Comments: The attached article came out of Ft Wayne in refernce to the difference betweent he east and the west. Essentially we are the less skilled and more beer league type of hockey with older less skilled players and few call ups. Players desire to play east and since we all make the play offs we can coast as a team through games…Really????
Reply: Rich, the entire article is speculation and opinion based on a couple players comments, not real investigative reporting. Let’s take a closer look……………
One player said guys out here are a lot older and winding down their careers. Well, the Eastern Conference teams ARE younger on the average… by a whopping 8 months. Hope our old guys have their retirement plans in order!
One player said it’s rougher out here and in his first game in this conference there were probably six or seven fights. I thought that sounded like an amusing game so I looked it up for fun… it’s all online these days. To my disappointment, in his first 10 games, there were six TOTAL fights. I don’t blame the guy, who can remember one game accurately from three years ago?
One player also says the ice sheets are smaller out here. But the largest ice surface in the league is in Alaska.
There is a slight difference in the number of “loans”. The Eastern teams average over 5 non-affiliated call-ups per team, while the Western Conference averages just under 4. But Orlando and South Carolina have combined for 24 player loans on their own to AHL clubs this season. (A “loan” is a player under contract to an ECHL team that goes up to an AHL team, such as Joel Broda from Bakersfield going up to Bridgeport in the AHL.)
Just because it’s easier to get called up doesn’t mean it’s easier to get in a game, however. One team out east, for example, has had four player loans this season, combining for ONE total AHL game.
Of all those Eastern Conference call-ups, many are repeat players, too. 13 players were called up more than once and several were called up three or more times, compared for four repeat loans out West. But again, one player from the East was called up three times and played just one game.
So in all, it’s not a very well-researched article, Rich. But I hope we cleared up some of the “facts” referenced. Our fear is that young players looking to turn pro read these inaccurate editorials and use it to base their decision on where to play.
-The Mailbag Guy