Diamonds and Ice

Quad City Flames hitting the road. Is he USHL next there?

Well, it’s official. The parent Calgary Flames have released the Quad City Flames from their obligation to provide Calgary an American Hockey League franchise for their players to develop in. The team is officially don after this season, which ends in April.

It’s bewildering how an area that went to nuts over the Quad City Mallards for all those years could simply ignore a higher quality product. Guys in the AHL have already played in the NHL  and are just a phone call from going back there. It’s wonderful hockey.

So now what with the Quad Cities. There has been some talk that it could get a team and join the United States Hockey League. It’s a geographic fit, for sure, though it’s hard to imagine the public down there thinking junior hockey is all the rage after failing to support an AHL team.

At any rate, here’s a story from the Quad City Times on the future of hockey in the area:

Leaders say Q-C hockey has future after Flames

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By Craig DeVrieze | Thursday, March 12, 2009 7:42 PM CDT | (


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The hockey doctor senses a pulse.

“I don’t think hockey is dead in the Quad-Cities,” said Howard Cornfield, architect of the Quad-City Mallards’ mad success from 1997 through the middle portion of this decade. “It’s injured right now.”

The American Hockey League’s Quad-City Flames will limp out of town in April, a victim of too few fans and too much expense.

Hockey attendance is at an all-time low in the Quad-Cities this season, at 2,967 a game, or barely a third of the fans who packed the building when Cornfield’s Mallards averaged 8,646 in 1997-1998.

Cornfield and others think those decade-old numbers still are proof that hockey should resurface at the i wireless Center, perhaps even in the form of another American Hockey League team.

When that should happen is subject to debate.

Scott Mullen, executive director of the iwC, wants hockey back in his building at the earliest possible juncture.

“I am a hockey guy and I want hockey in the Quad-Cities,” Mullen said Thursday from southern California, where he was on arena business. “That is one of our top priorities. We worked hard to get the AHL to come. We want hockey in the building.”

In fact, the Quad-City Civic Center Authority  invested more than $700,000 in bringing the rink and the arena up to AHL standards when Quad-Cities Sports Ventures and Calgary announced plans to bring the AHL here in the spring of 2007.

The arena’s lease with QCSV calls for the Q-C Flames ownership group to repay that money if it didn’t complete the five-year term of the lease. So lead QCSV partner Dennis Voss is anxious to find a new tenant willing to assume those final three years.

But who?

Voss said potential expansion of the International Hockey League, which formed from the remnants of the United Hockey League QCSV left behind two years ago, could include the Quad-Cities.

IHL president Paul Pickard said that’s something his league would welcome — “if there’s ownership interest.”

Cornfield, who has contacts throughout the minor league hockey world, said he knows of a couple groups looking to get into the hockey business.

But the IHL, currently a six-team league with a couple of teams in distress, isn’t an option he would recommend, he said.

Geographically, he said the AHL makes the most sense, but it might be too late at this juncture to attract the interest of any NHL teams looking for a place to move an affiliate.

NHL Edmonton has a dormant franchise. Still unannounced is which AHL franchise will move to Austin, Texas, next year as a Dallas Stars affiliate.

Another option that might be in the works is to bring a high-level junior team from the United States Hockey League.

Mullen said that might not be the best option, after having exposed Q-C fans to hockey a level shy of the NHL.

“I can’t say it would be ruled out, but a building our size would seek a higher level professional team,” he said.

Perhaps the best option, Cornfield said, is to allow the patient some time to rehabilitate.

“It is not a good time for hockey in our town right now,” he said.  “I think similar to other markets that have gone away and come back to life, this market probably has to heal for a year or two and you’ll certainly see some interest.

“The building is too good. The fan base is too good.”

Cornfield said if an AHL team decided now to play here in 2010-2011, it could spend all of next winter re-preparing the market.

“Hopefully, they open an office in September and start working their tails off selling hockey here,” he said.

The best marketing tool Cornfield and others can think of?


At the height of their popularity, the Mallards won three Colonial Cup championships and they reached the finals six out of seven seasons.

The Flames failed to make the AHL playoffs last year and are battling for the final spot in the West Division field right now.

“I don’t know that the league matters much,” Voss said of the potential next Q-C hockey crew, “as long its a first or second-place team.”




Former RoughRider Purcell back to NHL

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Former Cedar Rapids RoughRider Teddy Purcell was recalled from the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs to the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. He’s playing in L.A.’s game tonight at Minnesota.

It sounds like it’s only a temporary recall, however, as he is replacing standout winger Dustin Brown in the lineup because Brown’s wife just delivered a child.

“Brownie is a special kind of player with his skill and grit and physical play he has, so you’re not going to have one guy step in and fill that,” Purcell said on the Kings’ official Web site. “He was our all-star representative for a reason. It sounds cliché but you need a collective effort from everyone else just to pick it up a little bit and make up for losing him. We’re playing a Minnesota team that hasn’t had (Marian) Gaborik pretty much all year so every team goes through it and it’s the ones that seem to respond when certain guys are out of the lineup that seem to do the best.”

