Saturday, July 31, 2010


I hope everyone is having a great summer. It just occurred to me that I never put up a post about playoff ice conditions. Sorry, I've been consumed by the summer. Suffice to say it's difficult but manageable. I'm glad the playoffs ended early this year, though!

All the Cyclones summer news sort of has last seasons' ice report seeming sort of lame.

First, chronologically speaking, congrats to Coach Stork on his new gig in Greenville! He definitely deserves the shot. It will be very interesting to see how he does as the head coach. He was sort of the "heavy" as part of the coaching team with Chuck Weber. It was Stork running the "bag drills" and dishing out the toughness in practice. I think he and Weber really balanced each other so it will be interesting to see how they both do under different circumstances. I wonder if he will mellow a bit and have a "heavy" of his own or if he'll be the heavy and have an assistant to be the sympathetic one. Or, he might just go hard-core all the way. I could see that happening.

It's a shame that the timing sent Stork to Greenville for the "sure thing" and we lost him. But, we can't blame him for taking the assured opportunity; and I'm a firm believer in things "meant to be" so this must be what's right.

Second, huge congrats to Coach Weber for getting his well-deserved shot at an AHL head coaching position!!!! I think he will do great, but it will be a true test of his abilities. He's been in his comfort zone here in Cincinnati, and he'll definitely be out of his element in the AHL. But, he is a leader in the truest sense of the word. A wise Major General from the US Air Force once said "It is always a question of leadership." I happen to agree.

What I think he will find the most challenging will be having to deal with the parent club. The parent clubs really didn't place many demands on him at the ECHL level. His job was to teach the players professionalism and a winning attitude - basically to see them through a period of maturing in the professional careers. About the only thing the really insisted on was a goalie rotation in the regular season so they both got experience.

With the AHL directly feeding the NHL, it is a whole different story. Not only is he expected to groom the players, generally speaking, for advancement, he is also expected to prepare certain players for certain roles that are needed by the NHL club. This isn't always conducive to the AHL club actually winning. If they need one or two players to get experience with a system employed by the NHL parent team, they might have to play that system even if it is not what the AHL team needs to succeed. He could get calls on a daily basis saying "bench this guy" or "play this goalie" or "give so-and-so 25 minutes of ice time," etc.

Where does all this leave Cincinnati? We'll have to wait and see. I've barely talked with any of the full time staff this summer. The longest conversation I have had was with Drew the new Operations Manager about his experience at Ice Maintenance and Resurfacer Operations school. I have high confidence, however, in the organization.

Ray Harris is well-connected and he knows what he wants. The folks in the local administration are also very good at their jobs. Kristin Ropp, as we know, was just named the ECHL executive of the year (CONGRATS to her as well!!!!). Somebody on the Section 60 board commented that Coach Weber probably had a successor to suggest and I agree with that likelihood. Then they have all their connections with both the Nashville and Montreal organizations.

The biggest thing they need to do is find a coach with vision. They are outstanding leaders, in their own right, in that they know how to stay out of the way of somebody who's performing at or above expectations. So, they don't need a milquetoast they need an assertive coach who knows what he wants, how to get there, and isn't afraid to go after what he wants.

Only time will tell. I think we have to accept that this could really be a "rebuilding" season - which is sports rationalization for a "bad" season. But, then again, the Cyclones went for dormance to conference finals in one season and championship in the second, then an expected "rebuilding" year back to conference finals before returning to the championship. We've seen first hand that the impossible is possible.

Have a little faith, Cyclones fans. We have a great foundation here despite the volatility of AA level hockey. Section 60's countdown shows 75 days until the first game of the 2010-11 season.

Let's Play Hockey!!!!!!!!!!