The View From The Booth...Champs Edition

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another edition of “The View From The Booth.” If you haven’t heard, the 2010-11 Monsters season will begin on Friday, October 8th, 2010 at The Q against the Syracuse Crunch.

The following night the Monsters will skate at War Memorial Coliseum in Syracuse. This coming season will be the 75th in AHL history and the Monsters and the city of Cleveland will be a big part of that celebration, which features the opening weekend of the regular season. It’s a big honor for our organization to be a part of the opening weekend throwback festivities, as Cleveland was one of the original AHL cities.

Personally, I can’t wait for the season to start and I can’t wait to see what 2010-11 brings for the Monsters and the great hockey fans here in the Cleveland area.

As for the game on ice, we’ve reached the midway point of June and hockey season is now officially over. The Chicago Blackhawks ended their four-decade Stanley Cup drought with a six-game series win over the Philadelphia Flyers. In the Calder Cup playoffs, the dominant Hershey Bears capped off the 2009-10 season with their second straight Calder Cup Championship.

I’d like to revisit some predictions from the last column I wrote. I liked the Blackhawks in six games vs. the Flyers and the Bears in six games over the Texas Stars. I just felt the Blackhawks had too much skill and depth for the Cinderella Flyers to overcome, which they did. As for the Calder Cup Finals, I felt Hershey just had too much talent and depth for the Stars to overcome, which they did.

Hopefully next year at this time we are talking about the Monsters in the Calder Cup Finals. That would be an awesome experience for all of us who cheer on the Monsters!

As for the Calder Cup Finals, the Hershey Bears did things the hard way, losing the first two games of the series at home before winning four in a row to hoist the Calder Cup for a second straight year. Texas had an incredible run to the Finals, but they could not match up with the Bears, who are loaded from top to bottom.

After dropping the first two games at home, the Bears then headed to Cedar Park, Texas, where they reeled off three straight wins before going back to Hershey where they won the Cup in front of their home fans at a sold out Giant Center.

Personally, I think the Washington Capitals will take a long, hard look at the Bears personnel during the offseason and consider calling up some of the young prospects that have made the Bears back-to-back Calder Cup Champions. I think the Caps have immense talent, but there are a few players that I think could benefit the Caps that are playing in Hershey right now.

As for the Texas Stars, what a run they had in their inaugural season down in Cedar Park. The three games in the finals that were played in Cedar Park were standing room only crowds, something that I think would happen here in Cleveland when the Monsters make the Calder Cup Playoffs. That’s the goal and dream for our organization again this season.

In other organization news, the Colorado Avalanche, the Monsters parent club, has resigned three players this offseason already. Adam Foote is resigned for one more season. Backup goaltender Peter Budaj and tough guy David Koci have also been resigned.

I can’t wait for the upcoming NHL draft later this month that will be held in Los Angeles and then the free agency signing period that gets underway on July 1st. Things will start to take some shape for the Avalanche and our club here in Lake Erie once that signing period begins.

Now, I’ll look back on the Stanley Cup Finals. The Chicago Blackhawks, to me, are a very deserving champion this season. They had extreme talent, great depth and a great mix of veterans and young up-and-coming players and a goaltender that got hot at the right time.

Many of the Blackhawks young players earned promotions from the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, and it’s always good to see the AHL benefit the NHL teams. Case and point: The Monsters helping the Avalanche rebuild and reload for the future. Monsters general manager David Oliver and his staff have done a great job over the last three seasons in developing players and getting them ready for the NHL, and that’s the name of the game in the AHL.

But let’s get back to the Blackhawks now. The Hawks have two of the great young leaders in hockey today, captain Jonathan Toews and Buffalo, New York, native Patrick Kane. Both players are in their early 20s and can barely grow playoff beards, but did they ever do an incredible job in leading the Blackhawks to the Cup.

Toews won the Conn Smythe, the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP award, while Kane scored the game winner in game six. It seemed like Kane was the only person in the arena that realized he had won game six in overtime and brought the Stanley Cup back to Chicago for the first time in 41 years.

The parade to celebrate the Cup in Chicago was second-to-none in my opinion. An estimated two million people turned out for the parade and rally in downtown Chicago.

Speaking of millions, how about the record number of viewers that watched this year’s Stanley Cup Finals in the United States and Canada? The numbers in both countries were incredible and set records, and you can see more on those numbers in a feature that is currently posted on nhl.com.

In closing, we are just over 100 days and counting until the Monsters fourth season begins. We are all very excited and all of us are working hard to prepare for the coming season to make sure that on every front we give you the best experience possible. Whether it’s in the arena during games, on the radio and TV broadcasts or on the Internet and our website, LakeErieMonsters.com, big things are in the works and on the way for the coming season.

Coming up throughout the remainder of the summer we will be reaching out to some of our players to catch up with them and talk about the past season and what they’re doing in the offseason to prepare for the coming year. We’ll keep you posted on that. Those interviews will be done in radio style format with the interviews getting posted on our website for you to enjoy.

Enjoy the summer, and I will be in touch soon with another edition of “The View From the Booth.”


Sincerely,

Ben Holden

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