Purcell had a goal and six assists in 17 games earlier this season for the Kings. He made his NHL debut last season. He had 16 goals and 22 assists in 38 games this season for Manchester.

He’s expected to play on a forward line with Jarret Stoll and Kyle Calder.

“It’s always nice to come up and go in with a line that has had some success lately,” Purcell told the Kings’ Web site. “It’s unfortunate that Brown couldn’t be here because that has been one of the top lines and has been effective so hopefully I can come in and not slow those guys down at all and get those guys the puck and continue some of the success they’ve been having.

“When I first came up here and got my first taste, I was almost afraid to shoot I always wanted to pass to those guys and try to make them happy but I think as I got more comfortable here and more confidence here I think I can fit more that shooter role. Down in Manchester, I’ve been able to do both so hopefully I can carry that up here and get open for those guys and find some goals.”

Purcell also had this to say about his recall:

“With the new coaching staff, it is really big on defense and that checking part of the game and that is one of the areas I need to work on and when I was up here last time, I felt I got more comfortable with that and did a better job of being consistent but I went down and worked on some of those things and I’m being rewarded again up here. I think they know that I’m an offensive player I just have to go out and do the checking side of the game and be good in my own zone and the offense will take care of itself.”

Quad City Flames could be extinguished

A story in the Quad City Times this weekend said the future of the Quad City Flames of the Triple-A-level American Hockey League is in serious doubt.

The two-year-old franchise has incurred debt of about $2.6 million. The club ranks 28th out of 29 clubs in the AHL in attendance (2,810 per game), which is amazing considering the popularity of the preceding Quad City Mallards, which was a vastly inferior level of minor-league hockey.

Owners of the QC Flames said they have not made a final decision as of yet and are looking for an investor to help them out. Abbotsford, British Columbia apparently has been courting the parent Calgary Flames to move the team there, though that move might not be OKed by the AHL because of its geographic footprint (i.e., there are no West Coast teams).

Been to about six or seven QC Flames games this season and four or five last year. The iWireless Center is a great facility and the hockey is fantastic. The prices aren’t too bad, either. It’d be a shame to see the team go away.


McDonald’s game out, AHL All-Star Game in for D.M.?

In talking to a few people while at the state wrestling tournament this weekend, heard that Des Moines applied for but was recently denied being the host for the 2010 McDonald’s prep basketball all-American game.

The city still remains in the hunt, however, to host the American Hockey League All-Star Game next season. Both events mentioned were/are earmarked for Wells Fargo Arena. The AHL’s Iowa Chops, an affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, play in Wells Fargo Arena.

If you’ve never been to WFA for an event, do so. It’s a big-time, big-city beautiful arena that this state is lucky to have.

And the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls’ High School Union are lucky to have its availability for its state wrestling and basketball tournaments.

Former RoughRider Purcell has big night
Former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward Teddy Purcell had a pair of goals and two assists to help the Manchester Monarchs to a 6-2 win over Lake Erie in American Hockey League action Saturday night.
Purcell, 23, has 15 goals and 19 assists in 34 games for Manchester, the top farm club of the Los Angeles Kings. The right winger spent 17 games this season with the Kings, scoring a goal and adding six assists.
You’ve got to figure he’ll see some more time with Los Angeles before this season is over.
Here’s a summary of Manchester’s game last night. Notice that Lake Erie has a player whose last name is Snowball. That’s awesome!!
Manchester allowed the game’s first two goals before scoring six unanswered en route to a 6-2 win over visiting Lake Erie at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Two-time AHL All-Star Teddy Purcell tallied two goals and added two assists for the Monarchs, who won their third straight game and moved to 5-1-0-0 in their last six outings.

The Monsters initially took a 2-0 lead in the first period on Robert Snowball’s first career AHL goal and a shorthanded marker by Tom Fritsche.

Purcell cut the Monarchs’ deficit to 2-1 with a power play score before the opening frame was out, and captain Marty Murray tallied the equalizer just 10 seconds into the second, with Purcell picking up an assist. Murray now has a point in six of his last seven games (4-8-12).

Purcell’s second power play goal of the night at 1:44 gave Manchester the lead for good. Marc-Andre Cliche, Kevin Westgarth, and Richard Clune added third-period markers to account for the final margin.

With his four-point effort, Purcell extended his scoring streak to seven games (6-8-14).

Scott Parse and defenseman Alec Martinez each posted two assists apiece in the win, and goaltender Daniel Taylor made 20 saves between the pipes.

Lake Erie has now lost four straight contests.

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Former Rider Abdelkader called up to NHL

Former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward Justin Abdelkader was recalled Friday to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. Abdelkader had 14 goals and 13 assists in 44 games this season for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. Detroit plays Washington on Saturday.

The Red Wings have injuries and sickness running through their forward corp right now, which precipitated Abdelkader’s recall. You might remember he made his NHL debut late last season on a PTO (Pro Contract Tryout) before signing a three-year deal with Detroit this past offseason.

Abdelkader led Michigan State to the NCAA Division I title in the 2006-07 season. He had 27 goals and 52 points in 60 games for Cedar Rapids in its 2004-05 Clark Cup championship season.

Here’s a link to the official press release: