Tag Archives: Dave Andrews

SPOTLIGHT: STATE OF THE LEAGUE

Bruce BerletBY: Bruce Berlet

The biggest news out of AHL president and CEO Dave Andrews’ State of the League Address during the All-Star Classic is video review of disputed goals is one step from becoming a reality.

Andrews said the AHL board of governors will vote on whether to adopt replay at its meeting in Chicago in May.

“It’s pretty hard to logically argue we shouldn’t have a system that gets it right more often than not or helps us get it right in those circumstances,” Andrews told the media in Atlantic City, N.J.

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FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

bruce mug shot 1By Bruce Berlet

Bruce Landon has known Howard Baldwin for nearly four decades.

When Landon wasn’t tending goal for Baldwin’s New England Whalers for parts of their first five seasons in the World Hockey Association, he was playing mostly in Springfield, where he has spent the last 30 years working to build and then keep hockey alive.

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FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

bruce mug shot 1By Bruce Berlet

AHL president and CEO Dave Andrews called last week’s All-Star Classic “awesome” for a number of reasons, starting with two nights of sellout crowds for the skills competition and All-Star Game at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.

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NIGHT VISION

Bruce HeadshotBy Bruce Berlet

Wolf Pack Grads Continue To Excel on Broadway

Wolf Pack graduates from Asylum Street continue to make vital contributions for the parent team on Broadway.

In the Rangers’ 3-2 victory over the Bruins on Saturday night, center Artem Anisimov scored the first goal and won a team-high nine of 17 face-offs. Defenseman Marc Staal scored the winner 48 seconds into the second period on an assist from right wing/alternate captain Ryan Callahan, who notched his 100th career NHL point. Rookie defenseman Michael Sauer, who missed much of the last two seasons with the Wolf Pack because of injuries, recorded his first NHL point, the primary assist on Alex Frolov’s first-period goal, which came 27 seconds after Anisimov scored. And left wing Brandon Dubinsky had an assist on Anisimov’s goal.

Then in a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night, Callahan scored his first goal of the season, the game-winner on a power-play deflection of Dubinsky’s shot, and then assisted on an empty-net goal by Dubinsky, who shook off a thunderous third-period check by Matt Corrente to score with one second left. Callahan has at least a point in each of three consecutive victories that have put the Rangers two games above .500 for the first time this season (4-2-1).

Dubinsky leads the team in scoring (four goals, three assists), average ice time for forwards (21 minutes, 41 seconds) and won seven of 12 faceoffs when he moved from left wing into the circle. Defenseman Dan Girardi is tied for second in the NHL with a team-high 24 blocked shots and ranks third in average ice time (24:03).

With leading scorer Marian Gaborik (separated left shoulder), versatile Vinny Prospal (knee) and captain/Trumbull native Chris Drury (broken finger) sidelined three to six weeks, the Blueblood Line of Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan has been the best for the Blueshirts. And the Staal-Girardi pairing is No. 1 on defense, though they have been split up at times the last few games.

When asked after Sunday’s victory about doing the little things needed to win, Callahan said, “That’s what I try to do. I try to be good on the puck, be really good on the forecheck, take the body and do what I can. Obviously, I want to chip in with the goals when I can, too, but when that’s not going well, you definitely have to concentrate on the other things, and when you do that, you start to get bounces toward the net and start getting more chances. … I try to go out there and lead by example, finishing checks and blocking shots. If guys are jumping on board with it, that’s great. And I think everyone has bought into the system we’re trying to do – hard on the forecheck, sacrificing ourselves for the team. These three games, I think we’ve seen that.”

Rangers coach John Tortorella gushed about Callahan, an All-Star with the Wolf Pack who Hartford and New York fans love for his grit and tenacity, as demonstrated by making four of the Rangers’ 21 blocked shots against the Devils.

“He does everything,” Tortorella said. “And I’m happy for him that he gets the winner. You watch him block shots, you see the things he does on the wall, everything about him. I like the way he stepped up in the locker room in between periods there (in Boston on Saturday night) when we taking all those penalties. It’s the most I’ve heard him say in the locker room since I’ve been with him. So I think he’s embracing being a leader on this club, too. It’s good stuff.”

Good, indeed, for a fourth-round pick – and reminiscent of the best third-round pick in Whalers history, Kevin Dineen. Callahan has been the Rangers’ de facto captain in Drury’s absence, and Dineen was captain of the Whalers and scored the last goal in franchise history in a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 13, 1997.

The bigger Anisimov from long sessions in the gym with Rangers strength and conditioning coach Reg Grant has made the biggest improvement in his second season with the Rangers after being an All-Star with the Wolf Pack in 2008-09.

