We pay a special off season visit to the Power Play Post Show and talk #AHL, #SyrCrunch, #TBLightning

From the show’s official episode synopsis:

Alex made her return to the Power Play Post Show to talk about the Syracuse Crunch‘s very off 2013-14 season which included many injuries, call-ups and situations that left the Crunch struggling most of the season. Alex also talked about late AHL trade deadline acquisitions by the Crunch and how a player like Jonathan Marchessault will help the Crunch in this upcoming season. Lastly Alex and Bob talked about the Crunch’s move from the East Division to the Northeast Division for the upcoming season and effects that it will now have on the scheduling for East and Northeast teams.

If I remember correctly, I also rambled about the Tampa Bay Lightning, the relationship we have in this affiliation in comparison to previews affiliations, Ryan Callahan, smaller rink sizes and physicality, our previous problems with Russian players, Mike Blunden, and a couple of defensemen in a pear tree. I also continued my tradition of absolutely butchering players’ names, except this time I got to do it where everyone could hear me.

Go me?

(Again, so many apologies, Andrei Vasilevski)

In addition to my rambles, hosts Bob and Megan discussed the new AHL divisions and the rules changes for the upcoming AHL season. They gave their views on the new overtime, fighting and helmet rules (you can read my views on this here). They also took a look at the eight (holy crap, EIGHT?!) AHL head coaching changes that have occurred during this off season.

If you haven’t clicked the link yet, please do so and support the show by giving it a listen! You can follow the Bob and the Power Play Post Show on Twitter, and you can also give Megan a follow as well. You can also like the Show on Facebook. Big thanks to the show for having me on again, it was great to be back!

The #TBLightning has re-signed #SyrCrunch forward Philippe Paradis to a one-year, two-way contract

News just broke that the Lightning has finally re-signed the Crunch’s only remaining RFA for this summer, Philippe Paradis. Here’s the full release, which also has details on Tampa Bay’s signing of NHL forward Brenden Morrow:


Paradis Signs One-Year, Two-Way Contract

TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent forward Brenden Morrow to a one-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Tampa Bay also signed forward Philippe Paradis (pair-ah-DEE) to a one-year, two-way contract.

Morrow, 6-foot, 205 pounds, played in 71 games with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14, recording 13 goals and 25 points with a plus-1 rating. He scored four power-play goals and three game-winning goals. Morrow ranked eighth on the team for goals and averaged 11:54 in ice time per game.

A native of Carlyle, Saskatchewan, Morrow is a veteran of 921 NHL games with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Blues. He has accumulated 262 goals, 567 points and is a plus-108. He is a seven-time 20-goal scorer and has reached the 30-goal plateau on two occasions. He served as the captain of the Stars from 2006 until he was traded to Pittsburgh during the 2012-13 season. Morrow has appeared in 94 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, notching 19 goals and 46 points.

Morrow has represented Canada at numerous international events. He won the Silver Medal at the 1999 World Junior Championships, the Gold Medal at the 2004 IIHF World Championships and Silver in 2005. He also was part of the Canadian team that won the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Morrow scored a pair of goals and added an assist at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, where the Canadians won the Gold Medal.

The 35-year-old was drafted in the first round, 25th overall, at the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh on March 24, 2013. He signed with St. Louis as a free agent on September 23, 2013.

Paradis played in 56 games with the Syracuse Crunch last season, recording six goals and 15 points. He has played in 166 career American Hockey League games with the Toronto Marlies, Rockford Ice Hogs and the Crunch, recording 13 goals and 43 points.

Paradis is still looking to recapture his shining moment from the 2013 Eastern Conference finals where he recorded a hat trick in the final game of that series vs. WBS. Paradis struggled a bit with injury last season, and just didn’t exactly look like the spitfire he had been the previous season. However, many Crunch fans still enjoyed the heart with which he played, and were looking forward to having him back.

The deal is done now, which is great for those fans. With PC Labrie moving on to another organization, Paradis has the potential to step into a bigger role with the Crunch if he can recapture more of the energy and grit he had after he was traded to the Crunch during the 2012-2013. However, there’s also speculation that Paradis might be in competition for a spot on Tampa’s 4th line. Speculation on that has gone back and forth between Paradis and the recently-signed Mike Blunden. Both have the toughness chops to make it work, but Blunden has NHL experience.

The good news for Syracuse is that the signing of the 35-year-old Morrow fills up yet another forward slot up with the big club. Morrow is the veteran that Tampa really needed to add to their fairly young forward group that’s filled with the Young Guns from Syracuse. Their forward group will probably also include a guy named Jonathan Drouin. You know him, right? Yeah, I figured you did.

At this point in time, I’m going to assume to only “regular” Syracuse guy we’ll be losing is Brett Connolly. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that Blunden starts here, darn it, because I want him to.

