BBG&CS: Abney & the Fall of Rome, Advanced Stats, Salary Cap going UP, Refs, Swedish Goalies, and is this IKEA or a Swedish Hockey Player?

Cameron Abney Takes on The World!!! (courtesy of the Bakersfield Condors) — For old movie buffs, Abney has always reminded me a bit of Victor Mature (in Samson and Delilah, 1949) — a man with a strong jaw, incredibly cheesy, but also impressive at times. On the other hand, this particular photo reminds me of Thomas Cole’s painting The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1836, which portrayed the destruction of the Roman Empire.

| Jonathan Willis takes us on a tour of the world of advanced stats and discusses the role of chance — “Every team’s record is a combination of true talent level and chance.”

“The best way to predict the future record is to, as much as possible, remove chance from the equation. This is what “advanced” statistics attempt to do. They provide unbiased fact, though of course there remains room for bias in interpretation. They provide better information than the outmoded numbers that too many still rely on. And, most importantly, they try to reduce the noise and isolate the true talent levels of teams and players. That’s why those numbers are important, not only for analysts but also for fans; they provide good information and can enhance understanding of the game.” — via Jonathan Willis at Bleacher Report.

| With the increase in revenue from the recent Canadian TV deals, the NHL salary cap is going UP!

“The NHL salary cap is projected to rise to more than $71 million in the 2014-15 season, TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger reported Monday. […] The projection would be about a $7 million rise from 2013-14 level of $64.3 million. It would also be the highest salary-cap level in NHL history.” — via Sports Illustrated SI Wire. See also: Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press.

| Here is a former NHL referee’s take on Shawn Thornton. If you have not read Paul Stewart’s blog, check it out occasionally. It’s well worth the read for a former NHL referee’s viewpoint:

“My take on this: Thornton went after the wrong guy for the wrong thing.” — via Paul Stewart, HockeyBuzz.

| James Mirtle explores the decline of Canadian goalies and visits Sweden to investigate how they are doing it better:

“Canadian goalies, long the dominant stoppers in the game, have slowly been disappearing from the NHL, losing jobs to their European and American counterparts. And with the 2014 Winter Olympics fast approaching, the country that produced such superstars as Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Ed Belfour now frets over who will mind its net in Sochi.” — via James Mirtle, The Globe and Mail.

| Is this a piece of IKEA furniture, or a Swedish Hockey Player? You take the test!

“[…] many of the items I saw in [IKEA] reminded me of Swedish hockey player names…. I’ve put together the below quiz, asking you to differentiate between professional Swedish hockey players and IKEA furniture.” — via Sam Page, Extra Mustard.

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– You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend. –

BBG&CS: $$$, Concussions, Dryden, Indy Fuel, Goalie Equipment, Backups, Brulé & Commodore

Photo: Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt in his backup goalie gear while working his usual job as the Capitals Video Coach. (Photo courtesy of the Capitals)

Thanksgiving is now over and for the past three days we have turned to that great post-Thanksgiving tradition of creative ways to make use of all of the leftovers. Today, Sunday’s brunch will be turkey hash! (I love hash and yes, it works well with turkey believe it or not! Comfort food at its best.) Meanwhile, in the hockey world a great deal has been happening the past week — team valuations, concussion lawsuits, Canadian TV deals, a new ECHL team, more on goalie gear changes, interviews and lots of talk about Gilbert Brulé’s recent signing(s)!

| Forbes has released their annual list of NHL’s Most Valuable Teams, and if you are wondering, yes, the lockout was very good to the NHL!

“The average NHL team now has an enterprise value (equity plus net debt) of $413 million, 46% more than a year ago.” via Mike Ozanian, Forbes.com and the full coverage of Forbes The Business of Hockey, and the NHL’s Richest Local Television Deals.

| Add to that the NHL’s most recent Canadian television deal with Rogers Communications:

“The 12-year agreement, announced jointly by the NHL and Rogers in a Tuesday morning press conference, is for $5.232 billion (Canadian). It’s the largest media rights deal in NHL history and one of the largest media rights deals in Canadian history. It is also Canada’s largest sports-media rights agreement.” via NHL.com.

| And what exactly does this all mean for the NHL, including U.S. teams you ask? Oh, a great deal!! And if you think the owners did not realize this prior to the lockout, you’ve been hiding under a bush:

“Total HRR had grown from $2.2 billion to $3.3 billion in the seven years between lockouts. The league expected to generate $1 billion more in national revenue over the next three years, with things like outdoor games and, oh, let’s see, a new Canadian TV contract. The owners would split that 30 ways.” via Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Yahoo Sports.

