be history made. If Manchester were to win, they would be the first team - as far as I can tell - to win a league championship before losing their membership to the league. As you may be aware, the AHL affiliate for the Los Angeles Kings will move from Manchester to Ontario, California next year, and the Monarchs will take over as the ECHL affiliation for the two teams. You can't really say that Ontario is the defending Calder Cup champions despite that actually being true because the Calder Cup, if Manchester wins, was won on the other side of the country!

Utica, playing in their second season as Vancouver's affiliate, almost fell into the same boat as the Monarchs as Vancouver mulled over moving their affiliate closer to home like, say, Abbotsford, BC. However, the Canucks ultimately decided that their affiliate in Utica would remain, so the Comets have a chance to win the first AHL championship in franchise history amongst the seven cities wherein this franchise existed.

At the end of this series, one franchise will win its first Calder Cup in its history regardless of where they play or the name of the team!

I Wanna Watch!

The AHL is going to allow you to do that if you have a desktop computer, an internet connection, and a few hours free to watch their product! Honestly, this is pretty cool, so kudos to the AHL for doing this. Here are the steps you need to take to watch the Calder Cup Final for free via your computer.
  1. Visit from a DESKTOP COMPUTER.
  2. Log in with your AHL Live account. Create one if you don't have one.
  3. Select the "Finals All-Access Pass".
  4. Enter the promo code: CALDERCUP.
  5. Watch the Calder Cup Finals via or through the AHL Live app.
You now have access to watch the Stanley Cup Final on your television and the Calder Cup Finals on your computer or via the AHL Live app. Possibly at the same time. Or whenever the games are played. Pretty cool move by the AHL to let everyone watch for nothing.

Veteran Defencemen Out

News broke on Monday that the Texas Stars were cutting ties with team captain and veteran blueliner Maxime Fortunus who Moose fans know very well. In 402 games with the Stars, Fortunus recorded 167 points. He played in two Calder Cup Finals, winning in 2014 and losing in 2010. He had been with the Stars since their founding in 2009-10, but he'll be searching for a new home after being informed he won't be re-signed to a contract. Dallas, it seems, is following the way of the Moose in going with a more developmental team as it appears that Winnipegger Derek Meech is on his way out too. Meech, of course, played with the Winnipeg Jets for a couple of seasons as well.

While I'm not faulting the Stars or Jets for making decisions to allow their young stars to carry a bigger chunk of the responsibility in the AHL, it's hard to watch true professionals such as Jaffray and Fortunus being pushed out of hockey because of age. Yes, I understand that the NHL is a business first and that youth is on display every night, but these men are professionals in every sense of the word and they deserve better than a "good-bye and good luck".

Good luck where ever you land, Maxime. You're still a hero in Winnipeg.

Help Wanted

The Moose aren't looking for veteran defencemen, but they are searching for a few key positions as they work towards the 2015-16 season in the AHL. If you're looking for a new opportunity, the Moose are hiring and everything I've heard about working for True North Sports and Entertainment is positive. I've never worked for them myself, but these opportunities are calling out to you. I know it.

The Moose need a Manager of Hockey Communications, a Manager of Community Relations, a Marketing Manager, a Ticket Systems Coordinator, and a Web Development Coordinator.

Personally, the Hockey Communications job sounds like it would be awesome, and the Marketing job would be cool as the Moose have a deep connection in the community. Honestly, any of the jobs would be great to have as working for the Moose would be a dream job. Follow your dream if this is yours and apply for one of these great jobs with the Moose and True North Sports and Entertainment!

Moving On Up

The New Jersey Devils' search for a head coach is over after they reached out to the Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Penguins and hired John Hynes. Hynes was the head coach of the baby Penguins for the last five seasons and will be reunited with Ray Shero in the Devils organization. Hynes becomes the 17th head coach in franchise history for the Devils, and the 40 year-old is promising a new kind of hockey in Newark for this coming season.

"I know that Ray and I worked really well together when we were in the Pittsburgh organization," Hynes told Evan Sporer of "I felt very comfortable as a coach coming in here, knowing the way Ray wants to do things, how he wants to run a team, what he expects from his coaches and his team, and to me that's really important."

Hynes certainly made his mark on the Penguins organization after leading the team to a 231-136-17 record and led the club to at least the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs each year. He was named as the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL's best coach in 2010-11 after leading Wilkes-Barre to a 58-21-0-1 in his first year behind an AHL bench.

New Jersey was looking for a winner, and they may very well have found him in Hynes.

Let's Go One More

The Washington Capitals and the Hershey Bears have agreed to extend their affiliation by another year through to the end of the 2015-16 season. This will mark the 11th season that these two teams have worked together, and the success the Bears have had in that time is unmatched.

The Bears have qualified for the playoffs in nine of the last ten seasons, won the Calder Cup in the first year of the affiliation in 2006, reached the Calder Cup Finals in 2007, and won again in both 2009 and 2010. While the Capitals have yet to hoist a trophy of their own, the Bears have sent a pile of players to the NHL in the last decade and have always been one of the AHL's cornerstone and model franchises. This extension will continue to see the success at the AHL level continue for at least one more season.

Check This Site Out

Ok, well don't check it out yet. Emilie Blum, wife of Minnesota Wild and Iowa Wild defenceman Jonathan Blum, is launching her new website tomorrow for your furry best friend! Emilie's new site goes live tomorrow, and they will carry a pile of products for your pup! Emilie has assured me there will be lots of neat stuff, so listen to The Hockey Show tomorrow to get the website URL! I'm excited for Emilie's new venture, so help her out by logging on tomorrow and getting your dog something neat from her new company!

That'll do it for today, kids! The Stanley Cup Final starts tonight, so tune into whatever network you have in your area that is carrying the game, and enjoy! The AHL Calder Cup Finals start Saturday, so sign up for AHL Live and watch that too!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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