“He’s gotten a lot stronger,” Callahan told the New York Post’s Jay Greenberg in a story that appeared Tuesday. “This summer he put on a little meat, and it’s helped his game tremendously, holding on to pucks for that extra second.”

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Anisimov has three goals and two assists and drawn comparisons to former Montreal Canadiens standout Peter Mahovlich, not Hall of Fame brother Frank. No one knows if Anisimov regularly scores 20 or 30 goals, but having a skilled, gritty center with enough size to go against big centers is something that Rangers fans have begged for for years.

“He’s still just a puppy as far as his body goes,” Tortorella said. “You see him bring the puck to the net and he’s impressive. And he’s already one of our better defensive players. I think about him a lot, want to make sure with he and (rookie center Derek) Stepan that we don’t miss the steps in the growing process. I took a couple shifts away (in Sunday’s game) because I worry about that. I just want to make sure I am careful not to give him too much. Last year, I thought I knocked him down a bit when I put him in the second line. He was very honest with me about being nervous and you could tell.”

Anisimov, a second-round pick in 2006, had an honest answer when asked about increased responsibility, from being part of the first power-play unit with Gaborik and Prospal out, to helping protect one-goal leads in the final minute against six attackers with Drury sidelined.

“Trust is everything for me,” he said.

The Rangers return to action Wednesday night when they host the Atlanta Thrashers at 7:05 in the second game of a three-game homestand.

 

Nylander’s Season Is Over

Former Whalers and Rangers center Michael Nylander had successful surgery to fuse together the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae (C-1 is the highest toward the head) in his neck Monday, ending this season but apparently not his career. The 38-year-old Nylander will need an estimated six months of rehabilitation to return to the ice after sustaining the injury in the second period of the Rochester Americans’ 4-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday night.

“He’ll definitely have to do some soul-searching when he has recovered,” Amerks coach Chuck Weber told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “The little bit I do know him, I don’t think this is the way he’ll want to go out.”

Nylander was injured when he was checked from behind along the right-wing boards by Griffins defenseman Brendan Smith. Nylander fell into the boards at an awkward angle on a hit that appeared to be legal, with no penalty assessed. Nylander immediately knew he was seriously injured as he skated right to the bench, leaving behind his equipment and a slew of expletives.

“Thankfully this happened without neurologic deficit, he didn’t lose feeling,” Dr. Robert Bronstein, the Amerks’ team physician, told the Democrat and Chronicle. “A cervical spine injury can be catastrophic. This is why we clamor at the youth hockey levels right up to the pro levels that you can’t hit from behind. … The higher the level, the worse it becomes because more nerves can be involved. If everything goes as expected, he (spinal specialist Dr. Robert Molinari) feels he would be able to go back and play.”

The 19-year pro veteran, loaned to the Amerks in late September by the Washington Capitals, is in the final year of a contract paying him $3 million this season. The Amerks’ parent club, the Florida Panthers, paid about $1 million to the Capitals for him to play in Rochester. Since Nylander won’t receive medical clearance until around May 1, the Panthers have started a search for a replacement. … A day after beating the Wolf Pack, the Binghamton Senator lost 2-1 in a shootout with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who remain the AHL’s only unbeaten team at 6-0-0-0, with five wins being by a one goal. Former Wolf Pack center Corey Locke got the Senators a standings point with 10.6 seconds left in regulation, spoiling John Curry’s bid for a shutout. Chris Conner scored in the eighth round of the shootout, and Curry then stopped Jim O’Brien, who assisted on Erik Condra’s goal that beat the Wolf Pack. Curry had 37 saves, and the Senators’ Barry Brust stopped 36 of 37 shots, making him 122-for-126 (.968 percent) in his last three starts. … Former Wolf Pack wing Alexandre Giroux, the two-time defending AHL goal-scoring champion, scored with 1:02 left in overtime to give Oklahoma City a 3-2 road victory over Hamilton on Sunday in a game nationally televised on Canadian Broadcasting Company and the NHL Network. Giroux, who is with the Barons this season after winning consecutive Calder Cups in Hershey, notched his fourth goal and eighth point of the season to remain tied with Brad Moran (three goals, five assists) for the team scoring lead. … Milwaukee Admirals left wing Linus Klasen was named AHL Player of the Week for getting three goals and three assists in two victories and a loss. Goalie Dov Grumet-Morris was the Wolf Pack nominee after making 22 saves in his team debut in a 2-1 overtime loss to Syracuse on Saturday night.

Andrews To Receive Patrick Award Wednesday Night

Congratulations to AHL president and CEO David Andrews, who will receive much-deserved recognition Wednesday night when he accepts the Lester Patrick Trophy from the NHL and USA Hockey for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.

