As of 7/1/2015, this is what we know:
–The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Matt Taormina to a one-year, two-way contract. Here’s my article over at Raw Charge. Taormina is a very familiar face to Crunch fans, and is a welcome addition back into the fold. Taormina was ranked in the top 50 in a list of the best AHL free agents out there this off season, mostly due to his work on the power play with Worcester. During the 2012-2013 season, Taomina was a large part of the leadership core that guided the Crunch to the Calder Cup final. With JP Cote not returning to the organization, Taomina is a great pick up by the Lightning. He’s a player who already knows the system and has played under both Crunch head coach Rob Zettler and Lightning head coach Jon Cooper (when Cooper was coaching in Syracuse). He’ll be an easy lock for leader in the dressing room and on the ice.
–Forward Eric Neilson will not be returning to the Crunch in the fall. Brent Axe sums up why this sucks so much, even though it was probably the right business choice for the organization. Neilson was one of the most personable, gracious, and authentic people I’ve ever seen put on a Crunch sweater, and he did so much to further the brand and the mission of the team. He will be sincerely missed. I wish him all the best and all the luck in finding a new home.
–Bolt Prospects has projected both the Lightning roster and the Crunch roster so far (before the Taormina addition):
–Looking for everything that happened before free agency opened up? See our off season tracker.
One of the major players Crunch fans wanted to see locked up before July 1st has been re-signed by the organization, just before he was set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Welcome back, Captain.
LIGHTNING RE-SIGN FORWARD MIKE ANGELIDIS TO ONE-YEAR CONTRACT
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Mike Angelidis to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Angelidis, 30, skated in three games with Tampa Bay last season, recording 12 penalty minutes. He also played in 64 games for the Syracuse Crunch in 2014-15, recording 20 goals and 38 points while serving as the team’s captain. Angelidis ranked third on the Crunch for both goals and points, while leading the team with 138 penalty minutes. He has been captain of the Crunch since the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
The Woodbridge, Ontario native has skated in 10 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, posting one goal and 17 penalty minutes. Angelidis scored his first career NHL goal in his debut on January 24, 2012 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Amalie Arena.
The Woodbridge, Ontario native has played in 579 career AHL games with the Norfolk Admirals, Albany River Rats and the Crunch, collecting 119 goals and 245 points, to go along with 1,217 penalty minutes. In 2012 he was a member of the Admirals team that captured the Calder Cup Championship as the Lightning’s top affiliate, skating in 18 games and recording a goal and six points. Angelidis has played in 61 total Calder Cup Playoff games, notching five goals and 21 points.
My stance on this particular signing has been stuck to the top of my blog now for nearly two months. I desperately wanted Mike back. I truly felt–and still feel, 100%–that there is no other player out there who can come in and Captain this team any better than he can. I am so, so excited to see that Mike will be back for his fourth season in a Crunch uniform. I welcome him back with open arms.
And I am not the only one:
As of 6/30/15, this is what we know:
–Captain Mike Angelidis is back. I repeat, Captain Mike Angelidis is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Defenseman Joey Mormina will return to the Syracuse Crunch for his third season on a one-year AHL-only contract. Mormina had 19 points last year for Syracuse, and finished the season at a +1. Mormina should help fill the shoes of the departing Cote, who probably wanted a two-way contract. Tampa obviously wasn’t willing to pay what Cote wanted, but Mormina, who has been on AHL contracts for a while now, was clearly happy to take what they offered for a chance to stay with the organization. Our D core is looking awfully young, and Mormina’s AHL experience and leadership will go a ways to help that.
-Forwards Carter Ashton and Philippe Paradis have been issued qualifying offers. Ashton skated in 29 contests with the Crunch and totaled 14 points. Paradis suffered a season-ending injury and only skated in 34 contests with Syracuse, netting 15 points and 49 PIM.
