View From the Booth...Keeping It Qlean

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another edition of "The View From the Booth." Summer continues to fly by as we inch closer to the start of the 2010-11 Monsters season. We are now closing in on 60 days until the start of the season with our home and season opener on Friday, October 8th at The Q. We should know our full schedule sometime in the middle of August and I can't wait for that to see how the home portion breaks down for the coming season.

I’m not sure if you saw or heard about a recent ESPN Outside The Lines report, but the report looked at more than 100 major league arenas that are used for MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL teams in the U.S. and Canada. The focus of the investigation was on food vendors and cleanliness in the arenas. The Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., home of the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards, was rated the worst of the more than 100 arenas. Yikes!!! As for The Q, it faired very well, but that’s no surprise!

And that got me thinking about something I've noticed about our building since last September when I started with the Monsters. The Q is the cleanest and nicest arena I've ever been in, and I sincerely mean that. I've been in hundreds of pro and college arenas around the country and in Canada over the years and no other building comes close.

Each and every day a virtual army of men and women work to keep our building extremely clean. To me, that's a matter of pride that starts at the top of our organization. Windows are always clean, the floors are always spotless, and the bathrooms are always shining. It amazes me how hard the people that clean The Q work every single day.

There's one man who I've gotten to know over the course of the last year who is always working hard to keep The Q in tip-top shape. His name is Steve Young, and every time I come into The Q on the bridge from the parking garage, there's Steve, cleaning windows or keeping the floor clean. Steve is one of hundreds of people on the crew that take great pride in doing their job well and making our building the best in the biz.

My Grandpa Holden, who passed away a few years ago, would be proud. He was such a clean and neat person and always took great pride in his house, his yard and his cars. My dad is the same way and that type of pride has been passed down to me over the years. That's why I appreciate how nice of a building The Q is, and I am fortunate to call it my office.

Moving on now to some hockey-related items.

NHL free agency continues and each and every day players continue to re-sign or change uniforms and cities in both the NHL and the AHL. Last weekend, a former Monster and member of the Avalanche organization moved on. Forward Chris Durno, who played in over 40 games with the Avalanche last season, and who also spent quite a bit of time with the Monsters in the first half of the season, signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Durno is a great example of what hard work, determination and perseverance can do for you. Here's a guy, undrafted out of Michigan Tech University, who played for several minor league teams before sticking with the Avalanche last season.

I'll never forget when he was called up for good last season in late December. We were on the road in Winnipeg, getting ready to face the Manitoba Moose in a two-game series. When I walked off the elevator in the lobby I was on my way to print some notes and info for my game charts and there was Durno, just beaming from ear-to-ear. I knew he was going up to the Avalanche and he knew he had to stick with the club, which he did for the rest of the season. I wish Chris the very best in the next chapter of his career. He's just one of those good guys I pull for no matter what jersey he’s wearing.

Earlier this week the NHL held its press conference for the upcoming 2011 Winter Classic which will feature the host Pittsburgh Penguins facing the Washington Capitals. The two teams will meet on New Year's Day at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And me, being the hockey head I am, watched the entire press conference on the NHL Network. I love that channel!

I think it's fitting that the two biggest names in the NHL will faceoff with their teams on the national stage in the elements. Sidney Crosby was at the press conference, along with teammates Max Talbot and Pascal Dupuis. But I thought it was strange that Alex Ovechkin was not at the press conference. Now I know that players go their separate ways during the offseason, but as one of the biggest names in hockey, I would have thought the Capitals would have had Ovechkin on hand for this.

Former Buckeye Dave Steckel was there, as was former Michigan Wolverine standout Mike Knuble. This is absolutely no disrespect to those guys, and I actually know Knuble a little bit. But I just think it was disappointing that Ovechkin wasn't there to help promote the game. I guess you can put this down as another chapter in the rivalry between Crosby and Ovechkin. I thought it was pretty unique how, after the press conference, the players tried to fire pucks off of smooth, ice-like platforms through the uprights at Heinz Field! Real nice touch to the press conference!

In closing, a couple of reminders for you Monsters fans. If you are interested in our Monsters Summer Hockey Clinic, you can reach out to our Youth Hockey Specialist, Ben Shank, at The Q. That takes place on Monday, August 9th and Tuesday, August 10th.

Also, don't forget to check our website each week for a new installment of our "Summer Interview Series" with some of our players. Matt Ford is in the video archives as is Part 1 of my interview with Travis Gawryletz. In fact, Part 2 of Gawryletz debuts this week. Following Gawryletz will be forward Patrick Bordeleau.

I hope you're able to enjoy those and learn what some of our players are doing in the offseason to get ready for the much anticipated 2010-11 Monsters season!


Ben Holden

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