Yesterday the 2010-11 season of Hershey Bears hockey kicked off as training camp started up. There aren't a ton of bodies in camp yet as many of the players remain in Washington.
The biggest story moving forward is the 3rd line center battle in Washington. The outcome will directly affect the Bears so it deserves some attention.
So far all 3 candidates (Eakin, Johansson, Perreault) have looked very good. They have scored goals, recorded assists, and have fit in each place they have played. It is still anyone's guess to who will win the job to start the season. And I have a guess too or maybe more of a theory.
Assuming Fleischmann starts at 2nd line center (which appears likely) there is only 1 spot open in the starting lineup. There is also room for one extra player on the roster that last week I thought would go to Hendricks or Andrew Gordon but now there are rumors that it could be one of the centers.
I don't see it happening. If it did though it would likely be Cody Eakin...at least for a few games. I believe the Caps would have 10 games to see what they have in Eakin and still send him back to juniors for the year...I think. If that is the case I could see them giving him a few games. If it works out and he shines then he stays on the NHL roster this year. If not, then they send him back.
But I don't see them risking Hendricks and/or Gordon on waivers just to keep Eakin for a few games.
I still think MoJo will be the #3 center on opening night and Perry will be back in Hershey to start the season.
As for the Gordon/Hendricks battle...now that Hendricks officially has a contract (a one year 2 way deal) this is actually a position battle...I think Gordon is still likely to get it. And the main reason is waivers. The chances are better that a team takes a shot at Gordo instead of Hendricks and that is not something the Caps are going to take a chance on...at least I don't think so.
The Hershey roster could look drastically different come opening night. If Gordo does make the Caps two thirds of the top line from last season would not be in Hershey this year.
But fear not Bears fans as this won't be a repeat of 07-08 either. In 07-08 Hershey was coming off a 2nd consecutive Finals appearance and the roster that year featured many young unproven players like Gordon, Joudrey and Wilson. The main 'veteran' leadership and 'star' role (and I use those terms VERY LOOSELY here) was Joe Motzko. Oh and the million dollar man Ben Clymer was also there.
Willsie, Hendricks (assuming the above happens), Greentree, and all the returning Bears (Pinner, Coiner, Bouch, and others) and young new Bears (Kugryshev, Hauswirth, Gustafsson, Kashirsky) will still make this a very good year.
The talent level in Hershey will still be very high and as long as the goaltending holds up we could be watching live hockey at the Giant Center well into spring again in 2011!
Hershey released their 3rd or alternate jerseys this past week. Some of you might have already seen 'leaks' of these jersey's online but they were officially unveiled earlier this week...
While it isn't the 'traditional' skating bear logo that we all love it is closer. Definitely expect to see some of these in the GC this season. And it could be as early as this weekend...if you are a season ticket holder headed down for the ticket night festivities tomorrow night these jersey's WILL be on sale.