-Cody Kunyk, Dan Milan, and Danick Gauthier were not issued qualifying offers by the Lightning and will become unrestricted free agents. Kunyk had a difficult time penetrating Syracuse’s depth chart this past season, even when it was so thin it was practically transparent. Milan and Gauthier spent the majority of their contracts with lower-league teams, only making the trek to Syracuse when called on.
-Forward Mike Blunden has been re-signed by the Tampa organization. Click that link for my story over on RC. Despite his md-season injury, Blunden still managed to end the year ranked 10th in overall scoring on the Crunch with 22 points. The loss of his presence was palpable in the Crunch’s confidence level and on the score sheet. This will be Blunden’s fourth season with the Crunch overall. He also spent part of two seasons playing for Syracuse during their Columbus Blue Jacket affiliation in addition to last season under the Tampa affiliation.
–Forward Vladislav Namestnikov has received a qualifying offer from the Lightning. I wouldn’t expect him back in Syracuse (which we already kind of knew anyway):
–Defenseman Luke Witkowski has received a qualifying offer from the Lightning. No word yet on whether he’s signed or not. Once he does, my assumption is that his waiver eligibility may have a large part in determining where he’ll be come fall, which is certainly difficult for a fan like me. I want him to have his NHL dream, but selfishly (I’ll admit it) I want him to be a part of my team, too. Anyway, it’s a relief to see he has his offer. Luke played 50 games for the Crunch this past season, ending with a +6, 8 points, and 91 PIM. He also played in 16 games for the Lightning, earning 15 PIM. hE was part of the Black Aces, a group of guys who were with the Lightning all the way until the bitter end. Mike Angelidis (no news on him yet…) and Jonathan Marchessault were also part of that group.
–The Lightning have re-signed forward Jonathan Marchessault to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2015-16 season. Marchessault played in two Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Lightning this past postseason. He also appeared in two games with the Bolts during the 2014-15 regular season, recording one goal on April 11, 2015. The goal was his first NHL goal. He played in 68 AHL games with the Syracuse Crunch this past season, ranking sixth in the league for assists with 43. My guess is that Marchessault will be on the Crunch’s top line and be first in line for any forward call up the Lightning will need. However, he’s also waiver-eligible this season, so that could make his transition back to Syracuse iffy. I really don’t think the Lightning will have room for him, but he might be valuable to another NHL team that does:
–Forward Brian Hart has been signed to a standard entry-level contract. It’s a three-year, two-way NHL contract. I assume Hart’s meant to make the jump to the Crunch this upcoming season. Bolt Prospects has a good analysis of his signing over at their site. From the Lightning’s release:
Hart, 21, skated in 37 games with the Harvard Crimson during the 2014-15 season, recording seven goals and 17 points. The Cumberland, Maine native ranked sixth on the Crimson for goals and tied for seventh for points. Hart has skated in 98 career games with Harvard over three seasons, recording 18 goals and 50 points.
–Crunch defenseman JP Cote will not be back with the organization next season. His two year contract is up, and the Lightning have chosen not to extend another offer to him. He’s been within the Lightning organization for the better part of four seasons. He was part of the Calder Cup winning team in Norfolk, and then spent the next three of those seasons in Syracuse (except for a month-long call up to the Lightning he rightly deserved in the middle of the 2013-14 season). He’s going to be sorely missed for sure, as both a leader and as a force on the ice, especially on the PK. His shoes are going to be mighty big for someone to fill.
–Crunch RFA Dalton Smith will not be qualified by the Lightning, so he will not be back next season. Smith played with the Crunch for all of this past season and 19 games of the 2013-14 season. He was part of a deadline trade to the Tampa organization in March 2014. Columbus/Springfield received Dana Tyrell and Matt Taormina in exchange for Smith and Jonathan Marchessault. In his time with Syracuse, Smith notched 13 goals, 7 assists, and 130 PIM.
