There was news made out of Condorstown on Friday as Jay Woodcroft was named the eighth head coach in franchise history, replacing Gerry Fleming.
Change can be a good thing, and for the Condors sake, I hope it is, but change can be a little weird, and as I’ll remind you, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.
Now for the blog.
– I’d like to begin by thanking Gerry and also Tony Borgford for the past three years. I mentioned it’s a little weird, and it certainly is. Not to get sappy, but you go from spending the better part of every day for three years with the same people and then, that’s it. But as Gerry mentioned in a recent article in The Californian, “it’s a great life, but it comes with challenges.”
– Nobody wants to win more than the coaching staff. The team’s record down the stretch and battling until the last weekend I thought showed the type of character Gerry has and how that translated to the team. It wasn’t just this year, but I thought in each of the first three seasons, Gerry and the coaching staff got as much out of the players as possible.
– They were both great to work with and share meals with on the road. One of the things I’ll miss the most are Gerry’s stories (guy can spin some yarn!) and Tony’s one-liners. Both put in an insane amount of work, including Tony’s travel and hockey operations duties, and did a commendable job.
– From everyone I’ve talked to and who has worked with new Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft, the Condors are getting a hungry, detail-oriented, and driven coach. He’s spent the past 13 seasons in the NHL and is still young by coach standards at 41 years old. Since being named bench boss he’s done two radio interviews in Edmonton: one with Jason Gregor (click here) and the other with Bob Stauffer below
– I talked with Jay last weekend and you could tell he was genuinely excited about the opportunity to come to Bakersfield. This is going to be a great challenge for him and I got the sense that he’s the type of person who likes to meet challenges head on. One of the benefits, at least initially that he will have, is that he’s worked with many of the players he’ll have on the roster already and understand the organizational philosophy.
– He’s expected in town late this month and we’ll have more on a meet and greet in the coming days. It’ll be a good introduction to Condorstown for him and his family. Side note: he actually played in Bakersfield previously in the WCHL with the Anchorage Aces.
– While the Condors head coaching job was never really “open” per se, there are other head coaching openings in the AHL: San Antonio (St. Louis), Colorado (Colorado), Belleville (Ottawa), Hershey (Washington), and Laval (Montreal). With the postseason not even over, at least a 1/5th of the AHL will have a new head coach next season. There are still vacancies in the NHL too which could create even more openings in the AHL.
– On that, former San Antonio Head Coach Eric Veilleux, who was not retained by Colorado, was named head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. While we won’t see San Antonio in the division next season, expect to still see the Rampage on the schedule.
— Halifax Mooseheads (@HFXMooseheads) May 3, 2018
– I’ll give you a sneak peek at the Top 10 Condors Goals of the Year
– Life moves quickly. Allegedly, I wrote this article for “AHL On The Beat” eight years ago today as an intern with the Worcester Sharks. Current San Jose Barracuda captain when John McCarthy was just a rookie, Logan Couture was a rookie, and Justin Braun was a rookie. Two of those played a big role for the Sharks last night. Again, as I say on Twitter all the time, it just reinforces how the AHL creates household NHL names.
– It’s Derby Weekend. As loyal readers of the blog know, this is topical for two things. 1) I was born on Derby Day in ’88. I’ll let you do the math on that. And 2) I love horse racing. With the Derby being the toughest race of the Triple Crown to handicap due to the large field and propensity for anything to happen, I’d take these picks with a grain of salt. But here’s your exacta box for Saturday. As a reminder, if you end up cashing with this, I do accept tips:
**No horse has won the Kentucky Derby since 1882 when they don’t race as a two-year old. Everyone’s favorite Justify is undefeated, BUT didn’t race as a two-year old. Life’s too short to bet the favorite**
18 Vino Rosso (12/1) – I like the Wood Memorial as a prep race, even though the winner hasn’t won since 2000; Jockey John Velasquez had options for Todd Pletcher horses. He picked this one. That says something.
11 Bolt D’Oro (8/1) – Third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year on a bad trip.
6 Good Magic (12/1) or 10 My Boy Jack (30/1) – Haven’t decided yet honestly. Good Magic won the 2017 Juvenile. On the other hand, I love value, I turn 30, Bartl’s kid is named Jack, so maybe we throw the book out the window and go that route. (noted horse whisperer J-F Houle loves My Boy Jack.)
I took this pix of #VinoRosso winning the #WoodMemorial after a good stretch dual at #TheBigA @SkimTheRail @TheNYRA @horseraceguy101 @HR_Nation @RichardMigliore @andyserling @DRFGrening @naileita29 pic.twitter.com/FIl3YqLWc9
— saberonyx (@saberonyx) April 23, 2018
Until next time Condorstown…
Ryan Holt aka Holty enters his 8th season in Condorstown in 2018-19. His first Charity Golf Tournament of the offseason is Friday at the API Golf Classic. He’s available for all golf tournaments this summer if you want him in your group. Follow him on Twitter @CondorsHolty for more nonsense or shoot him an e-mail to RHolt@bakersfieldcondors.com with questions, comments, or blog ideas.