The AHL and Me: Unbearable Feeds and Rewarding Feats

Damn this American Hockey League. I swear, what an outfit.

I’ve bitched and whined about the AHL before, both here and here.

I sang her praises here, then more bitching and whining here and again here.

This latest complaint is not new. It has to do with the quality of the streaming broadcasts of AHL games at AHLLive. Let me quote myself from something I wrote in March of 2012 for Inside Hockey:

The feed is so awful they added ‘live’ to the name to remind viewers they were in fact witnessing a biological event.  You never know what you’re going to get game to game. Some look like paranormal broadcasts. Others like the Zapruder film. You need to be a conspiracy theorist to pick out the action.

Behold, Tuesday night’s game from Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City featuring the Barons and the Texas Stars. This is actually a clip shot by me of my computer screen of the game. Forget that it’s crooked, that’s my problem. It runs for two minutes. I don’t recommend watching it all. The clip is slightly out of focus; this is not the AHL, rather it’s the camera I’m using. The volume is very low; this is the AHL. It must be, as all my volume levels were at the maximum. If the clip appears to stop, don’t panic, it’s not actually stopping:

YouTube player

The company the AHL has hired to hand-crank the streaming generator is none other than NeuLion. Yes, the same NeuLion that gives the NHL Gamecenter and which by comparison looks like something they might have watched on The Jetsons. I visited NeuLion’s web site and was horrified to find that the AHL’s Gary Bettman equivalent, David Andrews, actually gives the company a plug:

AHL NueLion quote

I agree, it is indeed a tremendous opportunity. And it’s not clear why they aren’t taking it.

It’s things like this that just infuriate me about the AHL.

Yet two nights later, I was given a pair of dynamite reminders of why I love the AHL. There was this game-winning shoot-out goal by a player who matured here in Austin last season:

And this game-winning goal by another player who matured here last season, whose maturity was on mind-boggling display and in my own mind set a standard  for how a player can turn his season around:

Alex Chiasson and Reilly Smith came to Austin with plenty of hype. It took both players time and effort to get better, and they no doubt benefited from the lockout, each in his own way. Chiasson has understandably become a fan favorite in Dallas; and while some wish Reilly Smith were still with the organization, if you’re a fan of the guy you have to be happy for him: He went from a borderline third line guy in camp that almost nobody in Boston paid attention to, to a player who just knocked Brad Marchand off the second line and is, for the time being at least, playing with Loui Ericksson and Patrice Bergeron.

These are not necessarily among the ‘rewards’ of following the AHL, but they definitely feel rewarding.