Imagine opening your copy of Newsday one day this summer and reading an article by Arthur Staple reporting that Charles Wang and Colorado Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke had agreed to a swap. All players and coaches associated with the Isles’ would become Avs’, and the Avs’ would wear the Isles orange and blue on Long Island.
As strange as it sounds these changes happen with some regularity in the AHL. This years’ change was a bit unique in that it involved the AHL’s Calder Cup winning Norfolk Admirals.
The Anaheim Ducks and the Tampa Bay Lightning swapped their AHL affiliations in Norfolk (Admirals) and Syracuse (Crunch) respectively. So while the Calder Cup sits in Norfolk, the names of the Admirals’ players engraved on the championship trophy now play their home games in Syracuse.
The final three games played at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport were shutouts. The Sound Tigers were losers in two of those games and didn’t win the third. A scheduling conflict at the XL Center in Hartford, forced the Whale to play host to the visiting Norfolk Admirals in Bridgeport, on neutral ice, in an unfriendly environment. The only player that might have felt at ‘home’ Wednesday night was Admirals’ forward Trevor Smith, who had played over 100 games here as a popular member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Admirals won the contest with a 4-0 shutout besting the Whale and their goalie Cam ‘Tiger Killer’ Talbot, the Whale tender that got hot, and abruptly ended the season for the Sound Tigers.
A neutral site far from Norfolk, lousy weather and a Rangers vs. Capitals playoff game on TV resulted in a very small crowd. Just over 1,100 of the heartiest of fans turned out and were joined in the cheap seats by Gordie Howe, Ray Bourque and Mark Messier. The game meant nothing to the Bridgeport team, whose season had ended, but celebrations were being held by Sound Tigers from Oklahoma to Ontario, and though not nearly a Guinness record, sixty-six candles were blown out.