So now that the season is dead for sure...(like there was any chance it would magically pop up like Taker does)...the pros are coming down to play for the minors. This happened locally when the Motor City Mechanics of the UHL signed Chris Draper, Derian Hatcher and Chris Chelios on Tues.
Cheli and Draper couldn't get their insurance through quick enough to play against the Flint Generals Weds., so only Hatcher played. He scored a late PPG and Flint won, 5-1. Good for buisness though, a normal Weds night crowd at Perrani Arena is around 1,100 (and that's including season tickets sold)...the games was a Standing Room Only sellout of 4,900 (4700 seats + 200 SROs), figure that most seats go for 11 bucks on average a pop and they made a killing in the box office. The Mechanics play here again twice in March, so that should be interesting.
Now here's the thing that pisses me off. And maybe someone could write a column on it, since I have't really seen it yet. These guys are stealing ice time from the guys that bust their asses off to play in the league. The all-time goal scorer of the minors, Kevin Kerr, is on Flint and he summed it up this way: '(St. Louis' Chris) Pronger said through the media that if they use replacement players next year that we would be wrong to cross the picket lines and be 'scabs'...what are they doing coming to our league? They don't want a hard cap but, we have a league that has a 10,000/week salary cap. They're coming down here and stealing our jobs. They should be ashamed of themselves.'
I agree with the guy...now yes, it's true that guys aren't getting kicked off their team when an NHLer comes into the league, but the fourth and third liners are losing ice time...that doesn't seem right. I mean yeah, it's a boost to the teams (In fact, Barret Jackman and someone else from the Blues just joined the Peoria Rivermen too) finacially, but there were A LOT of people at the game booing Hatcher, which shows what the people really think of this. Of course the Flint Generals are working on adding a few guys also, so it's kinda a toss-up as to how the fans may react to those guys.
Another thing that ticks me off is that Hatcher, Chelios and Draper are only playing the home games and the games in the state (there's 5 UHL teams, Flint, Motor City, Muskegon, Port Huron and K-Zoo) so they gyyp the people that want to see these guys when they are on the road. What the hell do these guys think they are? Roger Clemens?
So, there's my rant.
On a bit of happier news (if your a Mechanics fan), The MC Mechanics defeated the Rockford Icehogs in a Shootout. Chris Chelios scored first for MC, assisted by NMU's alum Dave Bonk. During the second with MC leading 3-1, NMU's other alum Terry Harrison scored for Rockford bringing them within one. Harrison then helped tie the game by assisting in Rockfords third goal of the night.
Other notable alums on each team were Matt Hunter for the Motor City Mechanics, and Marquette native Chris Gobert playing for Rockford.
What this really shows is that fans really want the NHL back. We just are not being that vocal about it. Why, because the minors and college is just as fun to watch... if not more.