So there.

Anyway, welcome back, Paradis!

#AHL Board approves rules changes for the 2014-2015 season

The AHL has long been a testing ground for rules the NHL wants to see put into practice, and it looks like this upcoming season will bring changes for all of the clubs in the league in several areas. Here’s the release that talks about them:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors has concluded its 2014 Annual Meeting, held this week at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Chaired by AHL President and CEO David Andrews, the four days of meetings, which concluded Thursday, saw the approval of the following rules changes to be implemented beginning in 2014-15:

Rule 85 (“Overtime”)

  • During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be seven minutes (7:00) in length, preceded by a “dry scrape” of the entire ice surface.
  • Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.
  • Full playing strength will be 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play (4:00 remaining), at which time full strength will be reduced to 3-on-3 for the duration of the overtime period.
  • If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.

Rule 20.4 (“Major Penalties”)

  • An automatic game misconduct will be applied to any player who has been assessed two major penalties for fighting or three major penalties for any infraction in the same game.

Rule 9.6 (“Helmets”)

  • A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play will be assessed a minor penalty unless he immediately (a) exits the playing surface or (b) puts the helmet back on with the chin strap properly fastened.

“With the full support of the league’s Competition Committee and Player Development Committee, the Board has approved these changes with the betterment of our game and the safety of our players in mind,” said Andrews.

I ramble about all of this after the cut.

And be warned, when I say ramble, I mean ramble.

Read the rest of this entry »

#TBLightning sign forward Jerome Samson to a one-year, two-way contract for the #SyrCrunch

After last season’s struggles, Crunch fans were hoping that the farm club wouldn’t be put in another position where call ups and untested player performance would decimate the season. Yes, call ups will happen, and, no, injuries can’t be helped, but an AHL fan always hopes that the pieces of a team have been put together well enough that it can withstand such events without a significant drop in team performance.

Well, it seems like special attention is being paid to that aspect, and attention is being paid well. The news was dropped today that the Lightning have signed AHL forward Jerome Samson. Here’s the release:


TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Jerome Samson to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Samson, 26, skated in 68 games with the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League last season, recording 27 goals and 56 points to go along with 49 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the IceCaps and 12th in the AHL for power-play tallies with 11. The Greenfield Park, Quebec native ranked second on St. John’s for goals and was third for points. He also appeared in 17 AHL postseason games last season, posting three goals and six points, helping the IceCaps reach the Calder Cup Finals.

The 6-foot, 195-pound forward has skated in 46 career NHL games, all with the Carolina Hurricanes over parts of three seasons, notching two goals and nine points. Samson recorded an assist in his NHL debut on January 7, 2010 against the Nashville Predators. He registered his first career NHL goals during the 2011-12 season while playing for the Hurricanes.

The undrafted forward has skated in 424 career AHL games with the IceCaps, Charlotte Checkers and Albany River Rats, posting 160 goals and 336 points to go along with 306 penalty minutes. Samson was named to the AHL First All-Star Team following the 2009-10 season after he posted 37 goals and 78 points while playing for Albany.

Samson was ranked at number 10 on the Penguins Insider’s AHL Big Board. According to their rankings, Samson is “a perennial 20-goal scorer who isn’t afraid to battle on the boards.” Samson will be everything the Crunch should need him to be: he can score, he isn’t afraid to get physical, and at 424 career AHL games, he’ll be another voice of leadership and guidance in the Crunch’s fairly young dressing room. He can also be some depth insurance for Tampa Bay, just in case.

This looks like the off season jewel of a signing for the Crunch this summer. With young forwards abounding on Syracuse’s roster, having a player with that much leadership and potential ability on the ice and in the dressing room can’t be overstated. Samson sounds like he has a little bit of everything in him. This is a strong signing for Syracuse, and a great depth signing for the Lightning.

Here’s some of the Twitter buzz on the signing:

Off season alignment changes lands #SyrCrunch in new #AHL division

Since the affiliation switch, the Crunch has gone 50/50 in the AHL’s East Division: in 2012-2013, Syracuse ruled it and won the division championship. In 2013-2014, Syracuse blew it and landed dead last at the end of the season. So, it’s difficult to predict how a made-over Crunch squad would have done this season. Now, with the AHL re-alignment for 2014-2015 set, it’s also pretty futile, too.

The Crunch has itself a new division and with it a host of new divisional opponents to worry about. The Crunch has been in the AHL’s East Division now since 2011-2012. Their opponents were the Hershey Bears, the WBS Penguins, the Binghamton Senators, and the Norfolk Admirals. For the 2014-2015 season, and the foreseeable future, the Crunch will be in the Northeast Division along with the Springfield Falcons, the Albany Devils, the Hartford Wolfpack, and the Bridgeport Soundtigers.

