Phantoms Home Opening Weekend
It’s been just shy of 600 days since the Phantoms last hosted a sell out crowd in the PPL Center, but the 2021-22 season welcomed fans back into the arena as part of the Return to Live movement started in the Lehigh Valley.
Sandstrom was the hero of Saturday night’s game. He stopped 38 of 40 shots in a 3-1 loss. Max Willman scored the lone Phantoms goal on a shorthanded breakaway that was started by Morgan Frost. They were 0/3 on the powerplay in possibly the three worst consecutive attempts I’ve ever seen. The Phantoms weren’t struggling to get into the offensive zone, they were struggling to get out of their defensive zone, and the few times they did, it was immediately cleared.
Sunday was much of the same. Samuel Ersson, who was playing his second AHL game, looked like a seasoned vet out there stopping 28 of 30 pucks making some dazzling saves along the way. The Phantoms were behind 1-0 for over 59 minutes before, once again, Max Willman scored to tie the game. They went on to lose in OT.
The Phantoms are missing something. They’re not playing bad per se, but it’s a very bland, paint-by-numbers team. I believe Peter Laviolette would call it “the jam.” Which is interesting because I theorized that a big reason they brought in Jason Smith to assist Ian Laperriere was to bring some of those intangibles. Hopefully it’s just some early-season miscommunication, because quite frankly there is too much talent on that team to be bad forever, but it was not the team I was expecting to watch.
The Chicago Blackhawks, who have been under an investigation for covering up a sexual assault by then-video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2010 playoffs, finally got some public answers. CEO of the Blackhawks Danny Wirtz held a briefing on Tuesday and cleaned house on the front office. Stan Bowman has “stepped aside” from his role as general manager, Al MacIsaac the senior VP of hockey ops was removed from the team, as was every member of the management staff that was part of the club in 2010. Kyle Davidson, the longtime assistant GM becomes their interim general manager.
Stan Bowman stepped down as GM of Team USA’s Men’s Olympic Team a few hours later.
The organization was also fined $2 million by the NHL for “inadequate procedures and mishandling of the 2010 matter related to the conduct of former video coach Brad Aldrich.” A minor slap on the wrist at best.
Other people that were named as knowing of the situation and were present with the Blackhawks but have since found prominent roles with other teams include Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville. No word on their futures with their respective clubs has come forward.
Update- Quenneville has resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers.
Gary Bettman said of Cheveldayoff and Quenneville “I plan to arrange personal meetings with both individuals in the near future to discuss their roles in relevant events as detailed in the report. I will reserve judgement on the next steps, if any, with respect to them.”
Stan Bowman’s full statement can be read here, but the line of “I relied on the direction of my superior that he would take appropriate action. Looking back, now knowing he did not handle the matter promptly, I regret assuming he would do so.” is some grade-A buck-passing. Horrifyingly Joe Paterno-esque.
Shannon (Doyle) Turner Returns
A long awaited rumor was finally confirmed on Tuesday as the Connecticut Whale announced that defender Shannon Turner, who retired at the end of last season, was coming out of retirement for her seventh PHF season. The NWHL OG spent her entire career with the Whale and is the franchise leader in games played (89), assists (31), penalty minutes (100), and points among defenders (38). The captain really was a pillar of the franchise and will join Hannah Beattie, Tori Howran and newcomer Rebecca Morse to round out the top four on the Whale blueline.
ICYMI- This Week on Brotherly Puck
Written by: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)