“It means your team will get an infusion of cash, with the Canadian clubs getting a little extra to make up for regional games that will no longer have blackout protection. […] While there is nothing firm for 2014-15, a couple of NHL general managers said they expect the cap to be close to the $70.2-million figure from the lockout-shortened 2013 season (Don’t forget there is a clause in the new CBA allowing for a five per cent “escalator” on the initial figure and only once in the previous deal did it go unused). Last summer, those same GMs said they’d been told to expect an $80-million limit in the not-too-distant future. Now, depending on outdoor games, a World Cup and the fact the annual media rights fee grows toward $500 million per season, I can’t help but wonder if we’re looking at an even higher number very soon. That’s really something.” via Elliotte Friedman, CBC.ca.

| Also this week, a group of former NHL players filed a class-action lawsuit against the NHL over concussions. Regardless what you might think, pro or con, I hope that this will be the much needed push for more precautions against concussion injuries in the NHL:

“Three years ago, Hockey Canada held a concussion seminar in Montreal. The participants received a packet that included a welcome letter from Ken Dryden, the Hall of Fame goalie and member of parliament. Dryden wrote about how we think back on the past and wonder why we could have been so wrong. He went from slavery to smoking to sports. Why did football and hockey players go so long without helmets? Why did hockey goalies go so long without masks? He wondered what people would think in 50 years about how we have handled head injuries.” — via Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports.

| Stu Hackel’s brilliant interview with Ken Dryden, talking about the 30th anniversary of the greatest hockey book ever written. If you have never read it, buy a copy NOW!

The Game, by Ken Dryden, has never gone out of print for good reason. It connects the reader with professional hockey players as few books have ever done by revealing that which is universally human in them, showing their strengths alongside their vulnerabilities and placing them within the context of a superior but sputtering team striving in a common effort to maximize their potential.” via Stu Hackel, Sports on Earth.

| Welcome a new team, the Indianapolis Fuel to the ECHL!

“Indianapolis will play its home games at the Fairgrounds Coliseum, a 6,145-seat building located on the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Coliseum was originally constructed in 1939, and is currently in the midst of a major renovation which began on Oct. 29, 2012.” — via ECHL.com

| And how’s the new goalie equipment changes working out?

“They were trying to get more goals, but maybe goalies are faster now,” said Jonathan Bernier, the Leafs netminder, flashing a devious grin. James Reimer, Bernier’s co-worker in Toronto, is certainly of the belief that he’s faster in his shaved-down gear, although he’s not particularly convinced the change has anything to do with his being on pace for a career-best season. “As much as it makes you quicker, it makes you less big, too,” Reimer said.”  — via Dave Feschuk, theStar.com.

|Speaking of goalies, how about this backup goalie for the Washington Capitals?

“Caps video coach Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt has served many roles with the team. He’s been the video-web guy, back-up goalie, DJ, video coach, crash-test-dummy, and during Friday’s 3-2 win against Montreal, back-up goaltender at the same time as being video coach.” — via Ben Summer, Capitals Outsider.

| Gilbert Brulé — KHL, Coyotes, KHL, Coyotes — you decide!

“2005 6th overall pick Gilbert Brule agreed to terms on a 1-year deal with Mike Keenan’s Magnitogorsk #Metallurg of #KHL” — via Igor Eronko (Sports.ru) (November 25th)

“Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney announced today that the Coyotes have signed forward Gilbert Brule to a one-year, two-way contract. As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.” — via Coyotes.NHL.com (November 30th)

| Fascinating interview with Mike Commodore who is now playing for KHL’s Admiral Vladivostok, a million miles away from Canada. He talks about everything from growing up a Flames fan, to his problems with the Blue Jackets, playing in the AHL, and hockey in Russia:

“Scott Arniel played pro hockey a long time at the NHL and AHL level. Scott Arniel didn’t think he was paid enough for the time he put in. He didn’t like guys that weren’t married. Because in his words “I wish you guys had a wife and kids when you came to the NHL so you know how much they cost”. He actually said that in a meeting. So needless to say if you were single with no kids (which I was and am) and you were making good money (I was the highest paid defenseman in the organization) you were in trouble. Big trouble.” — via Hermy11, The Breakdown.

