Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when the Coyotes recall a player from their top affiliate in San Antonio and how that player joins the team so quickly and seamlessly?
Well, there are many steps in the process that have to be taken before that player’s name is printed in the transactions column in newspapers and on Web sites around the globe and before he takes the ice wearing a Coyotes jersey.
After General Manager Don Maloney and Head Coach Wayne Gretzky decide they want to promote a certain player from their team in the American Hockey League to the NHL club, Maloney contacts Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving, who also serves as GM of the Rampage, to inform him which player needs to get to the club, whether it’s at home or on the road, as soon as possible.
Treliving first contacts San Antonio Rampage Head Coach Greg Ireland to tell him the team will be recalling that player to the Coyotes. After speaking with Ireland, Treliving then calls the player to let him know he is being recalled to the Coyotes and where he must meet the team.
|Assistant G.M. Brad Treliving. |
“That’s the best part of the whole process,” Treliving said with a smile. “Every player in our system wants to get that phone call.”
After Ireland and the player are informed, Treliving then contacts a number of people who are involved in the transaction on behalf of the Coyotes.
The first call is made to Chris O’Hearn, the team’s Director of Hockey Administration.
“I have to make sure that we have the initial space on the roster to recall the player,” said O’Hearn, who is in his second season with the Coyotes. “I also make sure there are no salary cap issues and that all of the proper paperwork is submitted to the NHL before a press release is sent out.”
O’Hearn also is responsible for making certain the player doesn’t have to go through re-entry waivers in order to join the team. If waivers or re-entry waivers are required, the player must clear them before joining the team. Once the NHL approves the transaction, a release announcing it is written by a member of the team’s Media Relations Department and distributed to the media.
As O’Hearn is submitting the paperwork to NHL Central Registry, Treliving is talking to Manager of Team Services Lesa Guth and Team Travel Coordinator Rick Braunstein about getting the player to wherever the Coyotes are that day.
Guth is responsible for all of the travel associated with the Rampage, which includes making sure players who are recalled by the Coyotes are able to join the team in a timely manner. She books flights, ground transportation and rooming depending on if the team is on the road or at home. Braunstein coordinates with Guth to make sure a player is set for travel and makes the necessary arrangements if the team is on the road, such as securing a hotel room and getting him added to the charter flight manifest.
“Travel is tricky because of the location of some of these minor league teams,” Treliving said. “When you have a team playing in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Pa.), flights aren’t always available like they are in Phoenix, so that is a consideration when recalling a player.”
Head Equipment Manager Stan Wilson is in charge of preparing the player’s Coyotes equipment. The players have a stable set of equipment that they will bring with them from the AHL to the NHL, but Wilson has the specific team gear that the players will need such as helmets, gloves, sweaters, socks and pants.
“We bring extra equipment anywhere we go just in case a player is recalled,” Wilson said.
During training camp, Wilson prepares a jersey for every player that is with the Coyotes or the Rampage. When the team leaves on a road trip, Wilson puts all of those jerseys in a trunk that holds about 40, including a few non-named jerseys in case of an acquisition.
“We have all the things in place to make a jersey (nameplate) on the spot if need be,” Wilson said.
Coyotes forwards Kevin Porter and Jeff Hoggan were recalled from San Antonio on Feb. 4, met the team in Detroit and played that night. It was Porter’s third recall to the team and Hoggan’s first. Hoggan called the experience a whirlwind day.
|Kevin Porter |
“It’s a credit to the trainers and the equipment staff,” Hoggan said. “They do a great job. Our trainer (in San Antonio) had to get up early, go to the rink in Binghamton (N.Y.), grab our gear and get it to the hotel. We were up at four o’clock in the morning going out of Binghamton and our flight was at six. He probably got up the night before and got our equipment to the front desk so it was waiting for us so we could get it to the airport. The trainers pretty much take care of you. They take care of your gear and get it all situated. You just basically have to prepare yourself and get there. I didn’t know where the team was or what was going on. It was a long day. You never know when you are going to get called up. You have to be ready at any time.”
Had the Coyotes been at home when they recalled Porter and Hoggan, a slightly different plan would have been implemented. Flights to Phoenix would have been booked and the players most likely would have been met at the airport by Director of Team Security Jim O’Neal and taken to rooms reserved for them at a hotel.
Forward Steven Goertzen has been recalled three times this season from San Antonio, with his first coming in January, where he joined the Coyotes in Minnesota.
“Our coach just called me into the office and told me I was going up,” Goertzen said. “It’s exciting. You instantly get the nervous feeling back. It had been a couple of years since I have gone through that and been in the NHL. It was a nice feeling, but I was pretty nervous.”
|Steven Goertzen (center) started the season with San Antonio. |
Goertzen was told of the decision by Ireland while the Rampage were in San Antonio. Instead of boarding a plane to travel to Rockford (Ill.) with the Rampage, Goertzen boarded a different flight to join the Coyotes in Minnesota, who were beginning a four-game road trip.
“You get used to the travel of going up and down, but you get a nervous and exciting feeling while getting ready to join the team,” said Goertzen, who called his parents and family after being recalled.
The Coyotes and the 29 other NHL teams makes dozens of these recalls every season and have honed the process into a hockey science. Of course, inclement weather can always create a wrinkle or two, but for the most part the process rarely fails and the players reach their new destination on time.
“It’s a critical process, especially if the AHL player we have recalled has been recalled because of an injury to one of our NHL players,” Treliving said. “When that happens, we need that player to reach us in a timely manner, and they almost always do.”