View From the Booth...Excitement Builds

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another edition of "The View from the Booth." We are now less than two months away from the start of the Monsters fourth season here in Cleveland. I can tell you this: There is a great deal of excitement and anticipation around our hockey club. Personally, I'm very, very excited for the season to get underway, and I am anticipating a young and very energetic team on the ice when the puck drops on our season opener on Friday, October 8th at The Q against the Syracuse Crunch.

We will play in Syracuse the very next night as part of the AHL's 75th year anniversary. That's going to be exciting to be a part of, especially the throwback uniforms the Monsters and the other five teams taking part in the opening weekend will wear. We will also have some very special and historic things in store for our great fans. Whether it's on the broadcast side of that opening weekend, or what will be done in-arena that night by Matt Bettinger and his terrific in-arena game day staff, it's going to be special and I strongly encourage you to join us here at The Q or on the broadcast side for the opening weekend games.

In the coming weeks our schedule will be released and then we can all start planning out our weekends and weeknights around our team. It's quite a process for our front office staff to make everything work out in terms of the scheduling. It's also quite a process for the AHL and the other AHL teams that, like the Monsters, share a building with an NBA team. In the end, everyone involved in our front office does the absolute best it can to make the schedule as fan friendly as possible. I tip my hat to them all.

We should also be adding a new team to our schedule this season, the Oklahoma City Barons, who are now the top minor league affiliate for the Edmonton Oilers. Like our parent club, the Avalanche, the Oilers play in the NHL's Northwest Division. I think it's great to have Oklahoma City in the league this season. I hope we play there a couple of times and that they will come here a couple of times. I like to see the teams in the parent club's division be a part of our schedule; it's a chance for all of us to see the stars of the future go head-to-head here in the AHL and a few years down the road see them battle in the NHL.

Speaking of the Barons, they named their first general manager last week, Bill Scott. For the last four years, Scott has worked in the AHL office in Springfield, Mass. He was involved in the hockey operations area of the AHL. I ran into Scott last February in Syracuse, this after not seeing him for several years. Scott was at Michigan State University working on the Spartans hockey staff previously, and that's where we first met.

I worked in Lansing for six years as a sports anchor/reporter and I spent as much time as I could covering the Spartans hockey program. Avs defenseman John-Michael Liles was one of the guys I always tried to talk to and interview. But back to Bill Scott now. Hockey is such a small world and such a tangled web. What I mean by that is, it seems like everyone knows everyone. I was happy to see Scott, who is a fairly young guy,earn his chance to run an AHL team.

There is an ongoing feature the next few weeks over at NHL.com. They are doing profiles, features and predictions on all 30 NHL teams. They are doing it in alphabetical order and on Monday the Colorado Avalanche was the featured team. I think the Avs will have another strong season and compete for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second straight season. It's very clear the direction the Avs want to continue to go and that's by continuing to build a strong organization and team from top to bottom with young, high-end talent. It worked last season and I don't see that changing this season. Craig Anderson was unreal between the pipes and helped give the Avs that always important calming presence in the nets each and every night he played.

He's close to 50-years-old, and for the moment, it appears his playing career is finally over. I'm talking about sure fire Hall-of-Fame defenseman Chris Chelios, who spent the majority of last season playing in the AHL's West Division with the Chicago Wolves. Last week, Chelios joined the Detroit Red Wings staff. It looks like Chelios will be working with the young talent in the Red Wings farm system, most notably the players the Monsters will see eight times this season, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

So here's what is coming up in the near future. Later this week we will debut part two of Monsters forward Patrick Bordeleau in our ongoing "Summer Interview Series." Among the topics I recently discussed with Bordeleau were his offseason training routine and his thoughts looking ahead to training camp in Denver with the Avalanche. If you've missed any of our previous installments of our "Summer Interview Series," they are all in the video section of our website that we are looking to continue growing and making even better for our great fans this coming season.

Until the next edition of "The View from the Booth," I hope you continue to have a great summer and hope you're getting fired up for the start of the season. I know all of us here on the Monsters staff are, and we can't wait to get things rolling.

Sincerely,

Ben Holden

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