Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stars re-sign Stephenson; announce 2010-11 opponents

The Texas Stars announced the re-signing of defenseman Matt Stephenson for the 2010-11 season. Stephenson, who has yet to score his first professional goal, was a stout defensive presence in the playoffs for the Stars. After being a healthy scratch for portions of the season, alternating with Trevor Ludwig, Stephenson jumped into the lineup fulltime when Ivan Vishneskiy departed via trade.

Additionally, Texas announced their opponents for the coming season. There is no schedule yet; we just know how many times we will play each team. The AHL has a home/home type policy. If Texas plays against a team, it will always be an even number of matches since each team gets a home game.

Opponent Home games/away games:
Houston 6/6
San Antonio 5/5
Oklahoma City 5/5
Chicago 3/3
Peoria 3/3
Milwaukee 3/3
Rockford 3/3

Abbotsford 2/2
Lake Erie 2/2
Manitoba 2/2
Grand Rapids 3/3
Hamilton 1/1
Toronto 1/1

Syracuse 1/1

My personal feeling is that 56 of 80 games against the West Division is too much. Texas does not even play all of the teams in the Western Conference. Rochester, a member of the Western Conference's north division, has yet to face off against the Texas Stars in the team's history.

Additionally, Texas will face a single Eastern Conference team the entire year, the Syracuse Crunch. Texas will miss out on a rematch with the Hershey Bears and still will not have played 13 of the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference. Other teams, such as Rochester, have even more games against their own division (64/80). Is travel really that big of a concern that it stifles competition to this degree?

Here's the release for both stories:
The Texas Stars announced on Thursday that the club has agreed to terms with defenseman Matt Stephenson for the 2010-11 season.

Stephenson, 26, will enter his third full year of professional hockey after playing in 61 games last season for the Texas Stars. The Midland, ON native posted a career-high five assists for a total of five points in 2009-10. Stephenson finished fourth on the team among all defensemen with 47 penalty minutes. The former St. Cloud State defender helped Texas reach the Calder Cup Finals, posting four assists in 24 playoff games this past spring.

For his career, Stephenson has played in 136 games professionally, including 83 in the AHL. Stephenson has seven assists and 81 penalty minutes for his AHL career. In 2008-09, Stephenson played in 53 games for the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads, scoring five times and setting up 22 others for 27 points.

The Texas Stars also revealed their 2010-11 opponents, including 28 home games against West Division visitors. The Stars will play their in-state rival, the Houston Aeros 12 times in the regular season, including six games at Cedar Park Center. Texas will also face San Antonio and the Oklahoma City Barons ten times in 2010-11, with each team hosting five games. The remaining West Division opponents (Chicago, Milwaukee, Peoria and Rockford) will each face Texas six times, with each team hosting three games. In all, 56 of the Stars 80 regular season games will be played against West Division rivals.

Texas will face six teams from the Western Conference’s North Division. The Stars will play Abbotsford, Lake Erie and Manitoba a total of four times, including a pair of home games per side. The Stars will face Grand Rapids more than any other team in the North Division. The Griffins and Stars will each host three games in 2010-11. The Stars will also play Hamilton and Toronto twice, with each team hosting one game. Just like 2009-10, Texas will play the Syracuse Crunch, the only team on the schedule from the Eastern Conference. The Stars and Crunch will each host a game after splitting a pair last season.

5 comments:

  1. It's also VERY boring as a fan to see the same teams over and over again. The AHL has to make some changes. This is one reason I am dropping my season tix and just buying a few select games that I want to see.

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  2. I like the repetition because familiarity breeds contempt, but a home-and-home against Hershey wouldn't have bankrupted the organization. Nor would a basic road trip out east, where they could play a number of teams along the eastern seaboard, just like any east coast team could come to Austin, and play Houston, SA and now OK.

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  3. I hadn't even considered letting my season tickets go, but yes overall I agree. 12 games vs Houston is too many.

    I'd love to see the Devils, Pens, the Sharks, or a Bears rematch. I get that travel isn't cheap, and budgets at this level aren't the same as the NHL, but surely the league can do better than this.

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  4. I think it's a lot like what we saw in the NHL. Division games went from 8 to 6 a year and the fan experience improved. Every team plays every team. I know that may not be possible in the AHL, but maybe you pick a division every year to visit in the opposite conference, a la the NHL in 2006, etc.

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  5. I'm a die-hard Stars fan, so my butt will be in my season ticket seat for every game possible (plus some away games I'm sure), but I have to admit that this is pretty frustrating. I was expecting a high number of Houston and SA games due to the Lone Star cup, but almost half the games next season being against them and OKC is downright silly. Syracuse and Rochester are a whopping 86 miles apart, we couldn't play the Amerks while we're up there??

    Oh well, at least we won't have to deal with Bears fans until the playoffs.

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