The Chicago Wolves have spent their offseason adjusting to American Hockey League rule changes and blending Wolves veterans with fresh faces who’ll wear the burgundy and gold for the first time.
Twelve-year color analyst Bill Gardner was kind enough to fit us in during his golf season and give ChicagoWolves.com his input on what he looks forward to seeing from the press box.
Many people around the league have expressed their relief that the AHL has moved to a longer overtime and eventually 3-on-3 play. What is your take as the color analyst?
I love what they are doing. I think it has been long overdue. But I don’t understand why they don’t just make it 3-on-3 right away. They want someone to win, so throw everything else out the window and let them play pond hockey.
Have you ever seen a 3-on-3 in overtime?
About seven years ago in Milwaukee, I was on the call with Pat Foley. There ended up being a couple penalties and turned into 3-on-3. It was the most fun I have ever had calling a game. The call Pat made to end the game was so exciting.
What do you expect head coach John Anderson’s strategy to be in overtime?
Johnny has always been a little different. You can’t ever be sure. But I would say you should probably have one defenseman that can handle the puck and from there, a playmaker and a goal scorer.
What do you make of the new faces we’ll see in Wolves uniforms?
We’ve needed some depth at center and you can never have enough guys. Mathieu Brodeur is a huge guy and what I like to call a defensive defenseman. I like that. Goaltender Jordan Binnington is not a very big guy, but played well in the one game we saw him last year.
What needs to happen on the defensive end to help out whoever ends up being between the pipes?
It was a funny team last year. We had great goaltending and it was funny that our goalie had to stand on his head to win games. But we need to be more stable on defense, and I think the return of Jani Hakanpaa, David Shields and Joel Edmundson should help with that. Matt Climie needs to be a rock again in whatever role he plays, and he would be the first to tell you it was tough last year coming off injury.