Date Posted: September 29, 2011
Print Edition: September 28, 2011
Disappointment: a word that is all too common at the beginning of the AHL season. As thirteen members of the Abbotsford Heat have been sent home from training camp with the Calgary Flames, hopes of making the NHL have been delayed for another season. Most members of the Heat roster, if not all, wish they could be playing hockey on a bigger stage, yet they’ve been assigned to Abbotsford. While this news is discouraging for young players, head coach Troy Ward of the Abbotsford Heat has encouraged his players to keep their chin up.
Speaking with Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald, Ward explained the message he gave to those heading to Abbotsford: “It’s disappointing, I understand that. We’ve felt (rejection) in different ways, but I understand it. Now you have to come down (to Abbotsford), work hard and prove that you want another chance.’’
Also speaking with Cruickshank was John Negrin, who just got word that he is going to play with the Heat this season. “Obviously, it’s tough,” Negrin said. “You’ve got two choices – you can be positive or negative. I’m going to go with the positive. For me, it’s about getting back out there and playing. They’re really happy that I’m healthy. I’ve had a full summer of training. I did the work off the ice, now I need to do the work on the ice.”
The discouragement is sure to fade, however, as the Heat begin the regular season and the reality of the work that needs to be done becomes clear. With Troy Ward as the new head coach, the style of play is sure to change. Last season the Heat, under Jim Playfair, were defensively minded and only scored a meager 186 goals. Ward, and the fans of the Heat, are hoping that newly arriving players will be able to pick up the slack.
Heat president Ryan Walter said of the coaching change: “Troy Ward is going to open up the gates. His team is going to go…create more offense, be in the offensive zone rather than wait for people to come back into our zone”
The question, then, is whether the Heat will have the talent to succeed with the style of play. Last season was not devoid of goals simply because of the coaching style; the coaching style was the result of the talent, experience and health of the players with which Jim Playfair had to work.
Management, at the local level and in Calgary, believe that they have added enough offensive talent to solve the problem.
For example, Ryan Howse is a player that could add some offensive juices to the Heat roster. Howse, an early cut from the Flames training camp, scored 51 goals last season with the Chilliwack Bruins and hopes to bring some of that scoring touch with him to Abbotsford.
With just a couple weeks until puck drop, nothing is solidified as far as a roster goes. And, as far as what style of play we can expect from the Heat this season: that remains to be seen.