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BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: Mailbag #2

Tuesday, April 21st
BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: Mailbag #2

BIRD’S-EYE VIEW:  Mailbag #2

Blog #09 – April 21, 2020

by John Peterson

The first K-Wings Mailbag went so well that we figured we’d make this a regular feature.

I’ve been collecting questions for a while that I’ve saved for this mailbag. Some of the submissions reflect topics I’ve seen pop up throughout the season on social media. Others have come in via email. Hopefully there’s a good variety of topics to keep you entertained.

As always, you can send your questions to my Facebook or Twitter page, or send me an email at jpeterson@kwings.com.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to participate. I know sometimes it can be intimidating to press send, but because of your participation, we can continue to roll out content that matters to our fans during this lengthy quarantine and beyond into the rest of the summer.

Q: The 10-fight suspension rule: if a player has nine fights entering a game and gets his tenth, is he ejected from the game after serving his five minute penalty, or can he return? If he returns and fights again, is it a two-game suspension?- Jim P.

We’ll pick up in Mailbag #2 where we left off in the last edition from April 9. Last season was the first featuring the new fight restriction rule, issuing one-game suspensions to any player who reaches 10 fighting majors in a season and another one-game suspension for each subsequent fighting major after that. Last year there was only one player in the entire league who got close to that number: K-Wings captain Ben Wilson had nine.

To answer your question, let’s say hypothetically if Ben were to fight in the first period of Kalamazoo’s Green Ice game March 13 (which never happened due to the canceled season), he’d serve his five minutes and then he’d be able to return for the rest of the game. His suspension would be issued for the next game. However, if he fights a second time later in that same game (giving him 11), it is my understanding his suspension would be for two games to reflect that extenuating circumstance. Great question! I like hypotheticals.

Q: What’s the best hockey nickname you’ve encountered?- Justin T.

This one was presented to Joe Roberts for Episode 4 of Just Wingin’ It and he mentioned Utica Comets rookie forward Seamus “Post” Malone was one of his favorites. I wish I had known that ahead of time when Malone came to Kalamazoo to play two games late in the season. One nickname I liked from this year’s team was Steady Eddie (Ian Edmondson), because it fit perfectly to his game.

A couple of my favorites: Our 2016-17 captain in Tulsa, Nolan Julseth-White, went by “Juice” and a forward on our 2017-18 team, Evan Richardson, was affectionately called “Cowboy Rick” by his teammates. Not my story to tell, but Evan was a good sport about it.

Q: What’s the name of your favorite BBQ joint in Kansas City?- Sue H.

This question stems from my most recent blog about our mega road trip in late January, which included a stop in Kansas City. It is no secret that Kansas City is famous for its barbeque. They have legendary spots like Joe’s, Arthur Bryant’s and Gates that I recommend everyone try if they ever get an opportunity. My personal favorite is Q39. I try to go back for their burnt ends every time I’m in town. Several others receive rave reviews that I still need to try, so if you have any recommendations send them my way! I love KC BBQ.

Q: What would be your favorite away building in the ECHL to call a game and why?- Gene P.

I have it pretty good here in Kalamazoo. There isn’t a better vantage point in the league than center ice at Wings Event Center, but I’ve also been consistent in praising Toledo’s Huntington Center. Their press box is my favorite. Located at the top of the lower bowl, it features enclosed booths for both broadcast teams and you feel like you’re amongst the fans. I also loved the Ford Center’s press box when I was in Evansville too. That one was an NHL-caliber setup. Another great spot to call a game as a visiting broadcaster is Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.

Q: Many people want to know if there is any chance (Kyle Bushee) will ever come back and what the reasons were for not bringing him back last season? This has been asked over and over with no real answers.- Shannon S.

This one is a sensitive subject here in Kalamazoo and I understand why, even though I arrived after his last season playing for the team. From everything I’ve heard, Kyle Bushee was a solid defenseman and a great person in the community. Nobody doubts those facts.

It may not be what you want to hear, but the truth is he was the odd man out based on the rules in place. Teams are only allowed to carry four veteran players on the roster at one time. Veteran players are those who have played 260 games at the ECHL level or higher when the season begins. When the decision was made not to bring him back in 2019-20, the K-Wings had committed to Ben Wilson (the unquestioned captain of the team, leading on and off the ice), Justin Taylor (the top-line center and consistent point producer), and Eric Kattelus (who could arguably be your best defenseman or best forward any given night).  

