Evansville IceMen coach Rich Kromm reflected on what went wrong this season and what the future looks like:
Talk about what you learned from this past season, what went wrong and what needs to be fixed before next season?
RICH KROMM: I think the big thing was the lockout. It was unusual. In a normal year, you obviously want to understand what you are going to get from your affiliates as far as the amount of players and what kind of players you are going to get from them.
I think the important thing, no matter what, is to make sure you have a strong core of your own guys who can carry the load when you need them to do that regardless of what happens with your affiliates.
For us, we should have had that, but the injuries that we had, particularly Matt Gens, Phil Plante when they got them really hurt our back end. Those (injuries) left us thin in the back for most of the season because we didn’t have a lot of players being assigned to us from either affiliate at that position.
The only one we had was (Anton) Blomqvist, and he was hurt quite a bit of the time as well.
I think that’s going to be very important. And obviously, staying healthy is important.
It’s been an unusual year with lengthy injuries to key players.
Is it possible to have more stability with affiliate agreements so there isn’t as much player turnover as you had this season? That had to make it tough to develop any cohesiveness.
RICH KROMM: It can go that way or you can get really lucky and get a benefit having those affiliated guys for maybe an extended period of time.
We didn’t have as much interaction with Springfield as we did with Peoria. Peoria had a lot of forwards that we’d get two for a week and then they’d go and they’d send us another couple. So it was a lot of turnover from St. Louis through Peoria.
So with the NHL labor situation settled, do you anticipate next season being a little smoother in terms of hanging on to players you get from Triple A teams?
RICH KROMM: I think you would probably have more consistency with that than we did this year. Unless there are a lot of injuries that last a long time then you are going to get depleted.
Like Cincinnati, they had most of their guys all year long and it got to the point for them at the end of the year when they had to submit their playoff roster they had to leave some very good players off the roster because they had so much depth going into the playoffs.
They had a fairly consistent group of guys there all year.
The biggest factor for us in terms of winning games and competing was the injuries to our core guys who were hurt for as long as they were.
How many players do you expect back next season from this year’s team?
RICH KROMM: Probably a handful. I have to sit down and really evaluate and discuss a few things with (owner) Ron Geary. I was really happy with the way some young guys stepped up at the end.
(Daniel) Tetrault really became a stronger leader on and off the ice. He’s been called up to Peoria to play there now, but he’s a guy that really stepped up. Jason Dale had a great year all year from a competitive standpoint. He really stepped up his role.
Jake Obermeyer stepped up as storong leader
At the end of the day we were playing pretty good hockey.
Some of the young players we brought in really helped us. They only played a handful of games but some of those guys were pretty impressive, like (Chris) Forfar and (Peter) Sakaris.
You released Todd Robinson so he could return to the CHL for the playoffs. Is he gone for good?
RICH KROMM: We maintain his rights. We suspended him when he left because you have to do that to maintain a player’s rights in the league. We have his rights if he decides he wants to play. We’ll talk about it.
Worst case, we still have his rights if he wants to play in the league. His wife has just got a pretty good job in Muskeegon (Mich.)and he may want to stay closer to there.