Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Saint Johners seem to like idea of Harbour Station naming rights sponsor

In a very unscientific poll/survey, the people of Saint John are very much in favour of slapping a corporate name on Harbour Station.

While it's often unpopular for a well-known entertainment venue name to be replaced/adjusted by a corporate name, the fine folks of the Port City - at least those who commented on this 97.3 The Wave Facebook post - are very much in favour of the initiative.

These people are, of course, correct, and the added revenue from a sponsorship agreement would be a huge boost for the building. Just look at the Halifax Metro Centre, which has undergone several much needed renovations since Scotiabank purchased its naming rights.

According to the Telegraph-Journal on Monday (paywall), Harbour Station runs an annual operating deficit of $700,000.

Harbour Station has been publicly seeking a naming rights sponsor since 2015.

One thing that is perhaps complicating Harbour Station's future is Moncton's new facility, which is set to open next year. Moncton will no doubt attract a lot more shows - perhaps more than Saint John - with its new building, which could certainly have a negative impact on Harbour Station. Along with that, you have to think Moncton is also interested in finding a naming rights purchaser.

A few weeks ago, The Telegram had an interesting article on the rental costs of Atlantic arenas.

Richer takes over Aces

Former Saint John Sea Dogs forward Philip Richer has been named head coach and general manager of the St. Stephen Aces.

Richer, who was named associate coach and assistant general manager of the Aces earlier this summer, replaces Josh Hepditch who has joined the Moncton Wildcats has an assistant coach.

“For a young coach, Phil brings a ton of experience and lots of enthusiasm to our organization,” said Aces president John Hyslop in a release.

“Josh did a great job continuing to build our foundation and now Phil and his staff will help push us to the next level. He’s going to be a great fit,” added Hyslop.

Richer had previously been an assistant coach with the MHL's Miramichi Timberwolves and head coach of the NB/PEIMMHL's Miramichi Rivermen.

Richer was a fourth-round pick of the Sea Dogs in the 2007 QMJHL Entry Draft and played in 45 games with the club over two seasons. The 26-year-old also played a season with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar during his QMJHL career.

Replacing Richer as assistant coach and assistant general manager is Justin Bowers.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Galiev signs two-year deal in KHL

2011 Memorial Cup champion Stanislav Galiev has returned home to Russia.

The former Saint John Sea Dogs forward signed a two-year deal with the KHL's Ak Bars Kazan on Friday. The signing ends a weird situation for Galiev after he was stuck in contract limbo by Dynamo Moscow.

The 25-year-old has played in North America since 2008-09. He spent a lot of his professional career bouncing between the East Coast Hockey League and American Hockey League - which included some stints in the NHL with the Washington Capitals.
From Russian Machine Never Breaks:

During the 2014-15 season, Stan Galiev blossomed into one of the most talented scorers in the American Hockey League, scoring 25 goals in 67 games with the Hershey Bears. After years of struggles and injuries in the minors, Galiev finally earned a dream promotion to the NHL. But Galiev’s momentum would be halted, tallying only one goal and being a frequent scratch during parts of two seasons in Washington.

It's too bad Galiev was never able to stick in the NHL, but it seemed as though his biggest flaw in Saint John - consistency - troubled him in professional hockey as well. There were games during his Sea Dogs career when he looked like the best player in junior hockey. Then there were games where he was barely noticeable.

Despite consistency issues, Galiev put up some good numbers in Saint John. The first overall pick in the 2009 CHL Import Draft, the forward played all three seasons of the Sea Dogs' glory days from 2009 - 2012. He recorded 65 goals and 79 assists in 151 regular season games and added 34 goals and 46 assists in 57 playoff games. He averaged nearly a goal-per-game (16 goals in 17 games) during the 2012 playoffs.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sea Dogs creating a Hall of Fame in 2018

The Saint John Sea Dogs will be honouring some of their past this season.

In a press release issued today, the team announced it will be creating a "Sea Dogs Hall of Fame" in 2018. The first inductee will be announced next month at a charity golf event.

From the release:

Following the Challenge, a dinner will be held at Britt's Rockwood Park where the Sea Dogs Foundation will announce the first inductee in the new "Sea Dogs Hall of Fame" in 2018. A formal induction ceremony and the opening of the Sea Dogs Hall of Fame are scheduled for next year.

No further details on the Hall of Fame have been announced.