We also fully believed Dyson Stevenson would be in Kalamazoo most of the year (he signed with Utica and played his way onto their roster, staying all season). The week before training camp, Yannick Veilleux agreed to sign with the K-Wings. His 300+ AHL games and all-around contributions made him the premiere free agent pickup leading into the season. That made five. Bushee would have been six. You only get to keep four.

Hindsight is always 20/20, so I caution you to try to see things from a big picture perspective as if it were the end of September 2019. I wouldn’t open up about it if I thought it could get me in trouble with our coaches, but they’ve been transparent about the decision this whole time. Coach Bootland addressed this very question at our preseason season ticket holder banquet last October.

Unfortunately Bushee’s case won’t be the last time we cross this bridge, as the veteran rule comes into play seemingly every year.  It forces coaches around the league into very difficult decisions ever season. But thank you nonetheless for asking the question and for your passion. We all get attached to our favorite players.

Q: You should do an interview with (K-Wings trainer) Scott Allison. It would be interesting to see the injury side. He sees things we don’t.- Kyle P.

Thanks for the suggestion! Part of my plan this summer is to get “Rooster” to come on as a guest of Just Wingin’ It. He’s one of the best in the business and has been doing what he does for a long time here in Kalamazoo. Some of the business has changed throughout the years, so I’m curious to hear his unique perspective on what has changed from five years ago or further back to the way it is now.

Some of what goes on from an injury standpoint is confidential, for obvious reasons, but he’ll be able to share an inside look at what he does on a day-to-day basis. Rooster is also my roommate on the road, so he deserves some kind of medal for that.

Q: Does the team plan to show any more games (classics from the vault)?- Jo Anne B.

We didn’t know these would be so well-received when we thought up the idea to replay two of our biggest games from last season “live” on Facebook, but our fans proved they were craving and missing hockey. For those who didn’t catch the action, you can re-watch Kalamazoo’s Dec. 20 comeback win against Cincinnati, as well as the K-Wings’ Feb. 14 thriller against Toledo on Pink Ice on Facebook at your viewing pleasure.

Currently, we’re looking at some options to replay another classic game on social media, but we want to go back a few years into the archives. It’s proving more difficult than we expected, but we’re hopeful we can find a good one from a past season.

Q: Is this season a wash or does a team get the Kelly Cup?- Ronda N.

In the case of the ECHL, having officially canceled, this season is a wash. No team will win the Kelly Cup in 2020, meaning Newfoundland will remain the “defending” champions after winning the title in 2019. This is, no doubt, disappointing for many teams, especially those who appeared primed to make deep runs. The 2019 runners-up, Toledo, and first-place Cincinnati probably felt they had a great chance to win it all, as did resurgent Allen in the Mountain Division, dominant South Carolina and Florida in the South, and the Growlers who had a legitimate chance to repeat.

So far, the NHL and AHL are still “suspended” with some discussion in those leagues about attempting to play their playoffs late in the summer to crown a winner. Stopping short of delaying the 2020-21 season for reasons other than this virus keeping things on hold longer than expected, I can’t see those leagues forcing a late playoff to resolve their seasons. I have to think they’ll follow the ECHL’s lead at some point and cancel to start on time in 2020-21. My two cents.

Q: Where do all the great content ideas come from?- Phil L.

Joe Roberts said it best: “Behind every guy in front of the camera is someone behind the camera pitching ideas and telling you how to make them perfect.” For us in Kalamazoo, it is really a team effort. Like Joe, I can attest to the creative genius of Tim Hindbaugh. That guy is the brains behind the camera and puts up with my shenanigans in front of it. Our creative team meets weekly, consisting of Tim, Michael McFadden, Toni Lentini-Daniels and usually someone from our wonderful Greenleaf Hospitality Group marketing team, led by Sarah Olszowy.

The Wings Holiday Wishes video was all Tim. McFadden is the jersey guru and orchestrates our intermission games. I had the idea for this blog. I wanted to get back to my roots. Toni and Sarah are great at coming up with big picture content ideas, as well as direction for other fun projects, like the “Just an Intermission” Wings Event Center video. Our sales guys also deserve creative credit. They’ve sent us some cool ideas during this quarantine that they’ve seen from other teams.

Just Wingin’ It was a collaborative effort that we thought would be fun to help our fans get through this down time. So far, I’d say we were right. Stay tuned for more!

--

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 jpeterson@kwings.com. Enjoy!

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