J.P. Hoornstra, The Reign Reigns
With plenty of ECHL news coming down recently, I asked Karl Taylor to weigh in. Here's what he had to say ...
... on the Alaska Aces' second ECHL championship in six seasons:
"This year, they went younger. They had an older group but some rookies as well. Brent (Thompson, the head coach) did a good job this year. I tip my hat to their organization. We swept 'em this year. they usually have a .750 win percentage at home. Travel is tough. They have an Olympic ice surface. They have some advantages and they do a good job of exploiting it. Tight now they're the mark. We have to do what we can to shake them down."
... on the schedule released Tuesday:
"I don't think anyone's ever perfectly tickled. This one, we worked hard on it to make changes, make it as palatable as possible, the best we could for ourselves. It's definitely an improvement and going in the right direction. The home games, there's a good balance. We'll have less hotel nights this year. A couple extra flights this year than we've had in the past. There's going to be things you like and don't like."
... on intra- and extra-divisional games:
"We have 34 divisional games and 38 against the other side. We're 5 games at home and 6 away with Alaska. Eight at home, 4 away against Stockton. Vegas, 5 at home, 7 away. Bako 6 home, 4 away. Colorado, 4 at home and 7 away. Idaho, 3 home 4 away. Utah, 5 home 4 away. There isn't a real big rhyme or reason for the number of games against each opponent. It's based more on travel, trying to accommodate weekend dates and the priorities the governors need to make to create revenue."
... on the addition of the Colorado Eagles:
"You never want to lose a team, but Victoria has moved on and we've replaced them with another team in Colorado. At least we have the eight teams, which I think is a plus. Colorado has been very successful in the Central League. It seems like they have a good fan base and they have a good program there. It'll be a new team for fans to see.
... on Eagles head coach/GM Chris Stewart:
"He's Canadian. He coached close to Red Deer when I was there. I don't know him personally. He's been in Colorado for a long time. He stepped away from coach (for two seasons) then got back in. He's been very involved with that organization."
... on what style of play to expect from the Eagles:
"You can't really - coming from the Central League, which is a different league, he'll have to adapt and put his own foot forward. I've never seen his teams play so it's hard to guess."
... on the practical implications of not playing any teams based in Canada:
"I don't think it's a huge issue. It'll affect us a little bit. ... We used to use Victoria as a tag-up to us, to process our immigration. It'll afffect my job administratively, but that's about it."
... on where he is in the process of shaping next year's roster:
"We put out a protected list today with 30 guys on it. It doesn't mean a whole lot. We're calling around, recruiting, doing everything we can to sign the guys we want back and find out guys we want next year. A lot of guys are hoping to get something. The top-end players are always hoping they sign at a higher level, so you want to be careful how you spend your money. It's early in the process."