|Chicago Wolves center Jason Krog leads the AHL in points (101), assists (65) and goals (36), and could be just the third player in League history to win the offensive Triple Crown.
Chicago Wolves center Jason Krog
has one message for the AHL: "I'm outta here."
There is only one proper retort from burned opponents: "We'll help you pack."
With 101 points this year, the 32-year-old Krog is again making it look ridiculously easy to produce in the second-best league in the world. If the NHL doesn't want to give him another chance next year, Krog fully expects to pack for Europe again instead of dominating the AHL.
"I'm pretty sure this is my last year to play in the AHL," Krog said. "I think it's a great league. I'm getting old, too. I should let the kids play."
Krog has played in 198 NHL games, but hasn't been a regular there since 2003-04. That was followed by stretches in Austria, Switzerland and Sweden before he signed a two-year deal with Atlanta last season.
Krog scored a preposterous 80 points in 44 games for Chicago last season. This year he leads the AHL in points (101), assists (65) and goals (36). He is threatening to become just the third player in history to win the Triple Crown of offense.
"It (scoring) seems harder this year. I sort of played on different lines, the first 40, 50 games. I think we play a more defensive style, too, this year," he said. "I wasn't even thinking about (the Triple Crown). My friend back home was talking about the triple crown, I didn't even know what he was talking about. I thought it was horse racing."
In a sense, that applies to Krog, since he's the lead thoroughbred of Chicago's offense. Chicago paces the AHL with 273 goals, an average of 3.73 per game. Krog has tallied at least one point in 57 of his 73 games this season, which includes 30 games with two or more. Yet he hasn't taken one shift in Atlanta this season, despite playing on a one-way deal.
"It's such a fine line between the AHL and the NHL," Krog said. "Sometimes you have to get lucky and have a couple of good breaks. I didn't really think about it for the first bit (of the season). Now, it's a little bit frustrating."
There's plenty left to brighten up Krog's farewell stretch. He's obviously the top candidate for league MVP honors, and the near-unstoppable Wolves have a chance to give him the parting gift of his first Calder Cup.
"It'd be a lot cooler (leaving) if we win," he said. "It's a good feeling to know I can still help out and still be effective. I'm fortunate for the situation I'm in."
How do you like them apples? -- Any opponent that tries to play head games with the Worcester Sharks for the rest of the season is messing with the wrong team.
When defenseman David MacDonald signed with the team last week, it gave the Sharks four players from Harvard. The other three are defenseman Tom Walsh
and forwards Tom Cavanagh
and Dennis Packard
The quartet didn't play at the same time with the Crimson, but are now able to share common links in Worcester.
"I guess any time we're sitting around the house, stories will come up from the college days," said Packard, who lives with Walsh and Cavanagh. "There might be a few Economist magazines laying around the house, or reading the New York Times online, but that's about the extent of it."
Walsh said he and his buddies have to make sure to get their facts straight in any group discussion.
"If any one of us says something that isn't right, obviously we get made fun of. Nothing too crazy," he said.
When you're here, you're family -- Rookie forward Tom Fritsche
doesn't have to look far for support or advice as he begins his pro career with the Lake Erie Monsters.
Fritsche's older brother, Dan, plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets
. And his hometown of Parma, Ohio, is about 10 minutes away from the Monsters' barn in Cleveland. At any given Lake Erie game, Fritsche could have between five and 30 family members rooting him on.
"I think it's a great league. I'm getting old, too. I should let the kids play." -- Jason Krog
"Ah, it's real cool," he said. "People say we're lucky. You don't get that chance very often."
Columbus is only two hours away from Cleveland, but Tom's move to the Monsters represents a significant withdrawal from his brother. Tom, Colorado's second-round pick in the 2005 draft, joined Lake Erie after concluding his career at Ohio State. While playing there, he lived with his brother.
"It helped out watching him, seeing the (pro) lifestyle," Tom said. "It's just how he handled himself, his schedule, his daily habits."
Tom contributed a goal and two assists through his first nine games with the Monsters. If he steps up his production enough to force a call-up, he'll put a bit of a stretch on some family ties that haven't had to reach much beyond the borders of Ohio lately.
It's a tradeoff he'll take.
"Hopefully it happens one day. Denver is a great city," Fritsche said. "I wouldn't mind it too much."
Good news in Rochester -- Rochester played the 4,000th regular season game in its 52-year AHL history when it met Manitoba on March 28.
The Amerks got some good news last week about the likelihood of that total growing next season.
According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, negotiations to sell majority interest in the Americans to Canadian entrepreneur Curt Styres are in the final stages, giving the troubled franchise new financial life.
The sale involves a buyout of part-owners Walter Turek and Randall Latona. Current president Steve Donner would remain a minority owner.
Once the sale is complete, the team faces the potentially contentious issues of negotiating a lease to keep using Blue Cross Arena. The Amerks must also secure an affiliation for next season, and it's believed Florida, which currently shares an affiliation with Buffalo, is interested in taking over as the sole parent club.
Around the AHL --
Rochester, whose 54 points are the fewest in the Western Conference, beat Grand Rapids on March 29 to improve its mark to 5-1-0-1 vs. the Griffins this season. ... Hartford's 10-1 win against Springfield on March 29 marked the largest margin of victory in an AHL game since Oct. 23, 2004, when the old Worcester IceCats blanked Springfield by a 9-0 score. The Wolf Pack have scored 42 goals during their current eight-game points streak and have surpassed the 100-points mark in the standings for the fourth time in the last five seasons and the fifth time in their 11 years of existence. ... By beating Lake Erie on March 29, Syracuse tied the league high for consecutive games with a point this season, 16, and the franchise's all-time winning streak mark, eight. ... Chicago's .705 winning percentage (49-19-2-3) is on pace to set a franchise record; the 1999-2000 Turner Cup championship squad holds the top mark with a .695 winning percentage. ... Chicago's 49th victory, attained by beating Manitoba on April 1, matched its highest total in seven seasons as a member of the AHL, a mark that it also reached in 2004-05 (49-24-5-2). ... When Jeremy Duchesne
made his AHL debut in net for the Phantoms vs. Binghamton on March 28, he became the fourth different goaltender to play for Philadelphia in a three-game span, joining Scott Munroe
, Martin Houle
and Michael Teslak
. ... Bob Clarke, general manager of the Phantoms' 1998 and 2005 Calder Cup championship teams, was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame on March 30. ... The Griffins rank second in the league in shots per game (32.68) but just 22nd in goals scored (2.65). Opposing goaltenders boast a 920 save percentage vs. Grand Rapids this season. ... During the Griffins' 6-1 win against the Monsters on March 26, Kyle Quincey
was whistled for 34 minutes in the box, setting a franchise record for most penalty minutes in a game. Quincey also tied Darryl Bootland
's mark of 29 minutes in a single period during the second frame. ... Manchester rookie Brady Murray
tallied 10 points (6-4) in 14 games during March after recording 11 points (4-7) in his first 38 AHL games. ... Providence has won 50 games for the first time since 1998-99, when the Bruins went 56-16-4-4 en route to the Calder Cup championship. ... Each of Houston's last 10 victories has been by one goal.