Just because it's the off-season in hockey doesn't mean that things aren't happening with the Houston Aeros. Since the end of the season, head coach Kevin Constantine and his coaching staff have been retained by the new management regime of the parent Minnesota Wild. But Aeros general manager Tom Lynn, who helped to assemble the 2008-09 team that made it to the AHL's Western Conference Finals, was let go by the Wild. The Wild has replaced him with Jim Mill who, along with being the Aeros general manager, will also be the Wild assistant general manager.
Unlike my counterparts up in Minnesota who found Lynn to be somewhat difficult with which to deal, I didn't have any problems with him down here and he was always able to provide much-needed answers on various topics surrounding the team.
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But Mill might end up being a good fit for the team as for the past 11 years he's been an executive with the American Hockey League. For the past two seasons he was the league's executive vice president of hockey operations which included managing the on-ice officials, overseeing the player disciplinary process, and developing and executing the league's playing schedule. So hopefully he'll get the AHL scheduling office to be a bit a kinder to the team when it comes to scheduling than he was when he had the job.
The Aeros leading scorer last season, Corey Locke, has departed via free agency to the New York Rangers. There is no word, yet, on the status of free agents Krys Kolanos, Jesse Schultz, or Matt Beaudoin, all of whom were key parts of the Aeros offense last season. And while I would like very much to see the return of Kolanos and Schultz, I want very much for Mills and the staff to make sure they get Beaudoin signed to a contract. And while they're at it, perhaps they can get Mitch Love signed as well -- it's always a good idea to have a big fan favorite like Love under contract. It also looks like defenseman Paul Albers and forward Peter Olvecky will be with different organizations next season.
The Aeros are also going to have some new in-state competition as the Texas Stars (located just outside of Austin) are joining the AHL for this upcoming season. The AHL released some scheduling details yesterday, and this season 52 of the Aeros' 80 regular season games will be played in the state of Texas as they will be playing 40 games at Toyota Center and six games each in Austin and San Antonio.
I would also be remiss if I failed to mention that the Aeros will be holding auditions for the Aeros Dynamics cheerleading squad on August 1 at the Park Shops in downtown. As one who attends just about every Aeros game at Toyota Center, I just want to state that the Dynamics provide great atmosphere at the game, and I'm willing to help judge the auditions if the Aeros are looking for some help.