Views From The Press Box, Week Eight

Mired in a long winless streak and on the heels of perhaps their worst loss of the season Friday against Peoria, the Coyotes yesterday made a change behind the Rampage bench relieving Greg Ireland of his duties and promoting Assistant Coach Ray Edwards while hiring Mike Pelino as the team’s new assistant coach. Before I go further, let me just say this. Greg Ireland is a good person. He’s also a very good hockey coach with a track record long enough to prove it, and no doubt will find another job in this business based on his tireless work ethic and competitive spirit. But something was just inexplicable about how a team that scored 33 goals in their first eight games of the season and steamrolled through the rest of the American Hockey League suddenly lost it all in a span of a month. Sure, you can point to a bunch of trouble spots and even identify certain individuals that have been performing below expectations, but the bottom line was that whatever good will that had been fostered through the first three weeks of the season had completely vanished, and fairly or unfairly, a change needed to be made before the Rampage spiraled out of contention before Christmas. Sports are a results-driven business, and I’m sure Coach Ireland would be the first to admit that he wasn’t getting the results. Having said all that, I believe this is a well deserved opportunity for Coach Edwards to attempt to right the ship. Ray has six years of professional head coaching experience, most recently with the New Mexico Scorpions of the Central Hockey League, so this isn’t his first rodeo. He also has good experience in dealing with adversity after taking over a San Angelo club that had lost 37 games and doing a complete 180 by turning them into a team that won 37 games the following season. Still, the AHL can be very taxing on a coach on a nightly basis, and thus I think one of the reasons behind the hiring of Mike Pelino who has six years experience as an assistant coach at the National Hockey League and will serve as a good sounding board for Ray who is still very much a young coach in his own right. We’ll watch closely to see what effect the change has on the team beginning this week against Milwaukee, but even if it simply lifts the overall confidence of the Rampage, then there’s hope that good things are still to come this season for this young group…

…Many have emailed over the weekend asking about pending suspensions following what took place during the Peoria game Friday. Rod Pasma is the AHL’s new Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations this season, and having worked with Rod the past six years in the ECHL, I can tell you that he goes through a very meticulous process when it comes to issuing disciplinary action such as fines and suspensions because he actually outlined it for us one summer at the ECHL league meetings. Not only does he look at game film, but he also speaks with coaches, referees, and even sometimes the players to get their take on what happened before handing down any decision. Now reviewing the penalties that were handed out by referee Nygel Pelletier, the one suspension that may be automatic is Ryan Hollweg. Hollweg received a game misconduct for fighting other than during periods of a game after his altercation with Peoria’s Tyson Strachan. Based on AHL rules 47.8 and 47.19, if Hollweg was deemed to be an instigator of what took place after the game then he would be fined and automatically suspended for six games. If he was not deemed to be an instigator, then any fines or suspension would be at the discretion of the league. UPDATE: Hollweg and Peoria's Tyson Strachan each received a two-game suspension Tuesday afternoon under the provisions of AHL Rule 29.1 (supplementary discipline) for their roles in the altercation following the game. Hopefully that clears up any confusion…

…Rampage fans will get an opportunity to see a couple of former recent first round picks this Thanksgiving week with the Milwaukee Admirals in town. Former Boston University standout Colin Wilson, selected seventh overall by the Nashville Predators in 2008 (one pick ahead of Rampage forward Mikkel Boedker), was re-assigned to the Admirals last weekend. Wilson finished second in the country in scoring last season with 55 points in 43 games and led the Terriers to a national championship. He was logging better than 13 minutes of ice time with the Predators before his re-assignment to Milwaukee. Meanwhile goalie Chet Pickard has started the last two games for the Admirals and has won three out of his last four starts. Pickard was selected 18th overall in 2007 and helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal at last year’s World Junior Championships in Ottawa, Ontario…

…Hartford’s Corey Locke was a Rampage killer last season in Houston scoring five goals and dishing out 11 assists in just eight games against San Antonio. Now he’s just killing the rest of the league. Locke leads the AHL with 19 assists and 30 points in just 20 games so far this year. 19 of his 30 points have come on the power play where Hartford is a sizzling 26%, tops in the league. Even with Locke’s early season success, the Wolf Pack still sit in fourth in the Atlantic Division with a record of 11-8-1…

…Did you know that five current AHL players (Trent Whitfield, Alexander Giroux, former Rampage defenseman Bryan Helmer, Jason Krog, and Chris Taylor) all have a chance to reach 500 career regular season points by the end of the 2009-10 season? Only 75 players in the 74-year history of the league have achieved such a feat…

…Upset of the Week: Atlantic cellar-dweller Providence squeezed past division leader Manchester 5-4 Sunday by erasing a 4-2 deficit with three third period goals. It marked the first time in 11 games that Manchester has lost when leading after 40 minutes, and the first time in nine outings that Providence has won when trailing after two periods…

…Bring on those questions! Send your questions and comments to dweiss@attcenter.com. Be sure to follow “Views from the Press Box” on Twitter all season at “SARAMPAGE”.

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