Views from the Press Box with Dan Weiss

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Following a brief hiatus to accompany the dog days of summer, the “Views” return this week to break down the recently released 2012-13 Rampage schedule. First of all, kudos to the schedule makers at the American Hockey League, who probably deal with more headaches than people can imagine when building the annual campaigns for 30 individual teams. Having said that, Rampage fans should be pretty pleased with what’s come down the pipe. San Antonio will play 32 of their 38 home games this season on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. That’s up three games from last year, and three games from the 2010-11 season when there used to be 40 home games. Also, a new wrinkle is that all Friday home games will begin at 7:30 p.m., allowing fans an additional 30 minutes to get down to the AT&T Center. Saturday and midweek games will remain 7:00 p.m. face-off times, and Sundays will split between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. starts. Logistics aside, the schedule will heavily favor divisional opponents as 44 of the 76 games (57.8%) will be against Houston, Texas, Oklahoma City, and new divisional rival, Charlotte. San Antonio will play each team in the Western Conference at least twice, and will play four games apiece against Rockford, Chicago, Peoria, Lake Erie, Abbotsford, and Grand Rapids. The longest home-stand of the season is a five game run from Nov. 16-25, while the longest road trip of the year no surprise is the annual Rodeo Road Trip, which will feature nine games over 21 days (split between a couple of return trips home) in six different cities. The Rampage will begin the year at the AT&T Center for the seventh consecutive season where they have won three straight and five out of six, and will be at home throughout the entire Thanksgiving Weekend and on St. Patrick’s Day. In terms of toughness, the Rampage have two very advantageous portions of the schedule that they can hopefully bag a lot of points. San Antonio will play 12 out of their first 17 games at home from October 13 through November 25, and will conclude the season with 14 out of their last 20 games inside the friendly confines from March 10 through April 20. Meanwhile, the toughest portion of the schedule is without question a 19-day stretch from December 4-22 where the Rampage will play 11 games in seven different cities, which includes their grueling jaunt westward to Abbotsford, British Columbia, and an 11:05 morning game at Toyota Center in Houston. December ironically is also the busiest month of the season for the Silver and Black as they will play a total of 15 times. Of course, every schedule comes with its share of oddities and this one is no different. 13 of the final 21 games of the season will be against Texas, Houston, or Oklahoma City, while seven out of the last nine games of the year will be strictly against the Lone Star Face-Off rivals. The Rampage have a five-game run in the penultimate week of the season where they play home against Texas, at Houston twice, and then back home against Texas for two more affairs. Now that could be a wild week! All in all, it’s a good schedule for the Rampage and a great schedule for the fans that can look forward to spending their weekends at the AT&T Center.

Earlier this week I tweeted about the expiration this summer of the transfer agreement between the Canadian Hockey League, which oversees the Major Junior circuit, and the National Hockey League. The biggest component of this transfer agreement is that any player drafted out of the CHL cannot play in the American Hockey League unless they turn 20-years-old by December 31 of the current playing season. That rule was agreed upon to prevent junior teams from losing their big stars (unless of course it was directly to the NHL) and to help sustain their business operations. The expiration of the current deal coupled with any possible disruption of the NHL schedule due to the ongoing labor negotiations could present an interesting scenario and one that would directly benefit the AHL. Theoretically, the Florida Panthers would have the option of assigning a signed player like last year’s first round pick Jonathan Huberdeau (who just turned 19 this summer) to San Antonio rather than back to his junior club if the Panthers brass believed it was in his best interest in terms of development. But, well respected hockey commentator Jeff Marek from the CBC and Hockey Night in Canada poured a bit of cold water on the thought of such a situation occurring by relaying information that the transfer agreement is tied into the new CBA, and the CHL expects the AHL to honor the terms of the previous agreement and not allow 19-year-olds into the league in the event of a lockout. Still, it will be interesting to see how this all develops as we get closer to training camp and the start of the season.

Views From The Press Box Archieve
Week 1: June 15, 2012
Week 2: June 22, 2012
Week 3: June 29, 2012
Week 4: July 6, 2012
Week 5: July 13, 2012
Week 6: July 20, 2012
Week 7: July 27, 2012

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