View From the Booth...50 Days Away!

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another edition of "The View From the Booth." The countdown continues to the season opener for the Monsters, as we are now roughly 50 days away from the opening puck drop at The Q on Friday, October 8th against the Syracuse Crunch. I can't wait for that night to be here so we can all start enjoying some exciting, hard-hitting Monsters hockey in the 2010-11 season.

A couple of key members of the Monsters staff are in Cleveland for the next couple of weeks. Dusty Halstead, our equipment manager, is back for his second season with our club, and Brent Woodside, who is set to begin his first season as our athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach, is in town. Both men are such vital contributors to our team. Halstead, along with help from longtime assistant equipment manger Phil Simon, are the guys who keep our players in tip-top shape in terms of skates, sticks and everything and anything that has to do with equipment. Both men work extremely dedicated and are two of the best I've ever been around.

At this point of the year Halstead is going through old and new equipment and stocking his equipment room at our practice facility in Strongsville. From jerseys, to pants, to gloves, there is a lot of work that has to be done before our players arrive in Cleveland at the end of September after Avalanche training camp is complete in Denver.

Speaking of equipment, there will be an upcoming Monsters equipment sale that will take place at Hoover Arena in Strongsville. It will be your chance to buy, at a discounted price, some authentic gear and equipment that was worn and used by the Monsters players. You can keep tabs on that in the coming days on our website for more details.

As for our new trainer and strength and conditioning coach Brent Woodside, I had a chance to meet him earlier this week. First off, he's a great guy that I think will fit right in with our team. Secondly, he brings an extensive background in his field and in the sport of hockey to our staff. Woodside has spent the last few years perfecting his craft in the Central Hockey League, most recently working with the Allen Americans. Coming soon to our website will also be an interview I did with Woodside earlier this week. We talked about his move to Cleveland and the AHL and what he intends to focus on with our players for the coming season.

There are a couple of videos up on our website from our recent Monsters youth hockey clinic that was held over two days. Our youth hockey specialist Ben Shank and his staff did a great job with that. One of the videos features shots and clips of several of the participants from day two at Hoover Arena and an interview with Ben. If you have questions regarding anything youth related, please reach out to Ben at 216-420-0000, and he will be glad to help you out.

Earlier this week it, was announced there will be another outdoor hockey game played. It will take place in the Western Hockey League, one of the major junior leagues in Canada. I've seen a couple of articles written about the topic and the question was posed: Has it gone too far with outdoor games being played? Personally, I don't think so. Let's remember, hockey was originally played outdoors in the elements with the wind, the cold, the snow, etc. I think it's awesome that our great sport gets that kind of exposure. I speak from experience on this topic.

When I worked in Lansing, Michigan, as a sports anchor/reporter at WILX-TV from 1998 to 2004 I was fortunate enough to cover the game that really set the bar for these outdoor games. That game was played at Spartan Stadium, home of the Michigan State football team. The Spartans hockey team, then coached by Ron Mason, faced off against their arch-rivals, the Michigan Wolverines. Both teams were loaded with future NHL stars. But what I remember the most about that game was the build-up and, simply put, the electricity that was in the air the entire week and especially the day and night of the game.

Over 70,000 people attended that game, which ended in a 3-3 tie after Atlanta Thrashers first round pick Jim Slater scored for Michigan State to tie the game with less than one minute left in the contest. The game came off without a hitch; everything about it was awesome for fans, the teams, the universities and the sport of hockey. It truly opened everyone's eyes to outdoor games.

Today, the NHL has made the New Year's Day game a tradition. I love what they've done with it. It's great for our sport. And how about this: On December 11th at "The Big House" in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Michigan State will meet again on the ice and play in front of a world-record crowd. The game sold out earlier this summer and more than 100,000 fans are expected to witness it in person.

Here’s an idea: How about the Monsters face-off against the Grand Rapids Griffins at Progressive Field? I think Grand Rapids would be great because of their proximity to Cleveland and the fact that the Monsters have developed a nice rivalry with the Griffins. Just an idea, but I would love to see it. With our marketing and management staff, I think it would be awesome and top notch!

Our schedule should be completed sometime next week and it will give our great fans a chance to start planning their nights and weekends around Monsters hockey. As soon as it's completed it will be released on our website. The excitement continues to build, and I speak for all of us with the Monsters, we are all extremely excited for things to get underway as we close in on the fourth season of Monsters hockey at The Q!


Ben Holden

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