It was announced this morning that the Tampa Bay Lightning is continuing their affiliation with the Lyon Hockey Club Lions and will be sending the Syracuse Crunch over to France again for their pre-season. This affiliation is in its second year.
Traveling to France–or any other country–is a unique opportunity for Lightning prospects and organizational hopefuls. Players looking at signing on with a club often see unique opportunities like this as an incentive. Sending the team overseas for pre-season also allows the club different bonding opportunities that might not be had during a regular AHL pre-season series. Last fall, the members of the Crunch who went on the trip were treated to a trip to Paris. This year, the organization will plan a similar outing somewhere in the country.
Read more over at Raw Charge!
Many of the people I know who are fans of a team and/or a sport got it from their fathers. I guess it’s a stereotype, but it’s maybe one of the better ones: men who enjoy sports often pass that love onto their children. Of course, that can be expanded to both parents, as loving sports is not just a male trait. However, today is Father’s Day, so my thoughts trailed to the male side of the family.
As my Twitter feed filled up with fans and players who thanked their fathers/father figures for the love of the game they enjoy and/or play, I found myself wishing for that same kind of bond with my own father. My dad and I share things, of course, but we don’t share sports. The most obvious thing we share is a sense of humor. Anyone who is around us for a bit will realize we tend to be able to make each other laugh with ease. My dad and I have never had much to talk about, but we speak Laughter quite fluently with each other.
However, my passion for hockey and the Crunch did not come from my father. My dad isn’t a fan of any “traditional” sports. He’s a car guy, and enjoys racing and learning about vehicles, but he doesn’t really show his fandom. He has very few pieces if NASCAR memorabilia, and doesn’t really seem to have a favorite driver. He mostly just likes the cars, not the people.
Given this, I think my dad is sometimes puzzled by the way I go about being a fan of the Crunch and of the AHL. Well, actually, I think a lot of people are – a trusted friend once described it as like being in an unhealthy relationship, and I’ve had others unblinkingly agree – but the way I do this fan thing is the only way I know how. Old timers of this blog know that I once threw my hands up and quit blogging …only to be back three months later. Whatever I’ve built here with Mike (and Dave and Eric – I guess I have to include him – and Ryan and Newport Rebel and our other contributors) is now wholly mine, and it’s evolved and changed in a lot of ways. I can’t help but have a level of pride in it and for it.
But, I realized something today. While my level of fanaticism might confuse and even worry my father a bit, everything I put into this can be directly traced back to him. The fan I’ve developed into stems from my dad, stems from the way he worked his job and the way he lives.
The more I think about it, the more proud I am that so much of what I do here is a reflection of him. He might not have given me my love for the Crunch, but he gave me all of the tools to help it grow. That, in a lot of ways, is almost more important.
My dad on being passionate
My dad joined the fire department when he was 21. He retired when he was 59. Firefighting was a lifelong career for my dad, and in a lot of ways his retirement from the department took a lot from him. My dad is still a very good man, but, in the way many people do when they retire, he changed. I think that leaving the department and losing that connection was harder than he thought it would be because, although he’d never describe himself as such, my dad was very, very passionate about his job.
I was quietly surrounded by firefighting memorabilia growing up. Plaques depicting firefighters saving people decorated some of our walls. Shelf decorations of the same were carefully dusted by my mom or myself weekly. I’m not saying our house was/is a shrine, but it was always an obvious part of the identity of our family. My dad never romanticized what he did – in fact, I think he downplayed it in an effort to steer me towards a less dangerous and less consuming career – but he was a firefighter much in the same way that I’m a Crunch fan.
At no time was this quiet passion and dedication more obvious than after September 11th, 2001. To be clear, we’re many hours away from New York City, and at no point was his department in any danger, although it did send people down to NYC to assist with the rescue effort. My dad was a candidate to go, being a deputy chief at the time, but he was (thankfully) not selected due his family life and the danger those going down faced. My dad never actually talked about it affecting him, but the day after the attack a picture taken by Thomas E. Franklin was unceremoniously placed on our refrigerator.