Andrews will receive one of hockey’s most prestigious awards for 16 years as leader of minor-league hockey’s top league after seven years as the Edmonton Oilers’ director of AHL operations, including the Cape Breton Oilers’ 1993 Calder Cup championship season. He previously was a senior consultant with SportCanada and head coach and director of hockey operations for the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Cougars. He was inducted into the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame (2005) and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame (2006).

The native of Nova Scotia will be honored with Boston Bruins legendary right wing Cam Neely, Boston College coach Jerry York and Boston University coach Jack Parker. The trophy was presented to the NHL by the Rangers in 1966 to honor the memory of Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager. In 20-plus years with the Rangers, Patrick won two Stanley Cups as head coach (1928, 1933) and one as the general manager (1940). Former Rangers coach and GM and Whalers GM Emile Francis received the award in 1982.

Enjoy your special night, Dave. You earned it and deserve it.

A NEW CBA…FOR THE AHL!

resized_ahl75 With the real possibility of another lock-out looming when the current contract between the players and the NHL expires after next season, it is a big deal today that the American Hockey League has announced a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Professional Hockey Players Association that will cover the league through the 2013-2014 season.

What this will allow, should there be another lockout, is for professional hockey to be continued to be played in North America and a number of players that are on NHL deals will be able to continue to play much as it went in the last lockout five years ago.

Here is the official release:

AHL, PHPA RATIFY NEW COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT

The American Hockey League and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association today announced the ratification of a new four-year Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The new CBA, which is effective through August 31, 2014, has been ratified by both the AHL’s Board of Governors and the overwhelming majority of AHL players.

The CBA has been modified to include significant enhancements to the health and welfare plan currently offered to AHL players and their families, to provide flexibility to the AHL in Calder Cup Playoff scheduling and financing, and to allow for increases to per-diem and minimum salary as well as modifications to housing and travel provisions.

“The American Hockey League continues to be fortunate to have an extremely positive and open relationship with our players and with the PHPA,” said David Andrews, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our previous CBA included several significant elements which have proven over the last several years to be beneficial to our players, our owners, and ultimately our fans, and this new agreement continues in that same spirit of cooperation.”

“Given the labor uncertainty currently at the forefront of professional sports, we viewed these negotiations as a means to create stability at our level of the sport, advancing the benefits and rights of current and future AHL players and their families, while simultaneously being mindful of the current economic landscape in North America,” said Larry Landon, Executive Director of the PHPA. “We surveyed the players last fall and asked them what they would like us to address in CBA negotiations. We feel this is a deal that incorporates revision or implementation of the various items suggested by the players and adds significant value for present and future AHL players.”

As it begins its historic 75th anniversary season tonight, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Since its inception in 1967, the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA) has continued to serve as an advocate of player interests. Currently, the PHPA is the certified, U.S. National Labor Relations Board collective bargaining representative for over 1,600 players on 67 teams in the American Hockey League, ECHL and Central Hockey League.

NEWS ON SIGNINGS

AHL Logo A few bits of news from the, “In-Case-You-Haven’t-Seen-It” file.

Corey Locke has signed a two way deal with the Ottawa Senators. Ex-Pack Captain Andrew Hutchinson has signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins and as we reported here first, Hugh Jessiman is about to sign a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks pending a physical.

Congratulations to one-time Wolf Pack and Charlotte Checker defenseman Dan Girardi, who avoided arbitration and signed a deal with the Rangers today. Next up is one Marc Staal.

From the “We’re-Glad–They-Did-It“ department, Howlings was happy to hear that the AHL extended the contract of League President Dave Andrews. Dave has been simply magnificent. Unlike his NHL counterpart, Andrews usually receives either polite applause or good ovations when he speaks at AHL events. He works ridiculously hard and is just a great person to deal with whether you’re a dopey blogger looking to be a responsible journalist or the head of a major company. Andrews has ALWAYS answered every query we’ve sent to him or talked with him about and as the saying goes, “It couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

Here are the official releases on Andrews and Girardi:

RANGERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH DEFENSEMAN DAN GIRARDI 

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with defenseman Dan Girardi on a new contract.