The Sea Dogs, despite having played just 12 seasons, have such an impressive history that it makes sense for the team to create something to show it off. The team has a trophy case and columns of fame on the concourse, but that's about it.

You also have to wonder when the Sea Dogs will start retiring jersey numbers to accompany all of the championship banners hanging inside Harbour Station. It's worth noting that no player has worn Alex Grant's No. 20, Mike Thomas' No. 17 or Jonathan Huberdeau's No. 11 since their departures (Grant is the only player in team history to wear No. 20).

Today's Hall of Fame news was part of an announcement about the team hosting its first annual "Sea Dogs Par 3 Celebrity Challenge," which will be held Aug. 18 at Rockwood Park Golf Course. A number of Sea Dogs alumni will be taking part in the event, including NHLers Huberdeau and Nathan Beaulieu.

More information on how to take part in the event, prizes and alumni can be found here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Notebook: Some notable AHL games

The American Hockey League released its full 2017-18 schedule on Tuesday.

Some potentially key dates for Saint John Sea Dogs alumni are:

  • The Belleville Senators (Thomas Chabot, Chris DiDomenico and Paul Boutilier) begin their inaugural season on Oct. 6 in Laval against the Rocket (Simon Bourque). The Sens won't have their home opener until Nov. 1 due to building renovations.
  • The Syracuse Crunch (Mathieu Joseph) open their season on Oct. 6 in Rochester.
  • The Charlotte Checkers (Spencer Smallman, Julien Gauthier and Callum Booth) open the year in Hartford on Oct. 6. The Checkers will play in the Eastern Conference this season, so there will (hopefully) be lots of opportunities to see Sea Dogs alumni going head-to-head.
  • The Rockford IceHogs (Matthew Highmore and Nathan Noel) begin play on Oct. 7 in Cleveland.
  • The Ontario Reign (Bokondji Imama) visit San Antonio on Oct. 7 to begin their season.
  • The Providence Bruins (Jakub Zboril) host Springfield in their season opener on Oct. 7.

The Sea Dogs had very few alumni playing full time in the AHL this past season, with Alex Grant (Providence), Stanislav Galiev (Hershey) and Brett Gallant (Cleveland) the only real mainstays. Stephen MacAulay (Springfield) and Eric Gelinas (San Antonio) also appeared in quite a few games during the 2016-17 season.

Predicting the IceHogs

Speaking of the AHL, the Chicago Blackhawks blog Second City Hockey recently predicted the roster of the team's top farm team, the Rockford IceHogs.

The blogs projects Matthew Highmore to centre the team's second line while Nathan Noel will centre the third. The team's forward unit is highlighted by Alex DeBrincat, who probably has a chance to crack the Blackhawks' lineup this year.

More campers

Speaking of the Blackhawks, the team released details on its prospect camp, which will take place July 17-21.

As expected, the roster includes Sea Dogs forwards Matthew Highmore and Nathan Noel. Highmore signed with the club this past season while Noel was picked by the 'Hawks in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The camp roster also includes Montreal native Jake Massie, a 2014 fifth-round pick of the Sea Dogs who never reported to the team. Massie, who was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2015 NHL Draft and later traded to Chicago, spent this past season at the University of Vermont.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Premier Gallant suffered concussion at Sea Dogs practice

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant suffered a concussion at a Saint John Sea Dogs practice in May. The Telegraph-Journal first reported the news this morning (paywall).

Gallant has been scaling back public appearances while recovering from the concussion.

The practice took place at the qplex ahead of Saint John's President Cup final series against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Gallant tweeted a photo of him with the team on May 11.
Here is the full statement from the Premier's office:

While playing hockey with the Saint John Seadogs I fell and suffered a concussion. My only symptom following the incident was a headache. For the first few weeks after I fell, I avoided looking at screens and trimmed down my schedule to a few events each week to be able to take time to recover. Although the headache initially abated, after I attended public events my headache would reoccur. We then scaled back my public events significantly to avoid any reoccurrence, reduced the number of meetings I had been scheduled to attend, and limited the time I had to spend focussed on screens. 
For the past several days, I have been symptom free. With the concurrence of my doctor, I am gradually adding more things to my schedule. I appreciate the messages of support and good wishes I received from those who were aware of my injury. I have learned valuable insight from this incident – take care of your health and don’t try to keep up with highly skilled 20 year old hockey players.

Gallant has been a frequent visitor at Sea Dogs games and events since taking office in 2014.