Happy summer, everybody.
We’re at that point of the summer where the next big landmark day is when the AHL schedule is released. Sure, there may still be some free agent activity (Scott Ford just re-signed, and The Goalie Guild reported that Scott Darling has signed a two-way AHL-ECHL deal to be the #5 goalie in the organ-eye-zation this year), but the schedule is probably going to be the next big news day in our world.
The slate has come out in the middle of August the last two years, so there’s still plenty of the waiting game to play. But I’d like to share with you some of the behind the scenes information about the schedule making process.
Cue Admirals team president, Jon Greenberg.
“The process starts in February, but doesn’t end until August,” Jon says. That’s funny to me…the league celebrates its All-Star game, and then dives right into planning next season’s schedule.
“We are in an NBA building,” Greenberg says, “as are Charlotte, Lake Erie, and San Antonio, so we all have to wait for the NBA to give our co-tenants their dates so we can fill out our date submissions to the league.” The Bucks released their schedule July 27th last year, so we should know pretty soon what dates we WON’T be at the BMO Harris Bradley Center this season.
“Once we can do that, we see an early draft, a first draft, a second draft, and a final draft. There are many conversations between teams to make changes during this time and we all try to help each other out the best that we can.”
That’s nice to hear that there is such great cooperation between the clubs for this, especially with all the travel considerations the teams have to deal with as members of the esteemed Western Conference.
What does a perfect schedule look like in the eyes of the front office? According to Greenberg, it looks like the 2011-12 campaign.
“It has good spacing of home games, meaning no four-home-games-in-a-week stints,” And that’s a scheduling quirk we may not think about that often. Certainly we all notice when the team is out of town for awhile, but when there are four home games in a week? I know we’ve got some dedicated season ticket holders…but how easy is it for you to make all four that week? Life happens. And for the casual fan, it may be a tough sell to get them in the building for multiple games in the same week. So from a business perspective, I can see why avoiding that would be desirable.
Greeny continues about the perfect schedule, “It also has reasonable road trips that get us back home in relatively short order. No three week periods without home games. Without the ability to play four games in five nights, we’ll still have plenty of three-in-threes as we’re a weekend heavy league, but keeping the travel in those to a minimum makes them manageable.”
Thank you Rockford. Thank you Rosemont. Still a long bus ride to Grand Rapids and Des Moines, but it’s manageable.
The Admirals have announced that their home opener is set for Saturday October 19th. Same date it was last year too. But the season opens on October 4th. Does that sound like another early season road trip?
I recall Lane Lambert talking about how he kind of liked the early season road trips so that the players could bond as a team on the road, away from whatever distractions they may have had at home.
According to Greeny, this is NOT a special request that the team makes every year.
“The early road schedule is never requested per se, but is often a product of building availability. We’ve had major events in our building over the last few seasons which have kept us out for extended periods of time. We’d like to have a couple more home games early every year but haven’t been able to. Fortunately it has worked out in the long run.”
Greenberg also shares some news that…well….shouldn’t be news to most sports leagues. But it is for the AHL.
“We are indeed playing everybody in the West for the first time in many years. That means we’ll see Utica and Rochester, which should be fun, in addition to Iowa. It also means when we get to the home stretch in April and the playoffs, that we will have at least had a chance to see everyone.”
It certainly would have been weird if we had played Rochester in the first round of the playoffs last year….having not seen them since….the 06-07 season. Craig Anderson was in net for the Amerks. Karl Goehring and Pekka Rinne for the Ads. So it’ll be nice to catch up with them after all these years.
So while you’re eating all kinds of food-on-a-stick at Wisconsin State Fair, the AHL, Admirals, and the other teams will be putting the finishing touches on the schedule. While you’re there, raise a creampuff in appreciation of all the behind the scenes work going on.