Welcome to Florida / Vaive returns / Pedan plays / roadgeek Wednesday notes

On Saturday, Bridgeport will play a Florida affiliate for the first time since Feb. 18, 2003, a 2-0 win here over the San Antonio Rampage. Steve Valiquette made 35 saves; Eric Manlow had an assist on a Mattias Weinhandl goal and added an empty-netter. (It was also, unfortunately, Dave Morisset’s last AHL game; shoulder injury.)

It’s easier to think about the last time Bridgeport saw certain franchises — Springfield’s always been nearby (and thanks, Bruce Landon), even those years when you can’t remember who their parent club is anymore — but the affiliation-go-round, the stubborn success of some other affiliations, the occasional franchise movement (with surges like this past summer), the absolute lack of Bridgeport play against the Rumored Conference: They’ve combined to leave some gaps in Islanders prospects’ histories against some other teams’ prospects. (In other words, if it feels as if you’ve missed a generation of Nashville Predators, there’s a reason for that.)

So I put the list together, what the heck.

When Bridgeport last played the affiliate of:

2001-02: Nashville (Milwaukee, 3/3/02), Detroit (Cincinnati partial*, 3/13/02)
2002-03: Toronto (St. John’s Maple Leafs), Florida (San Antonio – Portland comes in Saturday)
2003-04: Dallas (Utah)
2004-05: St. Louis (Worcester IceCats)
2006-07: Colorado (Albany River Rats partial**), Chicago (Norfolk)
2008-09: Minnesota (Houston)
2009-10: Calgary (Abbotsford), Edmonton (Springfield)
2010-11: Carolina (Charlotte)
Last year: Winnipeg (St. John’s), Anaheim (Norfolk), Philadelphia (Lehigh Valley – Bridgeport will visit the Phantoms on Boxing Day), Ottawa (Binghamton), Columbus (Springfield), San Jose (Worcester Sharks), Los Angeles (Manchester)
So far this year: Pittsburgh (WBS), Montreal (St. John’s***), Boston (Providence), Washington (Hershey), Buffalo (Rochester****), Vancouver (Utica), Phoenix (Springfield), New Jersey (Albany), NYRangers (Hartford), Tampa Bay (Syracuse)

*-Detroit took over in Grand Rapids, which had been Ottawa’s affiliate before Binghamton rejoined the league, the next year. Bridgeport has never played Grand Rapids. And so it goes.
**-Colorado had a few years in the wilderness, including a partial in Lowell in 2005-06. The last time Bridgeport faced the Avs’ prospects as the primary affiliate was Hershey in 2004-05.
***-Last time before that: 2002-03, Hamilton split affiliation
****-Last time before this year: 2010-11, Portland. In the meantime, Rochester had been affiliated with… Florida.

So if you counted up 29 teams, yep: The only NHL team whose prospects have never visited Bridgeport are the ones who play their home games here.

That’s still better than counting franchises: 17 teams don’t come in this year, and of those, only six have ever been here (though five of the other 12 are California teams that just began this season). Chicago and Grand Rapids have both been in the league as long as Bridgeport, and the only reason we’ve seen the Wolves is because they both made it to the same June that one time 13 and a half years ago. Milwaukee hasn’t been back since that year. Lake Erie, Rockford, Texas: Longtime franchises, never played Bridgeport. The Marlies, in their 11th season, now in the same conference: Nope.

I understand, but at the same time, I don’t understand.


Justin Vaive returned to practice today, though skating as a fourth on the fourth line. Things were otherwise as we left them Monday, including Connor Jones in Vaive’s late-Sunday spot with Ben Holmstrom and Justin Florek. These seem to have stuck, though Vaive could slide back into that spot by Friday.

Star Wars Night on Saturday. Anyone else think that George Lucas, well-known fan of the old serials, is kinda surreptitiously bringing them back with all these new trailers and commercials? We’ll have seen the whole thing by the time it comes out.

Six shifts, 3:54: Andrey Pedan’s an NHLer.

Rangers-Islanders tonight in Brooklyn. Tanner Glass gets the call to the Rangers.

Edit like two seconds after I hit publish: Toronto sent Jonathan Bernier to the Marlies for conditioning.

Went all the way to Killingly last night for football. Many thanks to the folks there for their hospitality and, most importantly last night, shelter. Roadgeekery on the way there: Figured from two sets of directions that said two different things, but I-395 now has milepost exit numbering (that is, the exit for Killingly High used to be 93, and now is 41, 41 miles from the start of the highway); it used to continue I-95’s exit numbers, as it had been part of the Connecticut Turnpike. That’s the other roadgeeky part: I got off 395 on the Plainfield-Killingly border to take the little spur at the end of the Connecticut Turnpike. So I’ve now driven the whole length of the old turnpike. Yeah. Things to be proud of, I know. (So yes, I did actually drive to Rhode Island for a CIAC football game. It did cross my mind to go to Providence for dinner.)

Congrats to local high school admin Joe Tonelli.

And RIP, Sandy Berger.

Michael Fornabaio