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The American Hockey League is apparently looking to build on the hockey connections between Sweden and North America, and build a little rivalry in the process.
The league has announced that this year's AHL All-Star Classic in St. John's NL will feature an inter-league game between a team of AHL stars the SHL's Färjestad BK.
This is a really cool idea, and one that will probably get tongues wagging about increasing the integration between North American and European pro-leagues. No word on any reciprocation by the AHL - but one has to assume that something could be in the works that will see an AHL team head to Sweden at some point.
So what’s going on in the world of minor league hockey? Anyone? No one knows? I’ll never quite understand that. I get that the AHL lacks the big names that the NHL has, but the game is the same. In some ways I think it’s better, though in the end I do care about the Stanley Cup a whole heck of a lot more than I do the Calder Cup.
Every year around this time I glance at the rosters of junior hockey and minor league hockey teams. I do this because I know that someday, one of them might be on my favorite team. Some of them could end up with their names on the Stanley Cup or in a race for the league scoring title. They’re unknown to me now, but maybe not in a few years.
Howard, Crosby, Doughty… All three are well known around the league now, but look back 5 or 6 years and they were pretty much unknown. They’re rich and famous today, but they got their careers started by riding buses and washing off in a shower with no hot water.
So this year, in the middle of all the stress, anxiety and joy of this years NHL season, don’t forget your local minor league team. You might catch a glimpse of future (or even past) greatness. And when you see one of those guys screw up and you think, “Wow, he sucks.”, don’t forget that we all gotta start somewhere.
And you can’t beat the price of admission.
An interesting debate has been brewing in minor hockey forums lately about minor hockey’s place in the world, and in terms of how the leagues are viewed stacked against each other. Hockey doesn’t have an extremely-clear minor hierarchy like baseball does, and now franchise movement form league to league has brought about questions as to whether they are parallel moves, or moves upward.
Where does “AAA” fit in, and is the KHL included? I’m including the KHL in the discussion because it’s an interesting twist, in a way…
Or what about the “AA”? ECHL has been considered traditionally as “AA”, but both CHL and IHL have made claims to being “AA” as well.
So it got me to wondering: how do NHL fans see the minor hockey leagues stack up against each other?
So… I’m turning to you guys, the readers of KK. How do *you* guys (primarily NHL fans) think the following minor leagues stack up (I’ve listed them in nor particular order), in terms of level and hierarchy? Please take the list below and respond in the comments with your listing, highest to lowest.
NHL… ECHL… KHL… IHL… AHL… CHL…
If you could, please also include some explanations as to why you feel that way.
Looks like Oskar Osala is finally getting the recognition he deserves. This kid has the entire package, size and a knack for scoring goals. When is this kid going to get a shot in the big club? Next year?
Taylor Hall may be less than two weeks removed from his 17th birthday, but he is already turning hockey heads as the projected first overall pick in his NHL Draft year. The amazing thing about this is that, because of his late birthday, Hall won’t be eligible to be drafted until 2010.
What this means for Hall is one more year playing for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL and one more year for NHL scouts to salivate over the slick center.
While talk about being the projected first overall NHL pick may be stressful for some 17-year-olds, Hall is taking it one stride at a time and is modelling himself after this year’s projected first overall pick, John Tavares.
“A player like me can see what [Tavares] is going through and how he handles it and you can see on the ice what he’s doing and how he has matured as a player. Hopefully I can do that,” said Hall. “I listen to a lot of his interviews and he has become a really mature man and hopefully I can do the same.”
Has there ever been such a dynamic and enthusiastic prospect as Nathan Gerbe before? Last night he potted 3 goals to lead Portland over Worcester.
It isn’t just his scoring or his disproportionate size to most other players that makes him shine, but rather his Favre like enthusiasm approach to the game.
This is really the difference between Ovechkin and Crosby, one plays with a smile on his face and the other seems to sour his mood after every play. With Gerbe you get talent, determination, along with a brilliant smile. You just have to see him play to believe it - he’s not just punching a work ticket each time he gets on the ice, but rather the arena seems to be where he comes to life.
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