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– You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend.  –

BBG&CS: OKC Transactions, Sunday Long Reads, Cornet, Hovinen, Sabres, Stars & Cowboys

Thanksgiving week is upon us and we are expecting some light snow today, moving in from the southwest, so relax, grab that second or third cup of coffee and sit a spell.

| For those of you who are a bit lost with the OKC Barons recent transfers, here is the list of November’s 32 transfers through this morning Nov. 24th. Yes, they’ve been busy with transfer paperwork. Normally the team announces transfers with a nice brief article … but we haven’t seen one of those in a while. Some of the transfers are “paper” only, Arcobello’s transfer for instance, and some players merely “passing” through on their way elsewhere, Chet Pickard for instance. This season seems to be one where MacT has a quick “recall” and “send down” trigger finger. I’ve now lost track of how many veterans are on the team here in OKC — there are limits to how many vets can play on a given night, so expect to see a number of them up in the stands each game night. And YES — there ARE a lot of Goalies, Centers and Defensemen moving around the organization this month.

DATE PLAYER TEAM   TRANSACTION
11/22/2013 Steve MacIntyre (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/19/2013 Jason LaBarbera (G) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/18/2013 Alex Lavoie (C) Oklahoma City DEL Released from PTO
11/18/2013 Curtis Hamilton (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/17/2013 Ilya Bryzgalov (G) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/16/2013 Alex Lavoie (C) Oklahoma City ADD Signed to PTO
11/16/2013 Mark Arcobello (C) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/16/2013 Oscar Klefbom (D) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/15/2013 Mark Arcobello (C) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/15/2013 Oscar Klefbom (D) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/12/2013 Corey Potter (D) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/12/2013 Taylor Fedun (D) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/11/2013 Ilya Bryzgalov (G) Oklahoma City ADD Conditioning loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/11/2013 Mario Lamoureux (C) Oklahoma City DEL Released from PTO
11/08/2013 Ben Eager (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/08/2013 Chet Pickard (G) Oklahoma City DEL Loaned to Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/08/2013 Chet Pickard (G) Oklahoma City ADD Signed to SPC
11/08/2013 Joel Broda (C) Oklahoma City DEL Released from PTO
11/08/2013 Laurent Brossoit (G) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/08/2013 Linus Omark (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/08/2013 Olivier Roy (G) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/08/2013 Roman Horak (C) Oklahoma City ADD Loaned from Edmonton (NHL)
11/07/2013 Justin Maylan (C) Oklahoma City DEL Released from PTO
11/05/2013 Linus Omark (LW) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/05/2013 Ryan Hamilton (LW) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/04/2013 Taylor Fedun (D) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)
11/03/2013 David Musil (D) Oklahoma City ADD Reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) from Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/03/2013 Martin Gernat (D) Oklahoma City ADD Reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) from Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/02/2013 Anton Lander (C) Oklahoma City ADD Returned on loan from Edmonton (NHL)
11/01/2013 David Musil (D) Oklahoma City DEL Reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) to Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/01/2013 Martin Gernat (D) Oklahoma City DEL Reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) to Bakersfield (ECHL)
11/01/2013 Philip Larsen (D) Oklahoma City DEL Recalled from loan by Edmonton (NHL)

— via AHL.com

| NHL.com has initiated  a new Sunday feature called “Sunday Long Read” which has been a very nice addition. This week Corey Masisak’s article “Sid vs. Ovi has defined generation” delves into the the long-standing rivalry between these two teams and players:

“With the city covered in two feet of snow, the teams played what will always be remembered in this area as the “Snowvechkin” game: a 5-4 overtime victory for the Capitals. Crosby scored the first two goals, and Ovechkin answered with a hat trick to help force overtime before Mike Knuble’s rebound at the goalmouth let Washington prevail.” — via Corey Masisak at NHL.com. And click here to read more Sunday Long Read’s.

| Two former OKC Barons players have been traded to new teams this week:

Philippe Cornet — Announced in [Nov. 22nd] AHL transactions, San Antonio Rampage have traded Cornet to the Charlotte Checkers in return for Adam Brace. All the best, Philippe!

Niko Hovinen — Metallurg Novokuznetsk has traded Hovinen to the Vladivostok Admirals. The road trips and airline mileage will be excessive for the Admirals, but I hear the seafood is fantastic there. Good luck Niko! — via ArtfulPuck.

| If you ever wondered what exactly a professional hockey equipment manager does, follow David Williams (@Hockeyequipmgr) of the Buffalo Sabres. His photographs will surprise and delight you with not only the facets of his job, but also the beauty of that side of the business:

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| Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames November 14th game. Kari Lehtonen is a cool customer. 

