Just thought I would share a little Houston Aeros hockey news today -- for some reason, I can't get into football yet, but I'm fully up on all hockey. I can't explain it...okay, yes I can. I got to watch the tryouts for the Aeros cheerleaders, the Aero Dynamics, on Saturday, so hockey's pretty relevant in my mind at the moment.
First, I spoke with Aeros Vice President of Business Operations Jamie Spencer last week. The team's been in kind of turmoil this off season with the departure of several popular players, front office staff, and longtime trainer Jerry Meins. Spencer wanted to address some of this, and he wanted to give some info on what might be upcoming this season for the team.
"Talking to the [hockey] staff, and talking to folks like Jim Mill [the new Aeros GM] and Chuck Fletcher [the new GM of the Aeros' parent club Minnesota Wild] , I'm extremely excited for the Aeros organization right now," he said. "I'm excited for the Wild organization. It's been a long time since we've had a fresh look. Some fans might get nervous about that, and other fans get excited -- and I hope that they're getting excited because there's been a lot of change. Specifically on the hockey side of our business. And that isn't a bad thing."
The team will be continuing with many of its popular fan promotions, including military nights, Boy Scout/Girl Scout nights, the Guns-and-Hoses tug-of-war, and the Bikini Contest to select Ms. Aero. But dates for these events won't be specified until the AHL releases the team schedules, which should happen within the next week or two.
"We want to make the games fun," Spencer said. "People need to come there, enjoy hockey, blow off some steam, so we'll continue to try and be creative and find things."
The team is currently looking into the possibility of more TV games for this season, and one of the things the Aeros will be discussing with Toyota Center is the possibility of replays on the video boards for all home games as opposed to just weekend games.
"The big thing [with the Aeros] is that we're trying to develop players that can move up to the Minnesota team," Spencer said of the roster changes. "The players that have moved up here [to Minnesota], many have contributed. It seems like each year we get guys who become everyday NHL players. Development is a huge part of that....
"The only thing I can say is that we are continuing to want to win in Houston....we made offers to everybody we could. Some of these guys after having successful seasons, they get more money going other places or are more marketable now....It's not that we didn't want to sign them, it's that they're getting more money to go to other places."
As for the Aero Dynamics, their tryouts were on Saturday at the Park Shops at Houston Center. The day started at nine and went through four in the afternoon. The ladies went through registration, photos, individual routines, group routines, and were judged each step of the way.
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I've got to confess, I didn't think I would get bored with watching attractive women in tight clothing, but after a couple of hours of the same songs and same basic dance moves -- at least to me -- I got bored. Then again, I wasn't judging, so my opinion really didn't matter.
A group of 20 women were chosen for the squad, and a team captain, Megan (no last name), was also named. Megan, though a member of last year's squad, is still rather new to Houston, having lived here for just over a year, so she sees the squad as a way to get to know the city and the people who live here.
"I really want to have a strong team this year as far as a sisterhood," she said in her role as captain. "I want to make sure that we all get along and definitely, as a bunch of women in one place, it can get a little scary. But I think we're all mature and great dancers and we will be able to represent the team really well."
And to finish up, I also learned last week that the Aeros are in negotiations with 1070 and 1560 The Game for the radio rights for this upcoming season. That should hopefully get your attention because tomorrow you'll see my interview with 1560 program director Chance McClain about his station and the Houston sports radio market.