View From the Booth

Hello again Monsters fans and welcome to this week's edition of "View From the Booth". I hope the summer is treating you great! We are now just seven weeks away from the start of our exciting fifth season of Monsters hockey. The season opener is set for October 7th at The Q, and the full schedule should be released very soon. Make sure you check in here on everyday for updates on that and everything else Monsters hockey.

As I like to do in my columns in the offseason, I will bounce around hockey and the AHL and give you my thoughts on some things that have happened since we last talked.

Let's start with our guys. I'm sure you've taken a look at what our big club in Denver has done in the offseason by now. With that said, I really like what the Avs have done, and what that will mean for us here in Cleveland is a very promising and optimistic season ahead. The bottom line for me, I think the 2011 Monsters are going to be a very good team. Obviously a lot depends on what happens at camp in Denver next month, but looking at the system, prospects and veterans the Avs have signed, and I'm really excited about both the team in Denver and the team here in Cleveland. There is a lot of depth and experience in the Avs system and that should translate to exciting, up-tempo teams in both Denver and Cleveland.

If you haven’t heard, David Oliver, who has been with the Monsters since day one here in Cleveland, will now run the AHL operations of the team and be the assistant coach to returning third-year head coach David Quinn. Oliver, who spent several years in the NHL and AHL, is a very passionate man about the sport, and has so much to offer young prospects and veterans. He's a guy who has done so much in our great sport and will continue to bring the passion and desire to win, and develop players now in two roles with our organization. I think the mix of experience between Quinn and Oliver will be awesome for our players and our fans.

Last week we held our Monsters hockey clinics over at Winterhurst Arena in Lakewood. What a great couple of days that was. A major league thumbs up to Ben Shank, Jock Callander and all of our staff that took part in organizing and running the clinic. It was the biggest and best so far in the four years of our franchise. The kids were awesome to watch on the ice and I believe they had a great experience. Stay tuned hockey players and parents, there will be more opportunities to work with our staff to continue to improve the skills. Details will come right here on

A big thumbs up to Monsters forward Justin Mercier as well. He was on the ice at the clinic, working the kids through drills with Jock. I've know Justin for a few years now and I saw and sensed a lot of confidence in what this coming season will bring for him, which will be his third as a pro hockey player. He signed a new contract with the Avs earlier this summer, and is extremely focused and ready for the coming season. There is a video interview I did with Justin last week at the hockey clinic on our website, so take a look if you haven't already to hear first hand from Justin what he's done in the offseason to improve his game as a pro player.

There have been a few additions and changes in the AHL coaching ranks this offseason. The Chicago Wolves, now the Vancouver Canucks top farm team, have a new coach in Craig MacTavish. He's known really well for two things, the last NHL player to not wear a helmet, and when he was the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, he ripped the tongue of Harvey the Hounds mouth when the Oilers were playing in Calgary. Harvey the Hound is the Flames mascot by the way. I ran into MacTavish in St. Louis this past March when I was calling the NCAA Midwest Hockey Regionals for ESPN, and prior to that I had seen him in other AHL and college arenas when he was scouting for the Oilers. He is a great guy, and he was scouting some college talent in St. Louis that March weekend. We were both grabbing a bite to eat at the breakfast buffet at the Marriott, just chatting from a distance and then he came over and sat down with me to eat, and we just started talking hockey. I look forward to seeing him again when we face the Wolves this season.

In closing, remember to check into the website daily for the latest and greatest news involving the Monsters, and remember the schedule info – when it's ready to be released, it will be right here on the website. Speaking of the website, a big shout out to all you fans, for the last nine months our website numbers have been at all-time highs. Thank you for helping take our website to new heights!

Coming soon to the site will be a full-length production feature by Olivier Sedra and the gang at QTV, the best production team in the AHL by the way! Last Friday, Monsters Director of Ticket Sales Jeff Bowler got a new Cleveland hockey tattoo, it's a long story and a very good one. I did a short version with my Flip Cam, sort of a preview video of what Olivier and the QTV folks are working on, but the one by Olivier and QTV will be incredible. Trust me, you will want to watch it!

Until next week, continue to enjoy the summer and remember how close we are to dropping the puck on the fifth anniversary season of very exciting Lake Erie Monsters hockey. GO MONSTERS!




Ben Holden

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