Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 8

Antler Banter is back with a few stories from the AHL this week as the off-season is upon us and the news slows. With teams moving to California, Manitoba, and Newfoundland, the news from these locales should start heating up as they set up their respective franchises, but it's still early for major personnel decisions to be made. There was one California-based AHL team who named a coach, though, and we'll look into his history to see what the future may hold for that franchise. Two teams announced a unique training schedule and location for next season, and there are some smaller stories that the Banter will touch upon in this piece. Let's get rolling on another entry of Antler Banter!

Barracuda Man

It was announced on Friday that the San Jose Barracuda have a head coach as Oakland, California native Roy Sommer was given the reins for the newly-located franchise. Sommer is no spring chicken in the AHL as he holds the AHL record for most games coached at 1344, and trails only Fred "Bun" Cook's 636 wins with 617 of his own.

"Roy's career statistics and track record speak for themselves and the Sharks organization will continue to benefit from his efforts working with our prospects and preparing them for the NHL," Barracuda GM Joe Will said. "We are excited that Roy and his staff can bring some continuity to this franchise's transition to the west coast and build off the successes they had last season."

The 58 year-old has spent his entire career with the San Jose Sharks' AHL affiliates in the Kentucky Thoroughblades (1998-2001), Cleveland Barons (2001-06) and Worcester Sharks (2006-15). Sommer has led San Jose's AHL affiliates to six 40-win seasons and three division championships in his 17-year career thus far, and looks to continue to build on successes seen in Worcester.

I like this (re)hiring of Sommer for the Barracuda, and it should bode well for the Sharks. Sommer has a long track record of players graduating to the NHL to go along with his impressive track record, and this gives the Barracuda a strong coaching staff to start their time in the California sun.

Another Promotion

The Detroit Red Wings announced that Pat Ferschweiler, formerly an assistant coach under Jeff Blashill in Grand Rapids, will join Blashill as an assistant coach in Detroit for the upcoming season. Fershweiler is a very good coach in terms of running the offence and power-play, and this should bode well for the younger players in Detroit as they will already be accustomed to his systems.

On the flip side, Todd Nelson loses a very capable coach in Grand Rapids. Nelson should be able to replace Fershweiler, but it means that the Griffins will most likely be learning all new systems for next season. We`ll see how that affects them out of the gates when the AHL season opens.

Partners In Hockey

The Syracuse Crunch will begin their training camp in Lyon, France next season after it was announced that the Tampa Bay Lightning had extended their partnership with the Lyon Lions hockey club into next season. Joining the Crunch in Europe will be the defending Western Conference Champion Utica Comets. Both teams will train in France and play preseason games there.

We've seen NHL teams affected by starting their seasons in Europe, so it will be interesting to see how the AHL teams perform once they get back to North American soil. The AHL plays less games during the week than the NHL does, but plays more three-games-in-three-nights weekends than the NHL does. Will the travel and jetlag affect the Crunch and Comets? We shall see.

It is cool that the Lightning and the Lions are partners to help grow the game in France. Kudos to the Lightning, Crunch, and Comets for turning hockey into a global sport a little more.

That's all for today as Antler Banter is feeling the summer slowdown. There will be more AHL news posted next week as it comes, so come on back for more Antler Banter!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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