We're back: Catching up on off-season news

By John Lachmann
Twitter: @rednblackhawks

Miami’s exhibition game vs. the University of Windsor is just two days away, so it’s officially time to start writing about the team again.

Let’s take a look at some of the goings-on in the RedHawks’ off-season:

NO ONE LEFT EARLY – One of the best news items of the past six months was no news at all. There was a chance one non-impact player could’ve moved on, but everyone from 2012-13 with eligibility remaining is back in Oxford this fall.

Drafted players of course are the biggest pro flight risks, but junior Jimmy Mullin and sophomores Sean Kuraly both still have something to prove at this level and Riley Barber will make fans sweat each summer, especially since the Washington Capitals want him to turn pro.

Next summer should be very interesting, since he would be able to play in the AHL in 2014-15, as would Kuraly who could have a breakout season. A big season by Mullin could cause him to consider leaving a year early as well.

FENTON BECOMES NCHC COMMISH – Miami’s Josh Fenton was named commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

RedHawkey thinks this was a great move for the conference, which could not have hired a more qualified candidate.

And beyond qualifications, Fenton is a class act and a delight to interview. He doesn’t sugarcoat, answers questions directly and clearly, and if he can’t answer directly he’ll explain why.

WEISMAN FOLLOWS FENTON TO DENVER – Miami director of communications Michael Weisman is leaving to take the same position with the NCHC this week.

Weisman did a fantastic job in that role with the RedHawks, especially considering he had to put up with me.

His game stories were always descriptive and his other press releases were transparent and informative.

The director of communications does everything – photos, setting up interviews, writing game stories and new releases, compiling statistics, updating the media guide – and from a media perspective, dealing with a person who is good at his job makes writers’ work much easier.

From a media standpoint, dealing with a good communications person is like having a solid stay-at-home defenseman. You may not always notice him if he’s doing a good job but you certainly miss him when he leaves.

JON WHITACRE DIES – Former Miami goalie Jon Whitacre died in a plane crash at age 28 in July. He was flying with an instructor, and was working toward his pilot’s license.

Whitacre appeared in one game in 2006-07 and stopped the lone shot he faced. He was a member of the 2009 team that went to the national championship game.

He was also a former U.S. Marine and graduated from Miami with a psychology degree in 2010.

Despite his limited playing time with the RedHawks, in his obituary his family asked that in lieu of players, any memorials be made to the Miami hockey program.

SHOOTOUTS COMING TO THE NCHC – Shortly after Fenton was named NCHC commissioner, the NCHC announced it was adopting the CCHA’s scoring system, including implementation of the shootout.

To review: Teams will receive three points for wins in regulation or overtime and zero for a regulation or overtime loss. Teams will receive one point each if a game is tied at the end of overtime, and the shootout winner receives an additional point.

In other words:

Win (regulation or OT): 3 points.
Shootout win: 2 points.
Shootout loss: 1 point.
Loss (regulation or OT): 0 points.

I’m not a fan of the shootout, but at least this points system minimizes its impact.

EDWARDSON JOINS MIAMI COACHING STAFF – Former RedHawk Derek Edwardson was named an assistant coach.

The 2004 Miami graduate scored 38 goals and dished for 82 assists, totaling 120 points in his RedHawks career. He is tied for 27th on Miami’s all-time points leaders list.

Edwardson played parts of three seasons in the AHL and rolled up 173 points in three ECHL seasons. He also logged six seasons in Europe, playing in the German and Italian leagues.

LOUIS DRAFTED – Incoming freshman Anthony Louis was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round.

Louis, who is from Chicago’s far west suburb of Winfield, played for the U.S. National Development Team in 2012-13 where he scored 22 goals and picked up 30 assists in 63 games.

Louis also took silver at the Under-18 World Junior Championships last season.

SEAT LICENSING COMING NEXT YEAR – For season ticket holders (myself included), a $500 seat license will need to be purchased for each set of seats in an account if one wants to keep his or her current seat location.

Also, to retain each seat, a $125 per year donation to the Red & White Club will be required. This amount is required even if one does not pay the seat license fee. Anyone who does not pay the seat license fee will be reseated.

Miami said that

ticket prices will be frozen for the next three years, and reseating could happen again (read here: will happen) in 2016-17. And the seat license fee will likely be required again to keep seats.

RedHawkey understands the increases. The team will endure substantially more travel in this conference, as Miami will need to fly to almost all of its conference opponents.

With eight straight tournament appearances, the second-longest streak in the nation, the RedHawks need to pay their coaching staff accordingly.

And because of the size of the rink – only about 1,800 to 2,000 seats are available to season-ticket holders due to the student section, parents, etc. – there’s a limited base from which to collect revenue.

We also like the idea that at least an avenue has been paved to keep one’s current seats.

Our thought process is: We love our seats, which are on the glass parallel to the faceoff circles in front of the net opponents shoot at twice. There’s no way if we didn’t pay the seat license that we would be able to retain those seats.

I think the problem might be that season-ticket holders who aren’t in love with their seats might forego the license and take their chances with re-seating, especially knowing it could be a $500 fee every three seasons.

After the initial sticker shock in May, most people I’ve heard from or talked to are going to keep their season tickets. As for the seat license, I don’t know. My guess is half will pay it, half won’t.

The unfortunate thing is for those without substantial disposable income, paying these premiums will likely come at the expense of donations to other organizations like the Blueline Club or other sports, especially the struggling football program.

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