On The Amerks and an NHL Lockout
“And all I’m asking, please, is that you’ll stay with me – even when it don’t come easy.” (Matt Wertz, Don’t Come Easy)
I can’t lie, guys. This off season has been tough for me. I won’t regale you with “What I Did This Summer,” even though it was awesome, but I’ve been struggling since LA hoisted that silver (and yeah, I cried. So did you, so shut up). Why? Because of that word we all hate, but that we’re all talking about: Lockout. That little troll Bettman announced recently that, should an agreement not be reached by September 15, the league is fully prepared to lockout. So … here’s the thing. I do NOT want to see a lockout. I don’t. I don’t want to see another season (because I remember the other two, vividly) where my favorite players sit around and don’t do anything for any length of time. I’d much rather see them on the benches and ice not doing anything, where I can yell at them like the level-headed hockey fan that I am. But … then the AHL dilemma comes into play.
I am lucky in a way that a lot of hockey fans are not. My two teams, who just happen to be farm and parent clubs, are a mere hour’s drive away from one another. In 2004-05, I was blessed that a lot of my Sabres came to Rochester to be Amerks during the lockout, and it was glorious. Just in time for another big lockout (let’s face it, here, folks …), the Amerks and Sabres reaffiliated last season to combine into an unstoppable hockey super power! Ok, I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing. Are you done now? Ok, then. Take your time. We good? OK. This is where I struggle: I want my Amerks to be Amerks. I get it – The AHL is here to serve as a development league for the NHL, and I’m like a proud momma (no age jokes, thanks) when I see my little boys growing up to play in the big leagues. But I still want my Amerks to be my Amerks. It’s sad to me, partly, to think that I may never see Marcus Foligno in the red, white, and blue on Rochester ice again. But then … lockout. Imagine I just whispered that in a mystical, magical way. Imagine that I get to see not only Marcus, but Cody Hodgson and Kevin Porter, too! And McNabb, Tropptastic, and Brennan. THEY ALL GET TO STAY IN ROCHESTER! See what I mean? This is the dilemma of every major AHL fan, whether they want to admit it or not. We want to see our boys grow up and do well and make millions and win Stanley Cups. But we all secretly are semi-ok with the idea of a lockout because our boys get to stay home. You can tell me I’m wrong, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and (again) that I’m wrong. You can even throw in something about how I’m a girl and I don’t understand. I do. I get it. None of us want a lockout, but us AHL fans … well, we’re a little more alright with it than our NHL friends.
The AHL rules state that, of the dressed players on any given night, twelve (12) players who are not the goalie can have played 260 or less NHL, AHL, or euro-league regular season games. One player can have played up to 320. These break down to about 3.25 and 4 seasons, respectively. The math’s a little wonky because the AHL and NHL (I didn’t look at european hockey) play a different number of games during the season. In the event of a lockout, the players must also either be on ELC (entry-level contract) or two-way deals. Although several Sabres meet games-played criteria – Nathan Gerbe (247), Alex Sulzer (234), Tyler Myers (217), Cody Hodgson (143), and Tyler Ennis (because I’m pretending he’s signed a contract, at 140 games) – only Hodgson and Kevin Porter (261) have contracts that make them AHL-eligible. Of course, in the event of a lockout, we’d expect to see the likes of Foligno, Tropp, Brennan, and McNabb back in the roster slots they held last year. Luke Adam also qualifies for AHL play, as we saw last season, but maybe should take a breather, because he’s not very good at hockey lately.
The good side of this is that Hodgson and Porter (who I really want to keep calling Parker, and that would just be terrible) would both potentially bring forward power, since there have been about eight million and seven d-men signings this off season. I GET IT. Defense is awesome! However. Can we score some goals? Come on now. What we know for sure right now is that some of our guys saw the writing on the wall and signed overseas: Travis Turnbull, Paul Szczechura, Igor Gongalsky (my BFF), Shaone Morrisonn, Dennis Persson, and Michael Ryan all signed contracts overseas. Just remember, Āssät, there isn’t a return policy or lemon law when it comes to Mike Ryan OR his eyebrows. Darcy Regier helped out a little, by signing forwards Corey Fienhage, Evan Rankin, and Maxime Legault to AHL contracts, as well as blue liners Alex Biega and Drew Schiestel. You may recall that Schiestel was loaned to the Texas Stars last season, and did not make the Amerks Clear Day roster. Mark Mancari was also secured in the off season, on a two-way deal, presumably to take on a veteran role with the AHL club. Mancari spent most of last season with the Chicago Wolves, amassing 58 (30 + 28) points and 40 PIM in 69 games. Darcy also gifted us with a two-way AHL/ECHL deal for Frederick Roy (that’s waaaaaaa, as in Patrick, not Roy as in “don’t let the door hit ya in the behind on the way out of town”). Roy, who is the son of said Patrick, tallied 92 (27 + 65) points and 88 PIM in 64 games with the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts last season. I was particularly impressed with him during development camp, once I got over the tool bag sitting in front of me wearing the Chara jersey at Sabres development camp. Don’t even get me started on that again.
The Amerks kick off the 2012-12 season at home on October 12 against long-time rival Syracuse Crunch. Like I said at the start, kids, I sincerely hope that a lockout does not happen for the NHL. Although it’s nice to play pretend here with y’all, and it’s honestly nice to be a selfish AHL fan, I don’t want to see the NHL try to carry the weight of recovering from yet another work stoppage. I would like another season with my 2011-12 boys, but I know it’s not reasonable, and I know that isn’t the purpose of the AHL, either. I hope that a lockout isn’t in our future, but I do hope that – either way – I’ll see you at the game!