There were no long speeches or even quiet words about why he did it. My dad isn’t a man of words, at least not in this case. But that action said a lot.
My dad believed in what he did, was passionate about the job, and had a level of dedication to it that was very easy to see. I like to believe that I show that, too, in what I do for the Crunch. I learned those things from him.
My dad on being determined
My dad has an incredible level of determination. Just incredible. Some would probably describe it more as an obsession, while others might say it’s just stubbornness. But when faced with a challenge, a problem, or something not working right, my dad will figure out a way to fix it. He won’t stop, and although he might seek out advice or help, he will figure out whatever it is with a level of determination that I honestly envy (even when I also might find his fixation on fixing that one little flaw infuriating).
I often find myself a fan of hockey players who show determination. Guys who lead by example, guys who push forward through adversity, guys who get themselves noticed for their effort are the players I gravitate towards. My dad taught me that putting that extra effort in is worth it, and I appreciate players who think that way, too.
My dad on how promises are hard, but they’re worth making and trying to keep
When I was a toddler, my dad got called to a huge structure fire at a church on my birthday. He wasn’t working, but his group was called in as reinforcements due to the size of the building. I couldn’t really understand why he had to leave, but he promised he’d be back by my party that night, so I trusted that.
Well, the fire was big, and he still hadn’t come back by the time the family started arriving. I, however, inherited some of his stubbornness, and refused to let my mom start lighting my candles until my daddy was home.
Finally, my mom wore me down and was just about to start the whole cake process (despite my tears) when my dad came home. He was filthy, he smelled as only one can after fighting a fire, and he was exhausted. But, he took a lightning shower and was at the table in time for a piece of cake.
It wasn’t a big moment, but it was an important one.
Fans make a lot of promises, even if they don’t start with “I promise…” Bloggers make a lot of promises. A lot of times, we pride ourselves on the personal and/or private promises we make to the teams we follow. Sometimes it can be hard, maybe even impossible, to keep all of those promises. Circumstances can challenge those promises, and we might find ourselves modifying or dropping certain promises entirely. Keeping a promise, implied or not, is hard, but trying is important. My dad taught me that.
Syracuse Crunch fans and Utica Comets fans now have something rather sad in common: we’ve both watched our teams lose an AHL championship.
Thinking about this made me remember how hard the days, weeks, and months were for me following that night. Although there’s still a lot of sadness associated with that moment, it does get better. It’s slow, but it heals. However, if you’re interested, here’s a few points to help:
-It’s okay to grieve. Give yourself time.
-Sadness and/or anger are okay.
-Try to remember that there are Twitter accounts, Facebook users, and people in your life that you are still going to want or need. Getting yourself muted, blocked, ignored, or cut out isn’t going to feel good when you’re not hurting so bad or when you’re no longer angry.
-Make your medical appointments now. Your immune system is crashing even as you read this.
-Yes, you will be back in October. Even you. This is in your blood now.
-Take care of each other.
This summer, even more is going down at the old barn. Under a joint plan that has been mapped out by the county, the Crunch, and the Lightning, the War Memorial’s rink is (hopefully) going to be brought up to standard NHL size. Currently, there are only two rinks in the AHL that are not 200 feet long by 85 feet wide, which is the standard size for all NHL rinks. The Crunch’s goal is to have that league-wide number down to one by the time the Crunch opens their 22nd season on October 17th. Also, as a side note to the project, the team is looking at ways to make their benches larger, as things are currently pretty cramped even without a backup goalie sitting with either team.
The plan, according to Syracuse Crunch Chief Operating Officer Jim Sarosy, is fairly straightforward and simple. Somewhere between 100 to 150 seats will be affected by the project. The team has a couple of things they’re going to look at to maintain their 6,000+ seating capacity, something that is really important to the organization. No season ticket holders currently sit where the construction is going to take place.
Read more over at Raw Charge!