The Allen Americans are in the midst of the longest stretch of practice without a game for the entire season. Coach Martinson said when the team returned from Utah on Sunday there would be practice everyday this week and he has stuck to that plan. He has made some accommodation for the week with Monday being a fun day with the team captains choosing sides and playing a game. The rest of the week practice has been and will be shorter than normal. Having these extra practice days is a real luxury early in the season and has been invaluable with the short training camp and the recent roster changes.
– If you attend Allen practices you will most likely see a couple of extra coaches on the ice. One is Thomas Speer who is the goalie coach and has been helping for a couple of years. The other coach is Tony Curtale, long time head coach of the Texas Tornado, who has been helping out. Look for Curtale to be on the bench for many of the home games starting with the game on Saturday.
– While Allen will be well rested (seven days) when they play Missouri on Saturday, the Mavericks played on Tuesday (beat Quad City 5-2) and will play in Tulsa Friday night before traveling to Allen for the Saturday night game.
– Two former Allen players had their debut with new teams last night. Kevin Young played in his first game for the Reading Royals as they trounced the Elmira Jackals 8-3. Kevin, who is wearing #55, didn’t have a point but was a +2 on the night.
– Garrett Clarke was wearing #9 and in the starting lineup last night for his first game with the Rapid City Rush as they played the Colorado Eagles in Colorado. Another former Allen American, Darryl Bootland scored just 53 seconds into the game for the Eagles and Colorado went on to a 4-0 victory. Clarke played forward and had one shot on goal, no points, no penalty minutes and was a -1 in the loss.
– In case you were wondering, the reason Allen resigned Garrett Clarke and traded him to Rapid City after he was released and cleared waivers was to do Clarke and Rush coach Joe Ferras a favor. The immigration rules would have required Clarke to return to Canada before going to Rapid City unless he was traded. The future considerations in a move like this is usually nothing more than, “I will help you out when you need a favor down the road.”
– I came across the following in a longer story written by
When I was a cub reporter covering the NBA’s Toronto Raptors in 1995-96, Brendan Malone, the Raptors first head coach, gave me some great insight into team politics.
“The most important people on the team are your best four players and your four players who play the least,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“If those eight guys buy into what you’re doing, everyone in the middle buys in, too,” he said. “If not, you’re in trouble, because you’ve got a lot of guys who aren’t on-board.”
I’ve asked hockey coaches if the analogy works for this sport. Because the rosters are larger, it’s an inexact comparison. But most agree the theory is sound.
Malone’s story popped into my head last week while doing research into American Hockey League salaries. One executive asked if I’d heard about Justin Johnson.
Johnson is a 34-year-old forward, an 11-year-pro who joined the Toronto Marlies after a season with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces.
He’s played two NHL games, both for the Islanders in the 2013-14 season, where, by all accounts, he was a very popular teammate at their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Sixteen different forwards have played for the Marlies in just seven games. That’s a roster nightmare, because you know those who sit are grumbling.
“There’s a logjam there, so they wanted a veteran with good habits who won’t cause a problem,” Johnson’s agent, Jeff Helperl, said last week. “Yes, he wants to play, but also do the things the Marlies are looking for. Justin’s biggest selling point is his character.”
It’s also likely the Marlies wanted someone to protect their youth in case opponents started running at them. It’s tough to say for sure, because assistant GM Kyle Dubas, who negotiated with Helperl, is in media jail.
The interesting thing is how the team and the agent designed this contract. The structure is very different, with a couple of agents and executives saying they’d never seen anything like it before. Johnson’s salary and signing bonus are normal, in American funds.
What stands out are the bonuses.
*$5,000 (these are in Canadian dollars) for every Marlie who scores 20 goals
*$5,000 for every Marlie who reaches 50 points
*$2,500 based on the success of the power play and penalty kill
*$2,500 for everyone who plays 10 games with the Marlies and 15 with the Maple Leafs
“Initially, it was more elaborate than what it ended up being,” Helperl said. “It took a month to finish.”
He wouldn’t go into it, but a couple of sources indicated other bonuses were rejected.
In the NHL, the only players who qualify for bonuses are rookies on their entry-level deals; players who have missed significant time due to injury; and over-35s. But this structure? Don’t even try.
It’s unique. Team bonuses? Absolutely. A player benefiting from the individual performance of a teammate? Definitely new. It’s going to be copied, for sure.
DID YOU KNOW: Two weeks into the 2015-16 ECHL season there are three teams that have yet to lose. Adirondack is 5-0, Fort Wayne is 4-0 and Cincinnati is 2-0.