Off-season, what off-season?
OK, vacation's over. Too much going on in Brahma Land and elsewhere.
So Amarillo and Corpus are gone and NAHL teams will "fill the void" in those markets. So be it. How pro hockey lasted for so long in either city is a mystery to me. Still, one hates to see a team (or teams) fold - mainly because of the fans. I mean the small core of true fans. Not the ones who went to a game because they got free tickets at work or the ones who manage to get to a game once or twice a season. I mean the real fans, the season ticket holders. The people who drop $400 on a game-used sweater. The ones who support the team during the good and mostly the bad.
Always wanted to get up to the Panhandle to see a Gorillas game but never made it. Too late now. Amarillo was at its best when the Brahmas (Fort Worth style) were at their worst. Once Wildfong's Brahmas hit the ice, the Gorillas downhill slide began.
I always enjoyed watching the IceRays play. Couldn't help but be happy (sort of) to see them finally solve the Brahmas this past season. I still think they were one of the most underrated teams in the league last season.
One of the biggest casualties of the Corpus thing may be Greg Rajan's blog. I don't know about you but I was on that thing every day. It's like the Drudge Report of the CHL and I hope it remains in some form or another. We've already lost Joy Lindsay's Laredo Bucks blog due to her (escape) leaving the Laredo Morning Times. Sad stuff - she was a fantastic blogger.
The whole Arizona Sundogs thing has been interesting. Not sure what the real story was on the relationship between the CHL and Consolidated Sports Holdings, but I get the feeling that Consolidated was happy to be out of there. They are putting the new NAHL team in Amarillo and recently purchased the league's Texas Tornado.
Looks like a new ownership group will be announced soon. I'm thinking it's going to be the Fain family - commercial real estate developers in Prescott Valley. They own and operate Tim's Toyota Center with Global Entertainment in a joint venture. I could be wrong, but they are the likely candidates.
The biggest story of the last few weeks has obviously been the integration of the IHL into the CHL. So now we have 18 teams - a CHL high if I'm not mistaken. This is going to be really interesting. Lots of rumors going around on this one but no matter what happens in the end, the coming season should be really different and I think, really good. We should have the conference alignment and schedule in the next couple of weeks. Watch for a very interesting schedule.
A side note on this whole affair. If you look at the map, the "new" CHL will have a tremendous footprint in the Central United States. Now overlay a map of ECHL cities on the East and West Coasts and you have the makings of a nationwide AA hockey league. In my opinion, something that needs to be, eventually. Just a thought.
Then there's the Brahmas. First let me say (and I say it all the time) that there's nothing worse than being an insider who can't tell you what he knows (or thinks he knows). But I have an understanding with Fonger and the team and they will announce new players when they deem it to be the right time. I didn't know about Burichin, but he looks like a solid kid.
If the moves I believe Fonger is making come to fruition, we may see a very different team this season - at every position. I'm going to go ahead and let this slip. For those of you who wanted "size" last season, you're going to get it this season.
I knew about Jaeger's departure several days before it was announced. Can't say I'm too happy about how it went down, but there it is. Jaegs gave a lot to the Brahmas organization and he will always be remembered fondly. Now what? With Jaeger and Palmer out, we suddenly have a void to fill in net. Hey - Larry Sterling is available now that Port Huron is gone. How'd you like to see that?
Stay tuned. More player signings will be announced soon.
Side-note: Most of you probably don't know but I've had some health problems that have kept me down for a couple of months but I'm back in (purple and) black and should have some regular posting starting up again very soon.
Photo Credit: Walter Tenery