Kudos to AHL for getting radical with fighting, shootouts

Ken Campbell
AHL fight

Sometimes change trickles up and other times, it trickles down. In the case of the rule changes recently adopted by the American League, it will be interesting to see whether or not those holding the levers of the NHL take notice.

At its board of governors meetings this week, the AHL passed what can only be described as radical rule alterations. And I use the term “radical” keeping in mind that significant change sometimes moves at a glacial pace in this sport. But give the AHL credit. It made positive moves on two of the most controversial, debated and polarizing issues facing the game today: fighting and shootouts. Read more

AHL rule changes include 3-on-3 overtime, and that’s awesome

Matt Larkin
ahl big logo2

The American League just got a whole lot more interesting.

At the end of the NHL farm circuit’s Board of Governors meetings Thursday, the league announced a slew of rule changes for the 2014-15 season. It’s more than fair to think of these changes as experiments for future NHL implementation, as there’s a precedent for rules starting in the AHL and moving to the NHL. That’s fantastic news considering what the changes are.

The most prominent: the introduction of 3-on-3 overtime. The league states:

Full playing strength will be 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play (4:00 remaining), at which time full strength will be reduced to 3-on-3 for the duration of the overtime period.

If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.

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See Patrik Nemeth score in OT to win the Calder Cup for Texas Stars

texasstars

The American League’s Calder Cup championship was decided in a similar way the Stanley Cup was at the end of last week.

Tuesday night the Texas Stars and St. John’s IceCaps played Game 5 of the Calder Cup final and it went into overtime. With the Stars holding a 3-1 series lead, they had a chance to close out the championship on the road.

And that they did. The Stars took a 2-0 lead in the game before the IceCaps roared back to take a 3-2 advantage. Texas tied it up again with less than 10 minutes to go in the third period. And, in the dying minutes of the first OT period, Texas’ Patrik Nemeth scored the championship goal with this nifty move. Hey, that looks like a Patrick Kane backhander. Read more

Brett Ritchie hoists Calder Cup. Next stop, Dallas and the NHL?

The Hockey News
Brett Ritchie

By Sean Shapiro
It was like being the new kid at school – if you arrived just in time for exams. With the exception of a morning skate, Brett Ritchie didn’t even have a chance to practice with the American League’s Texas Stars before making his 2014 Calder Cup Playoff debut in Game 6 of the second round against the Grand Rapids Griffins May 18.

Nursing an injured ankle back to health, the second-round pick (Dallas, 44th overall in 2011) missed the Stars’ first eight playoff games and hadn’t played since April 13 against the San Antonio Rampage.

Not knowing how the ankle would hold up or how he’d feel jumping into a playoff series against the defending Calder Cup Champions, Ritchie shook off some early jitters and scored in a 7-1 series-clinching victory. “It’s good, it gives you some confidence around the net,” Ritchie said. “I didn’t feel very comfortable around the net at the start of the game, but for that one (goal) to go in, it kind of bounced me back to where I was before I got hurt.”

Ritchie, recapturing his pre-injury form, provided a much-needed boost for Texas as it battled through a seven-game series with the Toronto Marlies to reach the Calder Cup final and a five-game series against the St. John’s IceCaps to win the AHL title. The Orangeville, Ontario native had 11 points in 13 post-season games, two of which came in Tuesday’s 4-3 Game 5 OT win that clinched the Calder Cup for Texas. Read more

Five NHL prospects to watch in the Calder Cup final series

Brian Costello
Dallas Stars v Winnipeg Jets

This year’s Stanley Cup final series is one of the most geographically challenging we’ve seen in a while. Los Angeles and New York are separated by 2,450 miles and three time zones.

But the two finalists in the American League are a little farther apart. Cedar Park, Texas, home of the Texas Stars, and St. John’s, Newfoundland, home of the St. John’s IceCaps, are separated by 2,648 miles.

The farm teams for the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets begin their playdown for the Calder Cup Sunday in Texas. Here are the top five NHL prospects to watch in the AHL championship series.

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Is Dustin Tokarski really outplaying Henrik Lundqvist?

Tokarski

The only downside to the Dustin Tokarski story at this point, at least from a personal financial perspective, is that it’s not happening during the regular season.

You see, Tokarski is on a two-way deal, which is really good if you’re playing in the NHL during the regular season, not so good if you’re playing in the playoffs when players do not pick up paychecks. Tokarski’s NHL salary is the league minimum $575,000 and he spent 23 of the 195 days of this season on the Canadiens roster. That means he picked up $67,821 in NHL salary, but spent the bulk of the season pulling down $80,000 in the minors. The good news for Tokarski is that if he plays in the minors next season, his salary goes up to $135,000 and in 2015-16 his contract becomes a one-way deal, which means he’ll make $575,000 regardless of whether he plays in the American League or the NHL. Read more