ALLEN, Texas – One of the best things about writing for many different outlets is the opportunity to talk to so many fans about hockey. As you might imagine with the Americans start this season, and yes, it is the worst start in the history of the franchise, there have been more conversations than normal. I hear from fans that have already jumped off the bandwagon to those that will be on the bandwagon if Allen doesn’t win another game all season. So after getting up early this morning (for me that is 2:00 am,) I kept thinking about how to put everything in perspective so decided to try and share my thoughts.
– The starting point for me is always coach and general manager Steve Martinson and what popped into my head was a T-shirt I see Allen fans wearing on occasion that says, “In Marty We Trust.” Martinson is in his 23rd year of coaching and has missed the playoffs one time to go along with 10 championships.
– The first time I interviewed Martinson back in 2012 he spent as much time talking about the missed playoff, which had happened the year before (2011-12), as he did about his championships. Even after he won the CHL championship that first season in Allen (2012-13), he had missing the playoffs the year before on his mind.
“The championship was satisfying for me personally because it came the year after missing the playoffs in Chicago,” Martinson commented during the championship celebration. “Missing the playoffs had never happened to me before. Even though that Chicago team lost seven players to the AHL and had seven season-ending injuries and unbeknownst to me the team was folding it was tough missing the playoffs. To win the championship the year after missing the playoffs for the first time was big for me.”
– While the Americans are off to their worst start ever (3-7-0-1), there have been a lot of setbacks early in the season with injuries and the call-up of the team’s leading scorer. Allen fans should take heart that Martinson won’t use those obstacles as excuses for not winning. He will just keep working to get better each and every day. When you have lost seven players to the AHL and seven players to season-ending injuries like he did in Chicago in 2011-12, what is happening now pales in comparison. By the way, Chicago actually tied for the last playoff spot that season but lost the tiebreaker.
– I also hear about how hard it is to play shorthanded as the Americans have had to do the last few games. When I raised that with Martinson, he dismissed it as an excuse for poor play. His response was based on his early coaching experience when he played the entire season with nine forwards and four defensemen and still won a championship.
– It is important to remember every team, no matter how good it is, goes through tough times during the season. The 2012-13 championship team went a month in January and February winning just one game. The 2014-15 Kelly Cup winning team had 106 points in the regular season and only lost 20 games all season but lost nine of 14 games from the middle of February to the middle of March. The 2015-16 team lost five out of six games three times that season but still won the Kelly Cup.
– The bottom line is Allen is off to a bad start and they will get better when they get some of their injured players back. If Braylon Shmyr returns it will give the team a big boost. However, as Martinson reminds me all of the time, this team is good enough to win every night and that is what they are striving to do.
– If you ask Martinson his expectations of players you always get the same answer, “I say it often and it is straightforward. What is important to me is having players that work hard, are in great shape, follow the system, be a team guy, and finish checks. If you don’t do all of these things you can’t be a leader.”
– You don’t win 10 championships in 22 years and make the playoffs 21 out of 22 years without knowing how to fix problems as they present themselves during the season. There is no doubt Martinson will get this turned around one way or another. My advice is if you have already jumped off the bandwagon, get back on and if you are on the edge ready to jump, sit back and enjoy the ride. It will certainly be a bumpy ride but those bumps will smooth out as the season progresses.
– The Americans are using a new online/mobile auction company this season called LiveSource. Once you download the application all you have to do is click on the Allen Americans button to see the items up for auction. You can watch the auction without entering your credit card info, however, you will need to enter this information to bid on an item. The Americans will be wearing a specialty veterans jersey on Saturday and these jerseys are now available on the auction site. This auction will end on Tuesday (November 13) at 9:00 pm. You can get more details and download the app here: http://www.livesourceapp.com/
– Here is the specialty jersey the team will wear on Saturday that is now available on LiveSource:
– There are four ECHL teams that have just one regulation loss. Three of them are from the Mountain Division; Utah, Kansas City, and Tulsa. The fourth team with one regulation loss is Toledo.
– Here is an example of why it is better to look at winning percentage rather than points when viewing the standings. The #1 team in points is Newfoundland with 18 but they have already played 14 games. If you look at winning percentage they are ranked #11. The team with the fewest games played is Wheeling who has only played six games.
– ECHL goalies have been stellar in shootouts this season. Only one team is above .333 in shootout attempts (Brampton is .500). Leaguewide goalies have stopped 61 of 83 shootout attempts. That equates to a success rate (shootout goals scored) of 26.5%.