Friday Scorecard: A long, strange trip for the Admirals
Snow is in the forecast for the weekend so it's probably a good time to dig out the shovel and gas up the snowblower. And for those of you reading on your smartphone, waiting at the tow lot because of the city's Draconian winter parking rules, we move onto the notes...
Home sweet home: It had been awhile since the Milwaukee Admirals last played a game at the Bradley Center -- 10 games, to be exact. Of course, when you look at the calendar and realize that the team's Wednesday night meeting with Manitoba was the first home date since Nov. 7, things kind of fall into perspective.
Being on the road for three weeks can hurt a team from a marketing standpoint -- the Admirals Wednesday positioned their game as a "re-opener" -- but from a team-building standpoint, a ten-game trip can be very helpful.
"There's lots of good stuff that comes out of it," said head coach Lane Lambert. "The only thing that throws it out of whack is coming back home. You get distractions from outside influences. It's just different. You have to guard against that right off the bat and I think we've done a good job."
The Admirals performed well in their first game back, posting a 6-3 victory over Manitoba. Two of the goals came in the final minute. Forward Chris Mueller posted his second two-goal game of the season, adding an assist and is now tied with Andreas Thuresson for the team lead with 13 points.
"He's playing unbelievable," Lambert said. "He works hard. He's always been a kind of guy that's had to work from the bottom and work his way up. He's certainly working his way up."
The Admirals return to action tonight -- complete with a post-game concert by the Village People -- but will do so without No. 1 goaltender Mark Dekanich (10-3-1, 1.71 GAA), who was recalled by Nashville earlier Friday.
Return of Claude: Also back in the Bradley Center Wednesday night was former Admirals coach Claude Noel, now the head coach of the Moose.
Noel left Milwaukee following the 2006-2007 season with the highest winning percentage (.639) in franchise history, second in victories (183) and the only coach to lead the team to a championship (2004 Calder Cup), to join Ken Hitchcock's staff with Columbus of the National Hockey League.
When Hitchcock was fired last season, Noel took over and led the Blue Jackets to a 10-8-6 record over the final 24 games of the season. Noel was not retained when Scott Arniel was named head coach in Columbus and he landed back in the American Hockey League with Manitoba -- the Vancouver Canucks' affiliate.
Stating their case: Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema spent Thursday in Bristol, Conn., appearing on various ESPN programs to promote his 11-1 Badgers.
He kicked off the day with a spot on "First Take" and moved on to the "Scott Van Pelt Show" on ESPN Radio before visiting "SportsCenter," "College Football Live" and "The Beat" on ESPN News.
The trip wasn't to kill time before bowl practices start. Bielema wants his team on the national writers' minds, especially if No. 1 Auburn or No. 2 Oregon slip up this week.
"We wouldn't disappoint anybody," Bielema said on "First Take." "We've shown up. We love to play football."
The final Bowl Championship Series rankings come out Sunday night. Wisconsin is currently fifth and is trying to hold off fellow Big Ten co-champion Ohio State for a Rose Bowl berth.
Learning the ropes: With Brad Keselowski set to move into the Sprint Cup Miller Lite Dodge next season, the folks over Miller had the defending NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion in town this week for a crash course on all things Miller.
During his two-day stay in Milwaukee, Keselowski learned the history of the brewery and its place in the sports marketing world as well as the community.
"It's hard at times to draw a correlation between everything it takes to be a race car driver and why a sponsor is so important," Keselowski said. "Understanding brands is a large step in the evolution between a regular driver, a good driver and a great driver."
Keselowski, 26, knows that he's moving into a car steeped in tradition. Rusty Wallace raced under the Miller sponsorship from 1990 until giving way to Kurt Busch in 2005.
"That brand certainly exceeds more than one generation," Keselowski said. "It's one that has a history of excellence and performance."
The youngster is also aware of Miller Lite's history of sports stars serving as spokespeople.
"I'm no Bob Uecker," he said.
Tis the season: Get ready for goofiness next week when baseball's Winter Meetings convene in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (in other words, Disney World). Don't expect the Brewers to pull off any blockbuster deals, especially for first baseman Prince Fielder.
Most importantly, Fielder's value is inflated by the local view. Other GMs see things much, much differently and aren't likely to part with the amount and quality of pitching the Brewers need.
Adam Dunn's four-year, $56 million deal with the Chicago White Sox could help Doug Melvin's cause, but finding another first baseman on the free agent market shouldn't be too difficult making it entirely possible that Fielder opens 2011 with the Brewers.
One trade is already in the books. Friday, Melvin traded RHP Carlos Villanueva to Tornoto for a player to be named later. Not an uncommon type of transaction for this time of year.
Villanueva's trade is another sign that Melvin plans to stick with some younger, more inexpensive arms in the bullpen next season. Veteran right-hander Todd Coffey was not offered a contract for 2011 after struggling last season following an injury.
Guys like Jeremy Jeffress, Brandon Kintzler and Mike McClendon will likely find themselves in the bullpen next season.
Larry King Lounge: The Scorecard research department can't verify 100 percent, but still feels confident to say that up until last Saturday, no team's fans have ever rushed the field after defeating Northwestern in any sport ... Does anybody really understand how the bracketing of the CBE Classic works? ... The Brewcity Brusiers open their 2011 season on Jan. 8 at the U.S. Cellular Arena ... Menasha native Eric Hinske agreed to a one-year deal with an option for 2012 with the Braves. The Brewers had offered a similar deal ... Pregame introductions/events are getting way, way too long and National Anthem renditions are getting completely out of hand ... Nothing is funnier than the growing number of "fake" Twitter pages; you know, like "@Fake(insert name of athlete here). Really. And those who create those feeds are sheer comic geniuses ... Former University of Wisconsin Chancellor Donna Shalala has been named to the College Football Hall of Fame. Shalala might be best remembered here for hiring Barry Alvarez in 1989 ... Ryan Braun will participate in the Lake Geneva Holiday Parade tomorrow in, naturally, Lake Geneva ... Twitter went all up in arms Thursday when Qatar was annouced as the host of the 2022 World Cup -- beating out the United States. Here at Scorecard, we'll try and find a way to move on. It'll be hard, but together, we can get through this. ... Now, for a kind word about soccer: good luck to the No 5 UW-Oshkosh men's soccer team, in San Antonio this weekend playing for the NCAA Division III Final Four.
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