BY RYAN ABER
While the American Hockey League is still waiting to announce its schedule for 2011-12, the Barons did announce the breakdown of teams they will play in the upcoming season.
The most notable changes from last season include the addition of Charlotte (8 games) and Rochester (4 games) to the Barons schedule, cutting back on the number of games against Chicago (2) and additional games against new division rival Abbotsford (8 games).
All of the Barons’ 76 games will be played within the Western Conference with 34 of those games coming inside the West Division.
Here’s the breakdown (all series evenly split between home and road):
Grand Rapids: 8
Lake Erie: 4
San Antonio: 8
BY RYAN ABER
The American Hockey League announced a new divisional alignment Tuesday as its annual Board of Governors meetings continued in Hilton Head, S.C. The Oklahoma City Barons remain in the West Division with Houston, San Antonio, Texas and Abbotsford. The realignment was necessitated by Winnipeg’s return to the NHL and the city’s AHL team–and new Jets affiliate–moving to St. John’s, Newfoundland. The conferences were divided into six five-team divisions in the new alignment. St. John’s will move to the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division while Charlotte moved to the Western Conference and the Midwest Division. The playoff formats also needed to be adjusted. The division winners will earn the top three seeds in each conference while the next five teams will earn the fourth-eighth seeds. After the first round of playoffs, which will be a best-of-five, the brackets will be reseeded so that the highest remaining seed will play the lowest in each conference. All subsequent rounds of playoffs remain best-of-seven.
The scheduling format hasn’t been approved or announced yet but it’s likely the Barons will play each team in the conference. The schedule will be released later this summer.
BY RYAN ABER
Alex Giroux will make the decision on where to sign later today.
“I’m not chasing money,” Giroux said. “I’m still chasing the dream to play in the NHL.”
Giroux said he has “four or five” offers to consider, including a return to the Edmonton Oilers organization or playing in Europe. Giroux scored 78 points (32 goals, 46 assists) in 70 games with the Barons last season. He also had a goal and an assist in eight games with the Oilers.
“The money’s better if I go to Europe,” Giroux said. “I could make two or three times the money playing over there but I still think I can play in the NHL. I thought I did a good job when I was up there last year.”
Giroux, who just turned 30, said he didn’t hear from the Oilers until Friday night.
“I was sort of surprised when they called because I hadn’t heard from them before when they had my rights,” Giroux said. “I know they signed a few players yesterday. It’s a different situation there this year. Last year, they were in rebuilding mode. This year, it’s different. I could go there and get a chance later in the year but I’d rather go somewhere where I could get a chance right off the bat if the situation is right.”
Giroux said he’s spent much of the last two days studying teams’ depth charts to see where the best fit would be.
Giroux has 340 goals in 706 AHL games over 10 seasons. He’s scored five goals in 39 NHL games.
He also said he was happy for former teammate and linemate Colin McDonald, who signed a two-way deal Friday with Pittsburgh.
“He definitely deserves it,” Giroux said. “That’s great for him.”