5 Questions (Bartl’s Blog)

Just five random questions, including Marty Raymond re-signing, not-so-fond memories of 1998, a nice thought I had about our city, and a couple questions about heated ECHL rivals. And yes, I mention twitter.

5. Why do I take everything Jeremy Roenick says with a grain of salt? This story has been beaten to the ground already in the blogosphere, I even tweeted on it a minute after I heard it (@KevinBartl if you’re into the whole tweeting-thing). I need to say something about it here though, because if Jeremy Roenick thinks Patrick Marleau has been gutless in the playoffs this season, he should have been there at the Nagano Olympics in 1998 to see the performance of that Team U.S.A. squad…. Oh wait…. Nevermind. He was.

I know I’m bringing up old stuff, but as an American and an American hockey fan, the level of my disappointment for the 1998 Team USA squad will never diminish.

They arrived basking in expected glory and left right after trashing their rooms and tossing a fire extinguisher out of a 5th story window. They didn’t practice, they went out boozing, and they managed only to beat Belarus in four games, getting outscored 12-4 in losses to Sweden, Canada and the Czechs. Just how bad that team was is hard for me to put into words. But I do have the vocabulary to describe J.R.’s stats for the tourney (4gp, 0g-1a-1pt), which will not be shared in this family-friendly forum.

I never took anybody on that team as seriously after that. That includes now, when J.R. gets on TV and berates players left and right.

4. What do you expect out of a downtown? I know many of you don’t ever venture downtown, other than to come to a Condors game, and then you leave immediately. But I got to thinking about it, mainly because I’m downtown pretty much every single day of my life. I was at First Friday last weekend, then went to dinner downtown on Saturday night. And on Sunday, several places were hoppin’ for the obligatory Mother’s Day brunches. In short, downtown Bakersfield is happening.

There is absolutely no shortage of places to get a great meal downtown, enjoy a libation or attend events. If you’ve never been to First Friday, check it out. If you haven’t seen the Mill Creek Park, check that out at Third Thursday on May 19 (it’s the 3rd Thursday of the month, get it?). And if you have stayed away from downtown for the last 10 years, you’re really missing out. Tip-A-Condor was downtown, a bunch of our sponsors are downtown, our players hang out downtown, visiting teams stay downtown, the All-Star festivities were downtown…. it’s not growing; it’s GROWN.

By the way, on the wall at Jerry’s Pizza there are portraits of the old architecture that used to make up our downtown area, and there was a great article on the buildings destroyed in the big earthquake of ’52 in the last Bakersfield Life magazine. I would say that classic style in its design is the only thing Bakersfield’s downtown is lacking.

3. What will happen to the Victoria Salmon Kings? Part of this is an easy answer, part is not. The players become free agents… that is the easy part. Their rights are no longer held in the ECHL, and they may sign anywhere they chose, in our league or another.

The more difficult question is for everyone else. When a team disbands there are always others whose lives are impacted. Over the years, I have enjoyed the road trips to Victoria. The city is great – it’s scenic, the weather is mild (for Canada in winter, anyway), the restaurants and bars were fantastic, and the people are nice. And that includes the folks at the Salmon Kings office.

They are in an awkward position. They were trying to work for the Salmon Kings while their team was in limbo. A new team in a new league was coming in – they might not know if they had jobs after that last Salmon Kings game. They might not know even now. It makes coming to work, and caring about anything but getting your paycheck, very difficult.

I’ve been there, with another team I worked for years ago. And it’s not an enviable position. It’s stressful. You lay awake at night thinking about it. You wonder if you should be wrapping up end-of-season stuff, or if you should be using your time searching job websites. There are some good, hard-working people up there in VIC that loved their jobs, and I feel for them. Here’s to hoping everything works out for them.

2. How much down time do the Alaska Aces need this post-season? Think about this: because of their first round bye they didn’t even play their first playoff game until April 15 (14 days after the final regular season game). They swept Idaho in four games (which took only a week) and had four days off until the next round.

Then, they dispatched the Salmon Kings ingloriously in four games (over six days), but here’s the kicker: while they were playing Game 4, Kalamazoo and Wheeling were only playing Game 2 of their series… and it’s still going on! Game 6 of their series is tonight, with K-Zoo leading 3-games-to-2.

Alaska has been off seven days since their last game, and Game 1 of the Finals isn’t scheduled to start until Friday. So that’s another three days. That means, by the time the Finals commence, the Aces will have had 28 days off between playoff series.

The question is, does the down time help, or hurt, the Alaska Aces?

1. How do you NOT bring back a head coach that has won back-to-back division titles? A lot of fans are very happy that Marty Raymond is coming back for another season. Some, I’m sure, are not, as there is never a shortage of naysayers. It is not valid to question his hockey knowledge, nor is it valid to question the team’s regular season successes – four 40+ win seasons in seven years and two division titles.

It is valid, however, to debate the Condors ability to advance in the post-season and the underlying reasons for it. But the question that any organization has to ask itself is whether changing their coach will give you a better chance at advancement in the playoffs. And while you can ponder this over in relation to re-hiring Marty Raymond, you can’t really form a rock-solid argument against him. Clearly the teams have had success on the ice during the regular season, so Marty has proven that he can take a bunch of players and guide them to victory.

Intangibles will always come into play when it comes to the playoffs. But I think your selection of a head coach is more of a risky wager than any other person in the organization. And with the resume Marty has put together in Bakersfield, the odds up on the board have to be just as in favor of Marty Raymond as they are for the rest of the field.


Kevin Bartl is the Condors Vice President of Communications and part of the broadcast team, entering his 9th season in Condorstown.