Blogs | 10/3/2013 3:12:51 PM | DON STEVENS
| Don Stevens won the 2013 Ellery Award
After a very enjoyable summer, it’s time to get back to business. We begin what could be the most exciting season in the history of the franchise. There are certainly more “major” events this season than any since I’ve been here.
The first year I arrived on the scene (1986) was a season to remember. Not only was it a championship year, but it was also the first year of the Hall of Fame, with so many greats being enshrined for the inaugural class. It was also the 30th anniversary of the franchise and there were lots of special promotions to commemorate that.
When you look at what’s ahead this season, it’ll be another one to remember. The outdoor games aren’t a novelty anymore, but I don’t believe any other team has turned it into a 10-day extravaganza. The Frozen Frontier event in December will be an event to set a new standard for outdoor classics. Then shortly after that, the Amerks will finish up 2013 by once again participating in the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. And after that… it’ll be the “push to the playoffs.”
OVER THE SUMMER
Kudos to the Amerks Alumni Association for putting on another great golf tournament (August 19th). It was so nice to see some of the players we don’t get to see much of anymore. My broadcast partner of many years, John Bednarski, probably gets the prize for the furthest traveled, making his way here from Florida. Paul Brydges made it in from Ontario, and I hope he’ll be able to make it around more in the future. We also saw Clarke McArthur, Nathan Paetsh, Randy Cunneyworth, Scott Nichol and most of the locals. Gates Orlando was there and even played some… He’s looking great with his new “ticker” and I’m so happy to see him getting back to his old self. And we also discovered that my current broadcast partner, Ric Seiling, makes an outstanding auctioneer!
Congratulations to the Amerks Booster Club for hosting the annual AHL Booster Club Convention (September 7 & 8). It was a pleasure speaking to the group. I was very pleasantly surprised by the participation, as there were several hundred here for the event, including some from cities that are no longer in the league. Again, well done to “our” boosters.
Unfortunately there are also sad times to look back on. So sorry to hear about losing for Amerk defenseman, Barry Smith. I never knew him as a player, but rather as a coach. He coached my son, Scott, with the Junior Monarchs. RIP Barry.
This is the time of year when every team in the league feels they have a squad that will take them a long way. I’m feeling the same right now. At the first pre-season game, I was very impressed by the speed. It did slow down a bit as the game progressed, but it certainly looks like there’s some excellent talent with great “wheels.”
While the team looks very young, I have to be quite impressed with the veterans that have been added in. Needless to say, Mike Zigomanis is one of the best at this level. I really like defenseman Drew Bagnall and what more can you say about the return of Captain Matt Ellis? Colton Gillies adds size and experience having spent the last couple seasons in “the show.” Even though they are in their early 20’s, guys like Brayden McNabb, Luke Adam, Nick Crawford and Phil Varone certainly bring with them a lot of experience.
Unfortunately, the Buffalo Sabres suffered several injuries during the preseason. And each time there was a long-term injury, it meant one less player that would be making his way to Rochester. On the plus side, from here on, each time a player returns to the roster in Buffalo, another player would be send to the Amerks (baring further injuries).
As I look at the overall Sabres system roster, I think the depth for young, very talented, players is the best it’s ever been. Through some excellent drafting, the future looks very bright.
I’ll take this opportunity to welcome Rob Sanderson into a much larger role on our broadcast team this season. He will be the “host” of our radio broadcasts, providing you all the things you need to know in the pre-game, intermissions and post-game. We also welcome Steve Hullings of Clear Channel, who will be responsible for the technical side of things and will also be heard on-air during the broadcasts.
So, tighten your seatbelts and hold onto your hats….. 2013-14 should be something very, very special. Looking forward to seeing all of you again, and PACKING the barn!