|First but hopefully not the last team photo of 2022-23
The ECHL brought the hammer down on the Allen Americans yesterday afternoon by suspending Mikael Robidoux 14 games and threw in a two-game suspension for Spencer Asuchak to add insult to injury (literally).
- If you haven’t seen the press release on the suspensions, this is what it said, “The ECHL on Thursday announced the following fines and suspensions resulting from ECHL Game #296, Allen at Wichita, on Oct. 22.Allen’s Spencer Asuchak has been suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed amount under Rule #28 – Supplementary Discipline as the result of his actions while serving as a non-uniform assistant coach at 19:29 of the second period.
Asuchak will miss Allen’s games vs. Wichita on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30.
Allen’s Mikael Robidoux has been suspended for 14 games as the result of his actions after leaving the ice surface at 19:29 of the second period.
Robidoux will miss the next 14 games on Allen’s schedule and will be eligible to return on Dec. 4.”
– Despite the many mitigating factors related to Robidoux’s encounter with the fan, including the fan’s behavior, the arena security, the officiating, etc., there was no doubt the league would not tolerate Robidoux’s reaction. It will never be known but it is possible the suspension would have been 20+ games rather than 14 had the mitigating circumstances not been considered.
– When I talked to coach Costello about the Robidoux suspension it was obvious he had his opinion on the incident, but he was clearly looking forward and working on what he had to do to get the best lineup on the ice for the weekend. His comment to me was, “Sure it is a setback, but we will have a great team on the ice Saturday, which is capable of winning.”
– The surprise for many was the two-game suspension for Spencer Asuchak. He was suspended for squirting water into the stands. As you might imagine the ECHL has had plenty of experience with this type of thing in the past and the discipline is consistently a two-game suspension.
– It is not as simple as putting two different players in the lineup to replace Asuchak and Robidoux. The ECHL rule is they must remain on the active roster and their salary still counts toward the salary cap even though they are suspended. Coach Costello will become an expert in “capology” trying to maximize the number of players that can actually play this weekend. He does have some tools in the toolbox to minimize the impact of the suspensions.
– Since the suspensions were announced yesterday afternoon, I have seen quite a few comments about nothing being done about player safety in Wichita. There was no mention of player safety in the press release. I had heard Wichita has been very cooperative regarding this incident and is making changes to improve player safety at INTRUST Bank Arena. This morning I contacted Wichita General Manager, Joel Lomurno, who gave me an update on what is being done to improve player safety:
- Effective tonight (Wichita plays Tulsa) security will be present down by the visitor bench. That alone should alleviate any problems in the future.
- The railings are being raised to help protect the players.
- Covering the walkway/tunnel is being worked on but it effects the sight lines of several rows of people, so the actual fix is still to be determined.
- As far as the fan that was involved, the incident is still under review, it is being taken very seriously and a determination will be made very soon.
– While Allen was losing two players to suspension, Wichita has been gaining players. In the last two days the Thunder have been assigned the San Jose Sharks 2020 first round (#31 overall) draft pick, Ozzy Wiesblatt and goalie Strauss Mann, whose resume includes being captain at the University of Michigan (2020-21) with a .930 save percentage, a year playing in the top league in Sweden (SHL) with a .918 save percentage and a member of the 2022 US Winter Olympic Team, with a save percentage of .945.
– By my count Wichita now has seven assigned players, but some are out with injuries. It will be a challenge for the Americans for sure. Remember, Allen plays Wichita twice this weekend but also in its next game on November 4th in Wichita. It will be the only game Allen plays next weekend.
– Talk about bringing back some great memories, I attended Allen practice yesterday and Gary Steffes, Mental Performance and Player Development Coach, joined Chad Costello and Aaron Gens on the ice. Six Kelly Cup rings between them as teammates in 2014-15 and 2015-16. They were all active participants in the drills and look like they could still play.
– The post-game meeting/press conference with season ticket holders will return this season. Coach Costello and maybe a player or two will discuss the game and answer questions. The first post-game event will be after the game on Saturday in the old season ticket holder lounge. There won’t be one after the game on Sunday which will be televised, so likely post-game interviews will be part of that broadcast.
– After the first week of the ECHL season there are still nine undefeated teams. There are also six winless teams. With most teams playing two or three games this weekend, the top teams and bottom teams will start becoming apparent.
– There are nine games on the ECHL schedule tonight with six Mountain Division teams in action, including Tulsa at Wichita. While the Americans have the night off, Wichita has to play at home and then make the 365-mile bus trip to Allen. Here is the ECHL Today with a preview tonight’s nine games. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2022/10/echl-today-oct-28
DID YOU KNOW: When is the jersey reversal date?While there are exceptions sometimes when teams wear specialty jerseys, here is the general rule in the ECHL. Teams will wear their white jerseys at home and dark jerseys on the road for all games through Jan. 16, 2023. As of Jan. 20, 2023, teams will wear their dark jerseys at home and their white jerseys on the road through the end of the regular season. During the Playoffs, home teams will continue wearing their dark jerseys and visiting teams will continue to wear their white jerseys.