Indy alumni news
- Former Indiana Ice coach Jeff Blashill signed a three-year extension with the Detroit Red Wings earlier this week. Blashill, who coached the Ice to the 2009 Clark Cup championship, was named the AHL's Coach of the Year with the Wings' affiliate in Grand Rapids this past season, and won the Calder Cup with the Griffins in 2013. Blashill coached the Ice from 2008-10, then spent one year as the head coach at Western Michigan, a year as the Red Wings' assistant and the last three as AHL head coach in Grand Rapids. Prior to signing the extension, Blashill's name had been connected with several NHL head coaching vacancies. He has been seen as the heir apparent in Detroit to Mike Babcock, who has one year remaining on his contract.
- The Evansville IceMen announced Dwight Mullins as their new coach Thursday. Mullins comes to Evansville from Elmira, where he coached the Jackals for two seasons, thus creating a vacancy with the new Buffalo Sabres affiliate in New York. The IceMen are one of the Indy Fuel's frequent opponents -- the two Indiana-based teams will play each other 10 times this upcoming season. The IceMen join the Fuel (Scott Hillman) & Toledo (Derek Lalonde) in naming new head coaches since the end of the 2013-14 season.
- The Reading Royals changed NHL affiliations, hooking up with the nearby Philadelphia Flyers. Much like the Blackhawks hooking up with the Indy Fuel, this is a big get for Reading, which is in the Flyers' territory. The agreement is for two years. Reading had been an affiliate of the Washington Capitals, who are currently without ECHL affiliation. Philadelphia and the New York Rangers had been sharing an affiliation with the Greenville Road Warriors. Reading becomes the third ECHL team to have a new affiliation for next season, joining Elmira (Buffalo) and Indy (Chicago). Current ECHL/NHL affiliations. The Royals will be a familiar foe -- they play the Fuel eight times this upcoming season.
- As noted, the ECHL released its schedule earlier this week. The Indy Fuel will open at home against the Fort Wayne Komets on Oct. 17.
- The Kelly Cup Final continues this weekend in Cincinnati, with games Friday, Saturday and Monday (the latter if necessary) at U.S. Bank Arena. The Alaska Aces lead the best-of-7 series 2-1. Before Game 4, the Anchorage Daily News has an interesting piece on the meetings between coaches and officials that take place during a playoff series, and also a notebook from the Aces' perspective.
Elsewhere in hockey
- A great story about a great person -- Each day, NBC announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick writes a hand-written note to someone who has made an impact on his life. Eric is a native of LaFontaine, Indiana and a graduate of Manchester College, and a member of the Indiana Sportswriters & Sportscasters Hall of Fame. He will resume NBC's broadcasts of the Stanley Cup Final Saturday night.
- The Los Angeles Kings got an overtime goal from Justin Williams to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final over the New York Rangers. Former Indianapolis Racer (and member of both the Kings and Rangers) Wayne Gretzky got the Cup Final started by dropping the first puck. Game 2 is Saturday in Los Angeles (8 p.m., NBC).
- While not official, the World Cup of hockey looks to be making a return in 2016. The best-on-best tournament was formulated as the Canada Cup in 1976, rebranded the World Cup in 1996, and has been played sporadically -- being played only once (prior to the 2004 NHL lockout) since NHL players began playing in the Olympics in 1998. The 2016 tournament is expected to be held in Toronto. However, this also begs the question -- will NHL players continue to play in the Olympics? Yahoo's Ryan Lambert believes that will eventually be phased out.