BIRD’S-EYE VIEW: Mailbag #1
Blog #06 – April 9, 2020
by John Peterson
The first few weeks of the “off-season” came and went. We still have a long way to go.
First of all, I hope you’re staying healthy and safe with everything going on. In the meantime, we’ll try to keep you entertained throughout the course of the summer.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed some of the content we’ve created so far, including these blogs and our weekly Facebook quarantine coffee talk, “Just Wingin’ It”. Aside from these reoccurring bits, we’ll continue to work on bringing you entertaining new material as we work through the “down months.”
In light of keeping things interesting, I wanted to incorporate a Mailbag feature to these off-season blogs. This is your chance to ask anything on your mind, whether it has to do with the players, memories from the season, the front office, promotions, or non-hockey related things like canceled summer vacations or how I’m coping with not being able to golf right now.
Without further ado, here’s our first version of the Bird’s-Eye View Mailbag:
Q: Will the third jerseys be auctioned off anytime soon?- Alzantonio S.
Yes. We will still be auctioning off those sweet third jerseys that seemed to be a big hit among fans, players and staff alike. They’re the white jerseys with blue and green trim, similar to the Vancouver Canucks white jerseys.
The initial plan was to auction them off live after our Fan Appreciation Day game April 5, but obviously due to the last six games of the season getting canceled, we are pushing it back until there is an appropriate time when the dust settles and we can return to the office. Stay tuned!
Q: Is there any way to auction off the Green Ice and Bell’s jerseys and split the proceeds up between the players and any other staff members since the season got canceled?- Taylor L.
Similar to the question above, we are also working on a plan for our other two remaining specialty jerseys that we never had the chance to wear. The St. Patrick’s Day themed jerseys were supposed to be worn March 13-14 for our first-ever Green Ice Weekend and we will be auctioning those on the DASH Auction App. It’s free to download the app and you can bid right from your mobile phone. We don’t know exactly when that will launch, but keep an eye out for it hopefully in May.
As for the Bell’s Brewery jerseys that were supposed to be worn March 21, we are still working on a plan with Bell’s before we decide what to do. They’ve been fantastic partners and the jersey design was made to look like the label for their Two-Hearted Ale, the top selling craft beer in the U.S.
Thank you for thinking about us during this time. We are well taken care of and fortunate to work for a first-class company that cares about the community and its employees greatly. The plan is to donate the proceeds to a non-profit and we’ll have more details when available.
Q: Did a team picture get taken or was that a casualty of the season ending so quickly?- Mark M.
Unfortunately the traditional team picture was one of the events that was canceled due to the season ending so suddenly. We had planned to take the team photo March 18, but when the ECHL officially canceled the season March 14, the timetable to conduct exit interviews with our players so that they could return home safely was very quick that following week.
Q: Did Zach Saar retire?- Ben D.
I don’t think Zach officially announced he was retiring, for what it’s worth, but he did step away from hockey to pursue other options and we support him fully in his decision. It was a pleasure working with Zach this season and unfortunate he battled the injury bug throughout the year.
He was always willing to help with community appearances and content pieces we put together, as evident by how funny he was in our first Top Ten video and the Wings Holiday Wishes video. We wish him all the best with whatever the future holds.
Q: How is everyone handling the sudden shutdown?- Kurt S.
It’s been challenging, but we’re doing the best we can, given the circumstances. Thanks again for checking. Some days it feels like we’re running in place, because nobody knows exactly how long this will last, but we’re still meeting via video chat as a front office team and planning for the 2020-21 season. We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and we’re hopeful we can all get back to normal soon.
Q: What is the best road city for an after game meal when staying overnight or arriving the night before?- Jim P.
This was one of the questions presented to Head Coach Nick Bootland for our second episode of “Just Wingin’ It”, but I figured I’d chime in and give it a whirl. After all, I’ve spent five seasons traveling around the ECHL and have been to 15 or so markets. My three favorites are probably Boise, Allen and Cincinnati.
Boise has everything in a close vicinity downtown. The hotel is attached to the arena and there are several outstanding restaurants close by. Allen has In-N-Out Burger right across from the rink, which I’m crazy about, and there are a few other bars and restaurant just a block or two away. Cincinnati has a great hotel across the river in Kentucky with a movie theatre, bowling alley and several bars and restaurants in the area. I might write a future blog exclusively about some of my favorite spots on the road.
Q: How does one become a stick boy? What are the qualifications and tasks for this?- Cary K.
Great question. I honestly have no idea, but stay tuned for our third episode of “Just Wingin’ It” next Monday at 10:00 a.m. on Facebook. Our next guest is the perfect person to ask.
Q: Do you have any lucky ties or things to keep with you on a game day?- Caleb H.
This is another fun question directed toward Coach Bootland for our video chat conversation. To the core, I’m a very superstitious person, so I’ll give my two cents here. That hideously glorious red plaid suit I wore on New Year’s Eve?
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I wore that suit in Game 6 of Tulsa’s first round playoff series last April against Kansas City. The Mavericks led the best-of-seven series three games to two and I figured, “if the season ends tonight, at least I look ridiculous”. The Oilers won, then took Game 7 the next night to advance. With a closeout opportunity in Game 6 of the second round against Idaho, I wore it again. Another win. On the brink of elimination against Toledo in the Conference Finals heading to Game 6 at the Huntington Center, I wore it on the road in enemy territory. Another win to force Game 7 back in Tulsa. (I wore a different suit for Game 7, a loss).
This season, Bootland, Joel Martin and I went to Panera for lunch before our first game in Wheeling, West Virginia in late November. We won. Each time we had a pregame lunch at that Panera, the K-Wings beat the Nailers. I think we were 3-0.
Q: Can we please get rid of the fight suspension rules?- Lander E.
I’ll see what I can do. What you’re referring to is the rule put in place by the ECHL entering the 2019-20 season limiting a player to nine fighting majors during the season. Once a player picks up their tenth fighting major, they receive a one-game suspension. Each subsequent fight also results in a one-game suspension until that player receives their 15th such penalty. The suspension then becomes two games.
On the surface, the rule is meant to curb fighting by players that bluntly put, are only on the roster to fight. I don’t think it will ever be taken out of the game altogether. Teams can no longer afford to keep players around who are one-dimensional. The sport keeps getting faster and the skill keeps improving as well. Players who provide that toughness must also be able to play the game and contribute in other areas.
K-Wings captain Ben Wilson led the entire league at the end of the shortened season with nine fights. I’d argue he’s an extremely valuable asset because of his leadership on and off the ice, his work ethic, his willingness to block shots, etc. Things that don’t show up on the box score. He’s also disciplined. Of his 75 penalty minutes, 45 came from fights. He had just 15 minor penalties the whole season in 60 games. That’s one penalty every four games.
With all that being said, I agree that the limit seems a little forced. But time will tell how it affects the game in the long run. I think fighting will always be a part of hockey.
Q: How did it feel to beat Ben Wilson in the Movember mustache competition?- Boston L.
It was the pinnacle of my professional career. The crowning achievement. I give all the glory to the fans.
Bird’s-Eye View is a Kalamazoo Wings blog, written by the team’s Director of Public Relations/Broadcaster John Peterson twice weekly. The thoughts, opinions and behind-the-scenes stories are that of the writer alone and not a reflection of the organization as a whole. Fans are welcome to submit questions and ideas for future blog posts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!