Typically, I don’t consider a hockey season to be a success unless the team gets out of the first round. Sometimes that’s a reasonable goal and sometimes it’s not. This season with the Amerks, it’s not only completely reasonable, but it may be a low expectation. In fact, anything other than getting out of the first round should be considered a complete failure.
There are three main reasons for this opinion:
- Hockey is measured by winning in the playoffs. And this is the 2nd best league in North America and one of the best leagues in the world. The Amerks are the 8th oldest professional hockey team in North America and one of the most storied hockey franchises in the world. So, those who want to focus only a prospect development might not like this – but too bad.
- It’s the Amerks 60th anniversary season AND it’s been 10 years without a playoff series win.
- No expense was spared in bringing in high level AHL talent this season. For example, Cal O’Reilly is being paid $700k to play here.
What I really want is a new banner to hang, and when Buffalo is completely healthy the Amerks roster looks to be strong enough to compete for a Cup. http://www.letsgoamerks.com/roster/
Our D corps starting out the season is less than stellar, but add some or all of McCabe, Donovan and Sanguinetti to it and it looks just fine. Depending on how well (or not) Chapman adapts to the AHL game, some more depth might be needed even when everyone is here. And that added depth would be a positive for Elmira, as well. Signing Robak was a necessary move and one that probably wouldn’t have been done last season. I look for further signings like this to address needs that inevitably arise throughout every season.
Goaltending is a wildcard. Is Lieuwen healthy…..When will Ullmark be healthy and is he the real deal…..can Makarov bounce back….can Motte provide some insurance as awesome as his helmet? These are all questions without answers as we begin the season.
The quality and quantity of our forward depth hasn’t looked this good since the 2009-2010 team, which featured the likes of Mink, York, Taffe, etc. And I expect this group to even be better. There is an excellent mix of high quality veterans (ex. O’Reilly), returning players who continue to improve (ex. Varone) and top notch young talent who can actually be called prospects (ex. Baptiste). I expect our special teams to be just that – special. Our depth can be summed up by pointing out that RIT legend Matt Garbowski is with Elmira.
Cunneyworth and Fixter head up the best coaching staff we’ve seen since the 06-07 season with Cunneyworth and Mantha. Cunneyworth the now seasoned Amerks legend returning to restore our glory….and Fixter has some fire and passion that I think is necessary from behind the bench, especially for a franchise who has only won cups with fiery coaches: Crow, Iron Mike, Boxie and Torts. The hockey Gods want that here!
I hope everyone is looking forward to the start of the Amerks 60th season and I look forward to being back at the ole hockey barn beginning tomorrow night.