First, a few comments and thoughts regarding training camp so far:
- The addition of Drayson Bowman to the roster is a great one. I’m anxious to see him on the ice at tomorrow’s scrimmage.
- I still have hope that Jeff Skinner will decide to report to the Checkers, even if it’s not until November. (Which means yes, I believe the lockout is going to continue at least until then.)
- I’m working on a “Case For and Case Against” on the training camp roster. With so many at camp, it is going to be tough to make the team. Expect three posts later in the week exploring the strengths and weaknesses of Checkers players and their chances of making the final AHL roster.
Since we’ve made it to the fourth and final installment of the “Getting to know…” series, it must mean that Hockey season is right around the corner!
Today, I share with you some great thoughts from Heather over at The Third Intermission. The Third Intermission is a great site with incredible Aeros content. They have a team of writers who all contribute and are even working on adding a photographer to their entourage. It’s well run and top-notch, so I highly recommend Checkers fans check it out.
Chasing Checkers – What can you tell us about hockey in Houston? It’s a city that boasts an NBA and NFL team, much like Charlotte. Has hockey found it’s niche?
The Third Intermission - Hockey is pretty much an afterthought at best for most in Houston. Generally there is enough sporting news in town (throw in the MLS Dynamo and MLB Astros, in addition to the minor league baseball team doing crazy stuff like having Roger Clemens pitch), that the Aeros get the squeeze until playoff time.
But the city does have a pretty transient population and we get quite a few Canadians coming from the Alberta oil companies, plus other northerners who already liked hockey, and of course, the smart natives who’ve just grown to love hockey because hockey is awesome. So the fan base that the team has, while not huge, is quite devoted, either to the Aeros or just hockey in general. But it’s still exciting when I see someone (away from the rink) with a hockey license plate frame or sticker or shirt, etc. I always want to high-five them.
CC - How is the relationship between Minnesota and Houston?
T3I - I think it’s fair to characterize it as a “little sibling” relationship, but in general, since the Wild own the Aeros, it’s fairly positive. And because Houston is a major airline hub, the distance between the teams is no issue at all. Believe me, many players racked up many frequent flier miles last season, as our roster was the craziest revolving door I’ve ever seen. And not only can they get to Minnesota quickly, they can get anywhere in North America quickly, so it’s a great place to have a farm team.
Honestly, Minnesota’s had a bad time with drafting through most of the previous decade, so a lot of guys have moved straight to Minnesota. Mikko Koivu, Brent Burns, Cal Clutterbuck, Derek Boogaard. That’s about to change, though. This year’s team is overflowing with highly touted Wild picks, and most will stick around even if the lockout ends, as the Wild’s roster is fairly set. I think the expectation is that quite a few of these guys will end up in the show in 2 or 3 years.
CC - What can you tell a new South Division team about life in the newly named division?
T3I - The consensus I’ve gathered is that everyone is expecting Oklahoma City to basically kick everyone else in the teeth. The Aeros will be pretty stacked with high round picks fresh out of junior, but OKC is stacked with #1-in-the-draft picks with NHL experience. Whoa.
Rivalries sort of ebb and flow but San Antonio and Houston pretty much hate each other from the word go every season. There’s always a chance of a pretty good gong show when they roll in to town. The Wolves have also long been a tense rivalry with Houston. I’m not sad to see less of them lately.
CC - Is there anyone Checkers fans should follow in the media or with the team to keep abreast of one of our new division rivals?
T3I - The Third Intermission is a great place for news and analysis on the Aeros. It’s 3 Aeros beat writers (me, Andrew, and John Royal of the Houston Press) joining forces to cover the team in a fairly relaxed, conversational way. We have a twitter, too: @3rdIntermission
CC – The Third Intermission has a full cast of contributors. How did each of you get involved in the site?
John – “I’ve covered the Aeros for the Houston Press since 2007, and with T3I since the beginning. I also cover the University of Houston Cougars and Rice Owls.”Heather – “For me personally, I’ve written for InGoal Magazine, Pro Hockey News, Hockey Wilderness on SBNation, and Backhand Shelf on theScore.com. This season, I’m going pro and covering the Aeros beat for the Houston Chronicle, which my parents are really excited about because I’m finally using that journalism degree they paid so much for.”Andrew – “I have covered the Aeros, in some capacity, since 2001-02, their first year in the AHL.
That first year, there was a weekly publication called Space City Sports. I was the Aeros correspondent, and I parlayed that into the Chronicle job the next year when the beat writer suddenly left the newspaper. I did the Chronicle Aeros beat for 10 years, and will continue to freelance and keep our Third Intermission Blog active. I am also an announcer for one of the college teams here in Houston, but my favorite freelance gig, by far, is covering the hockey team.”