|with Springfield Falcon's Asst. Coach Phil Russell
The 2005-6 season of the Springfield Falcons will have come to an end by the time this article goes to print and no Play-Offs are on the horizon for another year. What should we do? Fire the coach? Fire the manager? Find a new affiliation, or all of the above?
Looking around the Atlantic Division of the American Hockey League, I have to observe that getting points on a nightly basis can be very difficult. I will look directly at the Portland franchise that will probably win the divisional title this year, and admit that they seem to have done it right. They started strong with the transplanted Cincinnati franchise and moved some players into Anaheim and never seemed to miss a beat. Their adverse situations, like all teams have, were used as character revealers. Not as a crutch but as a boot in the butt. They even have gone through the ordeal of a defenseman's career ending with an eye injury. Anaheim has done a very good job of cutting the fat out of its organization and moving in the right direction. Moving fat cat's like Fedorov and Sykora and opening up room for Getzlaf and Perry, who helped get Portland off to that good start. Congrats and good luck in the playoffs. That's all one can say when you're not in.
The Pesky Birds of Prey have made modest moves forward but there is much work to be done. When I mention cutting the fat out it means getting rid of the out of shape, over paid guys and replacing them with players who are interested in team. The "disease of self" inflicts itself in not only the dressing room but all over the place. I'm talking about the person that would rather fake to the open guy and shoot himself, the guy that makes sure his drink is cold and forget about the new guy who doesn't have one. You know who I am talking about. Players that want to know what the organization is going to do for them and not what they can do for the organization. The Falcons have managed to win 4 more games this year so far, won 6 more on the road, scored 50+ more goals, these are modest but positive moves.
Hey, we have the AHL Community Service Man of the Year in #29 Mitch Fritz! This is a person who puts his team and the community ahead of self every day. Congrats Big Bear! The owner and staff at Memo's in West Springfield told me that Ryan Vesce and David Spina were the nicest young men and that makes a coach feel good. Our organization has some fine young men and we are getting better, let's look forward to 2006-07
Contact Coach Russell at email@example.com