This is Larry Robinson wearing the uniform of the legendary Nova Scotia Voyageurs. The AHL team is the Gold Standard for farm clubs, so strong through much of their existence it is not a stretch to suggest they could have played in the National Hockey League and won a lot of games.
Robinson played only one full season (and half another) in the AHL. That team won the AHL championship and boasted a plethora of future stars: Robinson was joined by future NHLers Bob Murdoch and Dale Hoganson on the blue, goalies Wayne Thomas & Michel Plasse, and a forward group that included Chuck Lefley, Yvon Lambert, Murray Wilson, Chuck Arnason and others. They were loaded.
The coach for the 71-72 Voyageurs? Al MacNeil. The same Al MacNeil who led the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley as coach the previous season (“lead” might be a stretch but he was the coach) and was replaced after a very public feud with Henri Richard during the long and difficult run to the championship that spring.
We know that the position of coach is huge in hockey. It doesn’t have the star appeal of being an NFL coach or MLB manager but it’s a pretty important job.
Minor league coaches have a big job: turn the kids who aren’t good enough to make the huge leap between amateur and the NHL into something useful in a three or four year period. The AHL doesn’t get to see the Ales Hemsky’s, the Sam Gagner’s, the Andrew Cogliano’s.
In a normal AHL season you’d see two or three guys emerge as real NHL options, a couple fall away and a few get hurt. This season has seen bitter disappointment for most of the roster, with only Theo Peckham, Ryan Potulny, Gilbert Brule and Liam Reddox looking like they’re going to cover the bet. I’d also suggest that Devan Dunbyk is having a season that we can look at as being a success (more on this at a later time).
The Oilers fired Jeff Truitt today and brought in Rob Daum as his replacement. On the face of it, this looks like a good move. The Falcons were playing poorly and there is some evidence that the wrong players were sitting and the wrong players were playing.
The Edmonton Oilers have been diddling around with their minor league teams for years now, from Hamilton to Edmonton to Hamilton (shared) to all over the place to Springfield. How much impact these movements have had on the careers of Marc Pouliot, JF Jacques, Jeff Deslauriers, Rob Schremp and others is anyone’s guess.
What is certain today? The Edmonton Oilers are not the Gold Standard in terms of how to ice a successful AHL team and it has an impact on the organization’s ability to call up qualified people to the big club when the need arises. I read somewhere in recent days that the Oilers are “grooming” Rob Schremp in the same way the Detroit Red Wings ready their troops.
I don’t think that’s it.