Girardi, 26, skated in 82 games with the Rangers this season, registering six goals and 18 assists for 24 points, along with 53 penalty minutes.  He was one of four Rangers to skate in all 82 games, and has played in 280 consecutive games, ranking ninth in the NHL among active streaks.  He led the team and ranked sixth in the NHL with 180 blocked shots, tied for second on the Rangers with 178 hits, ranked second in average icetime (21:29) and third with a plus-nine rating at home.  Girardi ranked second among team defensemen and ninth on the Rangers overall in even strength scoring, registering 19 of his 24 points at even strength, and he ranked third among club blueliners in goals and points, and fourth in assists.  The Rangers posted a record of 4-1-0 when he tallied a goal.  Girardi tied his career-high with a three-game assist/point streak from December 16 vs. the NY Islanders to December 19 at Philadelphia (three assists), and he recorded his first career multi-goal game with two goals on October 12 vs. Toronto.  On October 3, Girardi skated in his 200th career NHL game, registering one assist and a plus-three rating vs. Ottawa at Madison Square Garden.

A veteran of four NHL seasons, Girardi posted his finest offensive output during the 2007-08 season, establishing career-highs in goals (10), assists (18), points (28), power play goals (five) and shots (147).  His 10 goals tied for 20th in the NHL among defensemen, and he ranked second among team blueliners in goals, assists, points and power play goals.  Girardi also tallied a career-high, three playoff assists in 10 contests, recording his first NHL post-season point with a shorthanded assist on the game-winning goal in Game One of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup vs. New Jersey on April 9 at Prudential Center.  Earlier that season, Girardi notched his first career NHL goal with a power play tally on October 18 at Atlanta.

The 6-2, 215-pounder has skated in 280 career NHL games with the Rangers, registering 20 goals and 60 assists for 80 points, along with 128 penalty minutes.  As a rookie in 2006-07, he tied for ninth in the NHL among first-year players with a plus-seven rating, having posted a plus or even rating in 28 of 34 games following his recall from Hartford (AHL) on January 25, 2007.  The Rangers completed their 2006-07 campaign registering a 19-9-6 record with Girardi in the lineup.  Girardi tallied his first career point with a two-assist performance on February 17, 2007 vs. Philadelphia, and made his NHL debut on January 27, 2007 at Philadelphia.  In addition, Girardi has recorded three assists and 16 penalty minutes in 27 career playoff contests.

The Welland, Ontario native signed as a free agent with the Rangers on July 1, 2006

AHL EXTENDS CONTRACT OF LEAGUE PRESIDENT DAVID ANDREWS

The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors is pleased to announce that David Andrews has agreed to terms on a contract extension that will see him continue to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Hockey League through June 2015.

Andrews assumed the AHL presidency in 1994 and has solidified himself as one of the sport’s most influential executives. He has guided the league into unequaled times of prosperity, directing the AHL to record levels of attendance and exposure while significantly expanding its geography across the United States and Canada. As Andrews enters his 17th season at the helm in 2010-11, only Jack Butterfield (28 seasons) has served longer as President of the AHL. “All of us with an interest in the American Hockey League – our owners, our management, our fans, our partners and more – are extremely fortunate to have had the benefit of Dave Andrews’ leadership over the last 16 years as President and CEO,” said Rick Pych, President of Business Operations for Spurs Sports & Entertainment and Governor of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage. “During his tenure, the AHL has become a critical step on the career path for virtually every young player en route to the NHL. We are all thrilled that Dave will continue to lead us through the exciting years that lie ahead.”

Under Andrews’ direction, the AHL has become the sole primary development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams, and will be at an all-time high of 30 active teams beginning this fall. In 2001, Andrews led one of the largest expansion efforts ever in professional sports, a complex enterprise of bringing nine new cities into the AHL, including six from the former International Hockey League. The AHL’s footprint has grown dramatically during Andrews’ tenure, moving from a circuit of teams primarily on the Atlantic seaboard to one with successful franchises throughout the Northeast and Midwest, in major North American cities such as Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland, Houston, San Antonio, Winnipeg, Milwaukee and, in 2010-11, Charlotte and Oklahoma City. Andrews has also worked to ensure the league’s success in smaller historical and traditional markets like Rochester, Springfield, Hershey, Portland and Providence.

Since 1994, AHL action, including marquee events like the annual AHL All-Star Classic and the Calder Cup Playoffs, has reached international audiences on television networks including TSN, CBC, ESPN and NHL Network, on satellite radio and via live on-line video streaming. The league also boasts an impressive list of corporate partners who have looked to the AHL as an effective tool for marketing their products and services. In 2004, Andrews oversaw a historic multi-million-dollar, multi-year partnership with Reebok which remains the foundation for the AHL’s marketing, licensing and on-ice branding strategies.

A native of Nova Scotia, Andrews came to the league office with firsthand knowledge of the AHL, having served as the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate for seven years and winning a Calder Cup in 1993. His extensive hockey background includes serving as head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Cougars, serving on the development council of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association and working with SportCanada in preparation for the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary. Andrews was honored with induction into the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 2006