The Allentown Phantoms, previously located in Glens Falls, will be taking the Crunch’s slot in their old East Division. Other changes include:

• Calgary’s affiliate relocating from Abbotsford, B.C., to Glens Falls, N.Y., and playing in the North Division
• Lake Erie moving from the North Division to the Midwest Division
• Iowa moving from the Midwest Division to the West Division

According to the release that the Crunch put out, Syracuse was 3-5-1-1 vs. the Northeast during the 2013-14 season. They were 2-3-0-1 vs. Albany, 1-1-0-0 vs. Bridgeport, and 0-1-1-0 vs. Springfield. AHL teams change a lot during the off season, of course, so although it’s good info to have, treat those numbers as if they’re worth a grain of salt.

Now, yes, this does mean that the Crunch’s travel will probably increase in some ways, but we also know that it will stay the same in others. Syracuse played Albany 6 times last season. That will probably go up to 8 or 10, but Albany is just a few hours down the road. The Crunch saw Springfield twice. That will probably go up, obviously, and I would expect their play vs. Bridgeport to increase, too, at least by a couple of games. Springfield is three and a half hours away; Bridgeport is four and a half. Syracuse didn’t play Hartford; Hartford is four hours away from Syracuse.

However, on the other side of things, the Crunch played Norfolk 8 times last season, and were visitors for four of those games. That will probably either go down, or it may be eliminated all together. Norfolk and Syracuse have a rivalry thing going, yadda yadda, but Norfolk is no longer a division rival. It doesn’t make sense to do all of that traveling just for a rivalry. Also, Syracuse will continue to play closer teams like Rochester, Binghamton (also a rivalry team), WBS, Hershey, Glens Falls, and Allentown several times, regardless of divisional status and only because of geographical closeness.

Also, there’s this:

So, yeah. Just keep in mind that travel in the AHL is looked at much differently than in the NHL when it comes to playing divisional and/or conference teams.

Here’s the other part of the AHL release that came out today. It talks about the 2015 playoff format:

The format for the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs has also been approved by the Board of Governors and remains the same as 2014: Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth. The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.

#SyrCrunch/#TBLightning organization (probably) nets 5th goaltender in Allen York signing

The Syracuse Crunch have signed goalie Allen York to a  two-way AHL contract. York will presumably be the organization’s 5th goalie, a hole that desperately needed to be filled. York will probably land with one of the Crunch’s affiliates, either in the CHL with the Brampton Beast or, in the more likely scenario, in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades.

Here is the official release from the Crunch:

Crunch sign Allen York to AHL contract

Syracuse, N.Y. – The Syracuse Crunch have signed goaltender Allen York to a two-way AHL contract, Crunch general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

York, 25, spent the 2013-14 season with four AHL clubs (Charlotte, Texas, Rockford and Syracuse) and two ECHL teams (Evansville and South Carolina). The 6-foot-3, 194-pound goaltender from Wetaskiwin, Alberta, started in four games for the Crunch and posted a 1-2-1 record including a 39-save shutout of Hershey Feb. 22, 2014.

York has appeared in 40 career AHL games for Springfield, Charlotte, Texas, Rockford and Syracuse compiling a 21-12-3 record, 2.57 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. He has also played 36 ECHL games with Chicago, Evansville and South Carolina amassing a record of 18-12-4 with a 2.97 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.

York was drafted by the Columbus in the sixth round, 158th overall, at the 2007 NHL Draft. He reached the NHL during the 2011-12 season and went 3-2-0 in 11 games for Columbus Blue Jackets.

Going on the assumption that Ben Bishop and Evgeni Nabokov will be holding down the fort in Tampa Bay while Kristers Gudlevskis and Andrei Vasilevski do their tour of duty in the AHL, one can see that the only spot left in the organization for a netminder was for a 5th goalie. Tampa Bay does have two other goalie prospects in Clay Witt  and Adam Wilcox, but both returning to school this fall.

As long as Tampa’s recent development camp hasn’t changed anything drastically from that plan, York should be slated in as a depth signing who will get minutes with a Syracuse affiliate until needed by the Crunch. York has a rather small sample size in the AHL, but was capable as a stop-gap last season when the Crunch needed him. Should Vasilevski do as well or better than anticipated and get called up before the end of the AHL season, York could then be called on to be the back up behind Gudlevskis in Syracuse.

.@Vladdy18 #SyrCrunch beauty included in #AHL Goals of the Year for 2013-2014

You can check out all of the goals by clicking on this link. Vladdy’s highlight goal comes at the 2:10 mark. There’s also a Crunch goal .38 seconds in, but the clip is barely viewable…and it comes after a terrible goals against by the Utica Comets. So, do yourself a favor and just enjoy the Vladdy-from-Nikita Kucherov highlight goal by itself.


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