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| And just in case you were in hibernation last night, Oklahoma State (ranked 11th) beat Baylor (ranked 3rd) …. 49 to 17 last night in a very COLD college football game in Stillwater.

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– You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend.  –

BBG&CS: Ilya Bryzgalov — Lost in Translation

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you no doubt have heard the news that the Edmonton Oilers have signed Ilya Bryzgalov, the Russian goaltender who has been burlesqued, lampooned and ridiculed in the hockey media for the past three years. The hockey world as I’ve discovered is one in which a great many involved — teams, players, media, and fans alike — are very insular and even xenophobic on occasion. It is also at times a contradictory world of full-blown machismo and a “pour your heart out” mentality, which often lends further fuel to being lampooned.

Some of the reasons for Bryzgalov’s lampooning is his goaltending, but the rest is related to his own spoken words, which frankly and honestly, are very often lost in translation. Bryzgalov is a funny guy with great sense of humor, and he speaks from his heart, forthrightly, sharing a part of his soul, and wow, does he ever get beat up for that honesty and sharing. On top of all of that is the fact that English is not Bryzgalov’s first language, not to mention that he is Russian, which let’s face it, is an entire world away from North America culturally.

My advice for Edmonton fans and media this season is to focus on his hockey and the essence of his words and you will have a far greater understanding of this fellow. He is not your standard North American same old generic boring professional athlete’s quote, and in that respect he is a breath of fresh air. Terry Jones recently interviewed Bryzgalov following his signing with Edmonton and shared some nice quotes:

 | Regarding Bryzgalov’s short assignment in Oklahoma City in preparation for Edmonton:

“I am leaving in the morning. I think it’s going to be one week to get myself in good shape to go to Edmonton. I must play a couple games. If I’m not playing any games, I wouldn’t know what things to work on. Only the games show that.”

 | Regarding his preseason training with the Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL):

“Las Vegas was a great opportunity to work with the shooters. They shoot the puck on me. I couldn’t find any shooters here. I skate without the puck but I haven’t had any pucks shot at me in three weeks.”

 | Getting back to hockey and what he learned from his time in Philadelphia:

“It’s a good opportunity for me to play hockey again[….] You do more learning from the tough times you’ve been through. When times are difficult it forces you to think and do things you’ve never done. I learned a lot from these two years in Philly.”

| Bryzgalov’s reply to Jones when asked about Philadelphia:

“I just can tell you when the time right. I will write the book. You can read it then.”

 | Bryzgalov’s intent and hope about his upcoming season in Edmonton:

“I am looking forward to showing people about me. At the end of the year maybe you will make a statement about me.”

I am greatly looking forward to watching Ilya Bryzgalov in Oklahoma City for a few games. This will be even better than the entire Edmonton Oilers team coming to OKC. This season alone we have seen a nice group of NHLers come through OKC with their AHL teams: Manny Malhotra (Charlotte Checkers/Carolina Hurricanes), Aaron Rome (Texas Stars/Dallas Stars), Alexandre Bolduc (Chicago Wolves/St. Louis Blues) and now Ilya Bryzgalov. Welcome to OKC, Ilya! Удачи!

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– You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend.  –

BBG&CS: Calming Florida Beaches, Seth Jones, Chelios, Emery’s Craziness, & those sad Oilers

Cocoa Beach, FL (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

We are back to BBG&CS this week following my return from another road trip which, yes, included some hockey in Georgia and Florida, along with a lot of seafood and a few beaches. Can you seriously blame me for this break? Take a good look at that photo of the beautiful sand at Cocoa Beach, Florida. It was the end of October and warm enough to enjoy the water and soft white sand along the coast of Florida. I keep asking myself why I returned so quickly!

| Outstanding article on Seth Jones — I MUST get to a Nashville game soon to watch this kid play in person!

“Jones eyed this tangle in his path and, with his long arms, he smartly pulled the puck a few inches toward him and easily maneuvered to his left, deftly changing the shooting angle. In the same smooth motion, as Moen dove in vain behind him, Jones whipped the puck past Price’s stick, bulging the net.

Twenty-one thousand sat stunned. A manchild in enemy clothes had effectively ended the game. The entire sequence had taken all of five seconds, a complicated play made to look easy, something that a number of NHLers 10 years his senior could not have done.

