Below is an excerpt from the most recent episode of the 2015-16 Blackhawks Insider podcast, featuring GM of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard. Click here to hear the complete conversation.
On the three-year extension for IceHogs Head Coach Ted Dent:
Teddy’s done a tremendous job from Day 1. He’s been with our organization from way back in Norfolk so it’s been 10 years since he joined us as an assistant coach and worked under great coaches like Mike Haviland and Bill Peters until taking over the reins five years ago. We’re thrilled to have him locked up for another three years. He’s been a pivotal part of the development in Rockford, working with these young players and helping them graduate to Chicago. He does a great job with us and we’re thrilled he’ll be back.
On Rockford's ability to produce NHL-ready players:
We all have a great sense of pride throughout the organization when these young players that we draft or sign come through Rockford and graduate to Chicago. There are a lot of people involved in this; it’s not just people in Rockford. [Director of Player Recruitment] Ron Anderson and his staff, [Vice President of Amateur Scouting] Mark Kelley and his staff, [Director of Player Development] Barry Smith and his staff—everyone plays a huge role in the scouting and development of these kids. When they...graduate to Chicago, and not just to be a spot on the roster, but to come up and contribute, we’re all very proud of that.
We’re in a difficult position here. We have to expedite the development of our young players because of our situation in the salary cap world that we live in, and so far we’ve done a great job of working with these kids and helping them obtain their goal of being in Chicago.
On the playoff format in the AHL:
One of the problems in the American Hockey League that we were running into a few years ago is that by the time we got to the Calder Cup Final, if we played a Game 7, we might be two or three days past the Stanley Cup Final, which is wrong. The hockey world should end with the Stanley Cup being hoisted, so as a league we decided that the first round would be a best-of-five, and the higher seed gets to choose. Do you want to start at home with two games and do three on the road, or would you like to start on the road for two and come home for three. A lot of teams do choose to start on the road, see if you can steal one, and then come home and take two of three. It worked for us last year down in Texas, when we won both, but it’s going to be important for us to get off to a good start [Wednesday] night in Rockford.
On the growth in Rockford's attendance:
It’s a combination of everything in our organization. The excitement surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks, especially over the last seven, eight, nine years, and the success that’s been enjoyed here gets trickled down to Rockford. The fans, they’re all Blackhawks fans. They get excited about seeing our players, whether they come up or come down, and the team there is having success. And I think a big part of it is the players and how they interact with the community. Going out and helping with local Boys and Girls Clubs, minor hockey and being very visible in the community. I think that goes a long way.