Indications are the AHL All-Star Game will be in St. John's
My grandmother had a talent for taking scraps of wool left over from earlier projects and knit them into brightly-coloured squares, which in turn, were combined to make wonderful, useful blankets.
In a way, this is what I will attempt to do here: turn some scraps of information into something most substantial, in this case, the strong suggestion that St. John’s will be soon announced as the site for the 2014 American Hockey League All-Star Game, one that will have a twist.
Here are individual pieces of wool:
• Both the AHL and St. John’s IceCaps have confirmed, since last winter, that they have been in negotiations that could see Mile One Centre as the 2014 All-Star site.
"St. John's is certainly a candidate and we've had good discussions with Glenn (Stanford) and the IceCaps organization,” said league president Dave Andrews during the 2013 AHL All-Star game in Providence.
• At that time, Andrews suggested that in order for St. John’s to be an All-Star host, there would have to National Hockey League representation at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. During Winter Olympic years, the window for AHL All-Star event opens a bit wider than the normal two-day gap and this wider window would allow for the league to bring in and send out All-Star participants to and from Newfoundland without too much consternation.
As we now know, the NHL is sending players to Sochi and the AHL’s recently-revealed schedule shows a four-day break in mid-February. In a press release accompanying the schedule revelation, the AHL stated “All-Star Classic will take place Tue., Feb. 11, and Wed., Feb. 12. Details on the event will be announced soon.”
• No other league city is known to have expressed an interest in hosting the 2014 All-Star Game.
• The IceCaps have not commented on their All-Star aspirations, other than to say they have discussed the matter with the league, but neither have they ever stated that the project is dead.
Now for the twist.
• AHL All-Star games, as with all-star contests in other hockey leagues (and in many other sports), have lost their pizzazz and there is a perceived need that something different is needed, something to jazz things up for players and fans alike.
Back in February, Andrews gave some indication of just what that might be, at least as far as the AHL All-Star Game is concerned, when he told The Telegram the league “was looking at different scenarios” adding that “we might have a team from elsewhere, from Europe, to play (against an AHL all-Star team).”
• Two weeks ago, the online site Eurohockey.com stated it had “ learned from several sources that the AHL is toying with two unique ideas for a mid-season contest this year. One is an AHL All Star squad contest against a pre-Olympic team from a European country or if that can’t be arranged, a game against a European team from either Germany, Switzerland or Sweden is being considered.”
According Eurohockey.com, AHL declined comment when contacted. When asked about the report by The Telegram, so did the IceCaps.
Given the league’s promise that All-Star details are coming soon, that silence could soon change and we’ll find out if we have a blanket, or just a pile of wool fluff.
St. John’s head coach Keith McCambridge was recently on the Sports Show on CJOB Radio in Winnipeg and was asked to name an IceCaps player he thought might surprise and challenge, in the not distant future, for an NHL job with the parent Winnipeg Jets.
McCambridge’s choice as a surprise might surprise you. It wasn’t Eric O’Dell or Eddie Pasquale, for example.
McCambridge first brought up forward Adam Lowry’s name, but qualified that comment by saying that Lowry, who played a bit with St. John’s at the end of last season and will be entering his first full pro season.
The name the coach settled on: that of defenceman Julian Melchiori, who had modest numbers as an IceCaps’ rookie last season, with one goal, seven assists and 39 penalty minutes in 52 games.
Melchiori, who won’t turn 22 until December, did get recalled to Winnipeg for a short time last season, although he didn’t see any game action. And McCambridge lauded the young rearguard’s steady improvement over the course of the 2012-13 AHL season.
However, the St. John’s coach did note that defence is currently one of the deepest positions on the Jets.