Around the League: Idaho Steelheads Not Satisfied With Mediocrity

Michael Neal played the entire 2011-12 season in Idaho, which made the playoffs but had its first losing season in team history, including a ten-game losing streak. (Credit: Texas Stars)

We're getting closer to the summer doldrums, so it's time to pull out the old "Around the League" features and dust off the cobwebs. Throughout the summer, I'll compile stories I find and try to post them on a regular basis, something like Puck Daddy's "Puck Headlines" or Defending Big D's "Daily Links", but with more commentary. Here we go...

Despite making it to the second round of the playoffs, the Idaho Steelheads announced yesterday that they would not be renewing the contract of head coach and general manager Hardy Sauter. Sauter came in two years ago after two years as the head coach of the WHL's Spokane Chiefs. Amazingly, up until that year, the Steelheads had never won fewer than 40 games in a season. Under Sauter's leadership, they won 32 and 31, earning their first sub-.500 record in the team's nine-year history.

This is a very interesting "firing" for the system. Idaho has been a destination franchise for players over the years because of how well they are treating and the winning environment. Fans have become accustomed to it over the years. Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman points out, "[Sauter] was booed by fans during games this season, particularly as the Steelheads endured a 10-game losing streak in February and March."

This is a positive sign for Idaho continuing their reign as a top ECHL franchise. They are not satisfied with mediocrity or happy with "just making the post-season". Each and every year is a run for the Kelly Cup for this franchise and the Texas Stars should be happy to have them as their affiliate. Now if Dallas/Texas could just start sending more prospects their way this season...

  • San Antonio won their first ever playoff series in a thrilling double-OT game in Chicago. It was also Dan Weiss's first playoff series win in his history as a broadcaster. Can you tell from his call of the game-winning play (starts at 1:10 mark)?
  • With SA moving onto the second round, we're that much close to having yet another Texas-based team in the CC Finals for the third straight year. No pressure.
  • Remember how tough the West Division was in the regular season? They're still proving it in the playoffs as three of the four remaining Western Conference teams are from the West. The lone North Division representative is down in their series as well.
  • Taylor Vause did a lot more than just Photoshopping in his free time this season with the Swift Current Broncos. Vause won the WHL's Humanitarian of the Year Award for his charitable work. This is just another reason why the Stars should sign this kid to an ELC. His numbers show he can play, but his character shows he will be an asset as well. You can never have enough character in your system. Vause will now compete with the OHL and QMJHL's Humanitarian winners for the CHL Humanitarian Award. given at the CHL Award in late May.
  • Extra bit of info: Matt Fraser is a previous winner of the WHL's Humanitarian Award. Read more about that here.
  • Some Stars are still in Austin. Travis Morin, Maxime Fortunus and Mathieu Tousignant are still doing dry land work with DJ Amadio at the Cedar Park Center. Colton Sceviour headed out yesterday, as his Twitter feed told us. Finally, Brad Lukowich had knee surgery last week and has spent a lot of time watching TV since, from the sounds of it. What else are you supposed to do with a busted up knee?
  • Finally, if you haven't seen it, Richard Bachman is competing for the USA at the World Championships in Sweden this May. He is blogging for about the experience.