Stanley Cup yields benefits for Monarchs
MANCHESTER -- A high tide, according to the adage, raises all boats. Well, the tide certainly came in on the West Coast this past summer, bringing with it a Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles Kings.
And, it seems, that tide is lifting the fortunes of the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings' American Hockey League affiliate all the way on the other coast - or at least on the banks of the Merrimack River.
Monarchs team president Darren Abbott said interest in the team is tangible in the number of tickets sold heading into Friday's season opener at Providence, and he credits that to the success of the Kings.
'It's kept hockey in everyone's minds well into the summer, and that's helped us,' Abbott said. 'We're off to a great start.'
Abbott said the team was swept up in a similar tide two years ago after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, with season ticket sales for the Monarchs jumping 7 to 10 percent. Abbott thinks having the team's own parent club - 14 former Monarchs played for the Kings last year - win the Stanley Cup will bump those sales another 10 percent this season.
'We had a great summer in terms of selling tickets,' Abbott said. 'We were way up.'
Abbott said he believes having the Kings win the Stanley Cup is an affirmation to Monarchs fans that the product they are seeing on the ice is a quality one.
'It served as an opportunity to show what we're here for,' Abbott said.
The team has even more substantial evidence; the players on their roster who were part of that Stanley Cup celebration. Three current Monarchs - Andrei Loktionov, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov - played for the Kings during the playoffs, and all had a chance to make the big club before the lockout by league owners at least delayed the start of the NHL season. Now, they are all back in Manchester.
'You're going to obviously benefit by going against better players,' Monarchs coach Mark Morris said. 'I think it's probably a more realistic view of what the next level is like when you've got other players that have had an opportunity to experience NHL life and style of play and the hockey smarts they have up the next rung of the ladder.'
Morris said another benefit of the lockout for the Monarchs is having the Kings send their player personnel people to Manchester. Kings assistant coach John Stevens and goaltending coach Bill Ranford already have worked with the Monarchs.
'I think that goes a long way with our players to let them know the continuity between the Kings and the Monarchs,' Morris said.
Nolan said he is happy to share his Stanley Cup memories if asked, but he doesn't plan to talk too much about it.
'I'm not the most vocal guy in the dressing room. I'm pretty quiet,' Nolan said. 'In practice, I obviously want to do the right things, I just want to work hard and show the young guys what it takes to be there at the next level. I'll just go out there and play my hardest and do the right things in practice and hope the guys will follow.'
For this season - or at least until the lockout ends - that means helping Manchester win the Calder Cup as AHL champion.