I almost joined the masses today lighting up the torches and
carrying my pitchfork to O'Hare airport and booking my ticket to Vancouver and start
the "witch hunt". I looked at numerous message boards and almost fell for the
words that many were posting such as "Wolves and Canucks not a fan" or "Never
attend a Wolves game again". Then
suddenly I shook myself from the daydream..
Yes it was named officially today the Wolves are the
Canucks affiliate for the next two years and both sides were throwing up their
arms like the end of the world already happened. People were ready to throw
down the hockey gloves and take the fight to the streets after they heard the
news. Then when I realized what I read
over and over again, I took a breath and smiled.
Many hockey fans of the Wolves and the Canucks are casual
ones and love the team and use their heart to think instead of their head and
that could be why the outcry from both sides occurred today. I knew it was
going to happen but something that was posted on blogs and message boards were unbelievable.
People were already attacking other fans and ready to take a stand against the
Wolves and Canucks partnership.
Hopefully I can break down some of the basis of what occurred
today and hopefully put the empty threats and negative comments to a minimum.
First a few quotes from General Manager Wendell Young.
"The team is a family first time atmosphere and it's always
has been and Vancouver wanted the same thing"
"It's a fun an interesting time but the main thing is it
will be exciting seeing a fresh product on the ice"
Now those two quotes right there have to say something about
how the Wolves are known throughout the AHL and what feedback they are giving
from other NHL teams. The Canucks had the thought of having the Wolves as their
team all along and with the former Manitoba Moose being run the same way (NHL caliber)
why wouldn't the President's Trophy winners pick Chicago?
It all boils down to many fans old and new who will cringe
at the sight of seeing Vancouver prospects inside the Allstate Arena. It's already official and in place so it's a
simple GET OVER IT scenario. Sure not many like the idea because many Wolves fans are
Chicago Blackhawks fans but there is no reason to start
threatening others. It's childish and immature because the reality is this is
happening so it's better to embrace it then to continue to direct empty threats.
The players will still be wearing the Wolves logo and jersey
and like Herb Brooks said "You are playing for the logo on the front not the
name on the back" and this sort of fits into this scenario. Whatever players
this team gets they are hear for development and get them ready for a future in
the NHL. Or we could encounter what the fans endured last year?
If you had a choice of what team management you had would
you choose the old Atlanta brass that included Don Waddell or would you like
the depth of draft picks and scouts of the Vancouver Canucks? The results on
the ice last year were visible as the play was not consistent at all and at times down right disappointing. You had players who knew they weren't getting
a call up because Atlanta had no direction on what their entire organization
was all about. It affected the entire roster from the NHL and to the Wolves and
the play was affected.
Do the fans really want that? No it was a mediocre
season for the team and not many of the so called "Atlanta prospects" put up good enough numbers to help the Wolves get into the playoffs. I bid no ill will to any of
the new Winnipeg's prospects because a change of scenery is good for everybody once
and this goes for the new players the Wolves will receive in September.
Now onto more team news and that includes the dismissal of Don
Lever and Ron Wilson who were around with the Wolves for the last 2 ½ years. They did the best job they could with the team
they were given but in the end it all came down to upper management of the Atlanta
According to General Manager Mike Gillis there were never
discussions with anybody regarding the Wolves coaching job.
"I did not even consider Kirk Muller or anybody else
regarding the head coaching job. We were waiting on Claude Noel to see what
happened with his interview with the Jets, and with him getting the job we will
begin the search soon enough."
Gillis also mentioned that his staff and the Wolves have some
names on their lists that are the same, and they will compare notes and a new
coach should be found soon in the next few weeks.
So with the upcoming year the Wolves will have a fresh coat
of paint as you can call it from the top and bottom and the team hasn't seen
this much change since their inception into the AHL. Many hate change but in
the end it's the best sometimes and with the Wolves out of options, it was a
great choice to make this partnership happen.
So to the fans that are doubting this deal and don't want to
see what the new team will bring to the table, then I'm sure others won't feel
sad when the Wolves could secure another championship. It's a long shot right
now because the AHL talent is so easily displaced but with the quickness and
talent the Canucks prospects have it will be a mass improvement from last year.
Many fans are looking for a great product on the ice and
last year at times didn't seem that was noticeable. With the old players from the
Moose making their way down to the Midwest it will be a seamless transition
from a NHL type club, to another.