Hershey Bears

This is Jeannot Gilbert. Legend has it that after he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins (in the original 1967 expansion draft) Gilbert requested a trade back to Hershey. Reasons range from his taking a slapshot in the back of the leg and deciding the NHL wasn’t for him (I know, but that’s the legend) or that he enjoyed Hershey and the Bears so much he wanted to go back where he belonged.

Last night the Bears won their second AHL championship (the Calder Cup) in a row; it was their 11th (the league record) in their 74 years of existence.

If Steve Tambellini is looking for a suitable template for the Oklahoma City Barons, the land of chocolate would be a great place to start.

Consider the 2009-10 Hershey Bears roster:

  • D Karl Alzner: Former lottery pick looks like he’s NHL ready. Has already played over 50 games in the show.
  • D John Carlson: 2008 1st rounder got some NHL time and will certainly be in the mix this fall.
  • C Alexander Giroux: Scored 50 goals this season, backing up a 60-goal year in 2008-09. Someone hire this guy!
  • L Chris Bourque: Huge AHL season (70 points in 49 games) and 27 more in 21 playoff games. Small skill winger is better than a few guys making NHL pay.
  • F Keith Aucoin: 30-year old scored 106 points during the AHL regular season.
  • R Andrew Gordon: Scoring winger popped 37 in the regular season and 13 more in the playoffs.
  • G Michal Neuvirth: Young goaltender had a strong showing in the NHL (.914) and AHL (.919). He looks like the real thing, but is behind the Russian Varlamov and veteran Jose Theodore.

Those are 7 very good minor league players. Some excellent prospects on their way to NHL careers (Carlson, Alzner, Neuvirth) mixed in with “tweeners” looking for their next chance (Bourque, Gordon) and career minor leaguers who can make a difference (Aucoin, Giroux).

In 2009-10, the Oilers had prospects (Dubnyk, Peckham, Plante, Petry, Chorney), they had “tweeners” looking for their next chance (Reddox, McDonald) and they had career minor leaguers (Minard, Linglet, Wiseman, Fretter).

The difference came with regard to quality. Across the board.

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