First off, I feel the need to clarify yesterday's post. Five-hundred words is my minimum. So far, I've topped nine-hundred words each night. So I'm making more progress than it sounds like when I say I set a goal of five-hundred.
Onward to today's blog:
If you're among the throngs of my readers who don't care about the Aeros, skip to the video at the end.
For the rest of you:
I have to say I've been pretty stoked about the upcoming AHL season. The Aeros seem to alternate between good seasons and disappointing ones, at least since I've been here, so that means we're do for some good times in 2010-11. There weren't a ton of bright spots in 2009-10, but we've managed to bring most of 'em back for more. Rau, Daoust, and DiSalvatore are all back in the fold, as is vet Jamie Fraser. You've also got to figure we'll have at least two of Colton Gillies, Cody Almond, and Casey Wellman (personally, I think Wellman ends up in Minny, at least to start the year), and Robbie Earl probably bounces up and down again next year. Kassian will be playing cop again, and rookie Nate Prosser (who got a short audition in Minny last year) should see just about a full year in Houston. Max Noreau was a points-machine on the blue line, and he's still signed. Falk has been getting better by the month. And Carson MacMillan isn't great, but he's a useful 4th liner.
Now for the new guys: We signed Drew Bagnall, who is reportedly a wrecking ball on the back end. The Wild have used some pretty high picks on defense recently, and we'll (likely) finally see Tyler Cuma and Marco Scandella in H-Town. (Scandella played with us in the magical 2009 playoff run, but due to his age had to play juniors last year. Played on the Canadian national team. Should be a good one) Warren Peters is a vet who should help our faceoff skills.
Now, that's a lot of turnover from a team that finished dead last in the division, BUT I think the guys we've kept are, for the most part, going to continue to show improvement, and the guys we're bringing in are addressing specific holes we needed to fill. Now, it's impossible to tell how quickly the rookies, especially the d-men, are going to adapt to the AHL game. If Scandella and Cuma make a quick transition to pro, we've definitely got the talent to be a playoff team once again. (Unless, of course, Minnesota is decimated by injuries and we're screwed over and some key positions again, like last season)
Then, today, the Wild signs this guy. Me likey.
So now we're looking at maybe 5 guys who can score 20 or more goals, a potentially solid mix of vets and talented youngsters on the blueline, and a goaltending tandem of...
Suddenly, Anton Khudobin, the darling of the 2009 playoff run and an AHL All-Star after a superb first half last season, wants a one-way deal. And if he doesn't get it, he may bolt to play in Russia?
Come on, Anton! You've only had one year of starter status in the AHL. Heck, most NHL goalies have at least 2 or 3 full seasons in the AHL before getting a regular job in the show. Besides, after this year, Harding's a UFA and the Wild probably lets him walk. You're on the fast-track to a regular NHL job.
And as excited as I am to see rookie Matt Hackett play (and I am), I want to see you in the pipes as the starter. Besides, you still have to prove you can actually play TWO decent halves of the season, because after the All-Star Break, um...not so much.
That was the whole team, though. We were in playoff contention pretty seriously until about halfway through, and then we sucked. Hard. We started slow just about every single night, and it eventually bit us in the rear. And that means: coaching change.
And here's why I'm most excited about the new coach: the guy left a pretty solid gig as an assistant with NHL Pittsburgh because he really, really WANTS to be HERE. We wasn't looking for a new job, but he wants to coach the Houston Aeros. Why? Some sentimental nonsense left over from playing nine seasons here and winning a championship. Or something like that.
He's worked with the staff in Minnesota, he's won a Cup running the Pens' powerplay, and he's really stoked to be back in Texas. His assistants are a former Aero teammate and a longtime NHL d-man with two Cup rings.
Welcome (back) to Houston, Mike Yeo, Brian Wiseman, and Darryl Sydor.
I'm proposing the official slogan for 2010-11 be "Bring Back the Good Times."
It's a heck of a lot better than "We Come to Play."
And now, the video at the end.
THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T LET CANADIANS MAKE MOVIES!!!!
This is apparently leading off the Toronto film festival.
"It's Our Movie."
You can have it, Canada...
(Here's Puck Daddy's post about the trailer and the movie)