Welcome to the NHL, Seth Jones.” — via Stu Hackel at Sports on Earth.

| Chris Chelios’ Lucky Break into hockey:

“The never-ending career of Chris Chelios never should have begun. At age 17 he tried to walk on a startup college hockey program in San Diego, of all places. He had mononucleosis. He got cut. If he was a prospect at that point, it was for a beer-and-pizza league. He was working, going to school, bumming around the beach.” — via Nickholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo! Sports. See also David Perron’s comment about Chelios below.

| Ray Emery’s crackpot beating of Braden Holtby:

“Holtby’s not the first player to get jumped and be an unwilling participant in a fight. But Holtby didn’t deliver a questionable hit. This wasn’t about retribution. This was about Ray Emery attacking a guy because he figured that’s what the locals wanted to see and because he’s terrible without the Blackhawks’ security blanket.” — via Greg Wyshynski at Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy. See also my opinion on this issue, Emery’s Debacle — A Sad Night for Hockey at ArtfulPuck; and see Gary Lawless’ tweet below about possible NHL rule changes related to this event.

| And for a much needed laugh …. Where’s Waldo? er, the Capitals?

| And what about those Oilers, folks?

There is a great deal of frustration at all levels of the organization all the way down to the fans, even OKC fans since the farm team is continually hit with reassignments. It’s part of the business, but it is hard to cheer when these farm boys are called up anymore. NHL games with the Oilers are not a great deal of fun at the moment. So, good luck to any callups (looking at you Fedun!) and the Oilers themselves, and may the future brighten considerably in the coming days, weeks and months. Something’s got to give, right? No, I’m not going to link to anything, I’ll just mourn them for a while, however, I will leave you with this calming moment … just listen to the soft crash of surf along the beach and feel the cool sea breeze against your face. Nice, isn’t it! — PT.

Sea Oats in sand dunes. Ponte Vedra, FL. (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

 

– You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend.  –

BBG&CS: Toque Mask, Ilya to Vegas, New NHL Rules and Youth Hockey’s start in St. Louis

| Best Mask EVER? Harding’s new mask certainly ranks high on my list of favorites!

“While most goaltenders represent just their team or their personal design on their masks, Harding has something different up his sleeve each year. These include a classic mask to raise breast cancer awareness, a tribute to his grandmother, one that paid tribute to his old buddies playing pond hockey, another for favourite band Rascal Flatts, and even one that was a tribute to all the Minnesota masks Miska created over the years. Harding and Miska always team up for something creative.

This year they have a simple design that works well for a state that is as familiar to cold winters and pond hockey as Canadian Harding would be from his days growing up in Regina, Saskatchewan. Miska has painted a ‘toque,’ the classically, even stereotypically, Canadian knitted winter hat.” via InGoalMag.com

| Holy Humongous Universe! Ilya Bryzgalov has signed a professional try-out agreement with the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers. Where do I by tickets, please?:

“Having a world-class player like Ilya in camp is a great opportunity for our organization and our players,” said Wranglers Head Coach and General Manager Mike Madill. “Operating independently of an NHL affiliation allows us the freedom to explore these types of opportunities, and we are thrilled to have Ilya here to work with us, and our goaltenders especially. It will be an amazing experience for them.” — via LasVegasWranglers.com

| As the new season gets underway, don’t forget the important rule changes for hybrid icing, a new enforcement of some old rules, visors and goalie equipment:

“The other item that the NHL is cracking down on is stick length for goalies, mandating a maximum length of 26 inches for goaltenders 6’5” or shorter. Up-and-coming Senators goalie Robin Lehner, who has used a 28-inch stick for years, explained to InGoal Magazine’s Kevin Woodley that the change had thrown off his positioning a little ….” — via Jonathan Willis

 | Outstanding article on St. Louis Youth Hockey’s start featuring the McKenna’s:

“The year was 1961, 52 years ago, and StL was between stints as a professional hockey outpost. After a 25-year run, including a two-season sabbatical for World War II, the St. Louis Flyers of the American Hockey Association had gone away in 1953, and the St. Louis Braves, the farm team of the Chicago Blackhawks, wouldn’t arrive until January 1963.

Still, there were passionate hockey people in St. Louis, primarily former Flyers who had married St. Louis women and settled here upon retirement – Eddie Olson, Shrimp McPherson and George Milligan, as well as former Flyers coach Ralph “Bouncer” Taylor, among them. A local also was at the forefront of hockey in St. Louis – Bill McKenna, who became smitten with hockey as a boy after the Flyers came to town in 1928.” — via Mound City Sports

| And if you are not yet aware, Jonathan Willis is stationed in OKC for a stint covering OKC Barons hockey. Welcome to OKC Jonathan! Give him a follow.

– You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend.  –