I’ve had a hiatus of about a month due to a variety of factors (most notably, commitments with family and my full-time job, as well as assisting with some goings-on on West 16th Street in May), but here’s a catch-up on the news in hockey of interest to local fans.
- The league released teams’ protected lists on Tuesday. The Fuel protected all of their skaters under ECHL contract at the end of the season. These are players the team claims ECHL rights to, but does not necessarily have bearing on next year’s rosters. The next two major deadlines are the June 13 “Future Considerations” trade deadline, in which all trades for future considerations must be completed (expect to see a bit of activity from the Fuel here) and the June 15 end-of-season roster deadline, where each team lists its 20-man roster. Also, teams may begin signing players June 16, and extend qualifying offers to eight unsigned players by June 30, which is the most important of the “protected lists.”
- Doug Jessey, who joined the Fuel late in the season, has signed a deal to play with the Brest Albatros in France next year.
- The Kelly Cup Final has begun, with South Carolina leading the Allen Americans 2-1 in the best-of-7. In Game 3 on Wednesday, the Stingrays’ Wayne Simpson tallied his 36th point of this playoff year, setting a new ECHL record, in a 4-1 win. Allen won Game 2 by a 5-2 score on Tuesday. South Carolina won Game 1 4-3. The series shifts to South Carolina for Games 4, 5 and 6, starting on Sunday.
- Also, the AHL’s Calder Cup Final is set to begin Saturday, and it features a city that will be in the ECHL next year. The Manchester Monarchs (LA Kings) will face the Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks) in the Calder Cup Final. Manchester will join the ECHL next year in a franchise-swap with the Ontario Reign, as the AHL franchise moves to Ontario, California and the ECHL franchise to New Hampshire. The AHL Calder Cup Final will also be streamed for free.
- USHL commissioner Bobby Fallen told The Pipeline Show that he hopes to have the Indiana Ice back in the league in 2016-17, and two more expansion teams in 2017-18. Fallen said a proposed $74 million rink in Fishers is a potential landing spot. “They’ve made some overtures to the Indiana Ice to take the ice there for the 2016-17 season, so we’re very hopeful we’re going to have a solution for Indiana and the return of the Ice,” Fallen said on the show (the Ice-related comments begin at about 5:00).
- Former Ice coach Jeff Blashill is set to be announced as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings next week. Blashill led the Ice to the Clark Cup in 2009, and also has led the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins – the Wings’ top affiliate – to a Calder Cup championship. In 2014, he was named AHL Coach of the Year. He also coached Western Michigan to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, his only year with the Broncos. Blashill coached the Ice from 2008-10.
- Blake Siebenaler, who played for the Ice in 2012-13 and is a native of Fort Wayne, has signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Siebenaler was drafted in the third round last year.
- Josh Jacobs, a defenseman on the 2014 Clark Cup championship team, is headed to the OHL to play for the Sarnia Sting. Jacobs played one year at Michigan State. Jacobs is a draft pick of the New Jersey Devils.
- Torey Krug, a 2008-09 Ice player and current Boston Bruins defenseman, won a bronze medal with the United States in the 2014 IIHF World Championships.
- A few Indy hockey connections in the Stanley Cup Final: The Indy Fuel’s parent club, the Chicago Blackhawks, are one of the competitors, and they have a couple of familiar names on the team. Former Checker Mats Hallin is the Hawls’ director of European scouting, and former Indianapolis Ice goaltender Jim Waite is their goaltending coach. And, of course, former Indiana Ice goaltender Scott Darling is a goaltender for Chicago. For Tampa Bay, assistant coach Rick Bowness is the son of former Chief Bob Bowness, and one of their top prospects is former Ice player Adam Erne.
- Ron Wilson has been named the head coach of the United States’ World Junior Championships team for the 2015-16 tournament. Wilson, the former head coach of the Ducks, Capitals, Sharks and Leafs, is the son of former Indianapolis Capitals player Larry Wilson and the nephew of former Capital Johnny Wilson.
- Former IHL Ice player Dave Hakstol is the new head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.
- Former IHL Ice player Vince Williams was let go as the Orlando Solar Bears’ coach.
- This is non-Indy related, but another series of AHL franchise shifts. Hamilton (Montreal) is moving to St. John’s, and the Winnipeg Jets are moving their St. John’s franchise to share the arena with the Winnipeg Jets, bringing back an old familiar name to local fans, the Manitoba Moose. The Jets/Moose and the San Jose Sharks/Barracuda will be two NHL/AHL teams sharing an arena next year.
- Really interesting piece from the Boston Globe on how hockey websites are trying to pick up the torch left by the late Matthew Wuest and CapGeek.
- Gary Bettman said the NHL is in good shape during his State of the League address, addressing expansion, the future of the Arizona Coyotes (“they’re not going anywhere”), the 2016 World Cup/2018 Olympics. Also, the Pittsburgh Penguins are possibly exploring a sale. Mario Lemieux is currently the head of the Pens’ ownership group.