Offseason Update: Badgers Try Hand at Fashion Design

Hockey and high fashion don’t typically mix.  But when your team is owned by a fashion designer, which the Boston BadgersPaul Galette is, such an unusual scenario can become reality.

The Badgers just finished their most successful season ever, posting a .500 record for the first time.  It was a feel-good season for the team, and the players expressed a desire to get back together during the offseason.  Galette accommodated that desire with an unorthodox offer: he invited his players to spend a day at his fashion house, including an opportunity to design their own outfits.

“It’s definitely not a typical hockey-player activity,” said Galette.  “But I knew it would be a fun creative opportunity for them, and something that they don’t get to do every day.  So why not?”

Almost all of the Badgers showed up.  Some of them came because they wanted another chance to hang out with their teammates.  Some were genuinely interested in seeing how fashion houses work.  Others… well, in the words of RW Levi Rudyard: “I figured I’d have a chance to meet some models.”

When the players arrived, Galette took them on a brief tour of the house and introduced them to some of his fellow designers.  “It was pretty cool to meet them, really,” said LW Pascal Royal.  “They are in some ways like us.  Everyone thinks we just get to have fun all the time, but there is a lot of work into it.  Designing is the same.”

After that, the owner brought the players into a “collaboration space,” a room that allows designers to work together and bounce ideas off of one another.  The players gathered around a large table in the center of the room, where they were given paper and a variety of art supplies and invited to design their own outfits.

“I told them they could be as practical or as whimsical as they wanted to be,” Galette said.  “Designers can get their inspiration from anywhere: natural scenes, animals, things they see on the street.  There are no rules and no bad ideas.  Even something completely crazy or unworkable can light a spark that leads to a beautiful design in the end.”

The design session was a bit awkward at first because, as D Matt Cherner noted, “I haven’t done any drawing since I was in grade school.”  But eventually they warmed to the task, and they came up with a number of fascinating designs.  LW Casey Thurman drew an evening gown inspired by a peacock’s feathers.  Cherner designed a suit that resembled the Northern Lights.  G Roger Orion sketched out a tuxedo that featured the Badgers’ colors and logo.  D Brody “Bruiser” McCallan, meanwhile, designed a truly wild outfit which he described as “the world’s only pimp superhero.  Like Superfly, but even flyer.”

Little did the players know it, but Galette had another surprise in store for them.  After treating the team to a lavish lunch at a nearby restaurant, Galette announced that he would have their designs made into actual outfits.  And a couple weeks later, he invited them back to see those outfits on display, as he held a fashion show that the team streamed on YouTube.

“I knew they’d go gaga to see their designs brought to life,” Galette said.  “It’s an awesome feeling for any designer, the first time they see their designs in real life.”

The players reacted with laughter and delight as they saw their designs paraded up and down the runway.  And in additional to actual models, several of the players themselves took a turn on the catwalk.  Orion modeled his Badgers-colored tuxedo, saying “I wish I’d had this for my wedding, although my wife is probably glad I didn’t.”  Thurman modeled Cherner’s Northern Lights suit, and trilled “I Feel Pretty” in falsetto as he walked.  McCallan, meanwhile, not only donned his pimp-superhero costume, he also closed out the show by squeezing into Thurman’s peacock-feather dress.  As the burly blueliner sashayed along, his teammates laughed and catcalled.

“Yeah, they made fun,” said McCallan, “but only because they didn’t want to admit that I totally rocked the dress.”

All in all, it was a fun team-building event, and the players thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  “If you’d told me I was going to love designing fashion outfits, I’d have called you crazy,” said C Alain Beauchesne.  “But these were memories I will keep for all my life.  Except for the Bruiser in that dress… that I hope to forget.”

2020 SHL Week 6 Transactions

  • On Sunday, the New York Night announced that D Ed Francis, who had been playing for their minor-league affiliate in Utah, will miss the rest of the season.  The 30-year-old Francis suffered a severely broken leg during last Saturday’s game against Minnesota, an injury so severe that it required surgery to reconstruct the leg.  In the wake of the injury, Francis announced that he would retire from hockey. (Story here.)  To replace Francis on the roster, the Night signed D Gustaf Bergstrom for the rest of the season.  Bergstrom recently played a 10-game stint in Halifax, where he recorded a goal and six assists.
  • On Friday, the Washington Galaxy traded LW Casey Thurman to the Boston Badgers in exchange for LW Marty “Fish” Pescatelli, D Kermit Kaufman, and a first-round draft pick.  (Story here.)  In related moves, Boston demoted LW Norris Young to their CHL affiliate in Hartford and promoted D Jackson Creed from Hartford.  They also signed D Gerry Michaud to a minor-league deal.
  • On Friday, the Night demoted G Sherman Carter to their CHL affiliate in Utah and promoted G Corey Franklin-Lee from Utah.  Carter, expected to be New York’s top starter in the next, has been atrocious so far this season.  Despite compiling a 5-5-1 record, he has put up a 5.75 GAA and an .861 save percentage.  The 20-year-old Franklin-Lee makes his first appearance on an SHL roster; with Utah this season, he has gone 9-4-2 with a 2.82 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
  • On Saturday, the Quebec Tigres placed D Kevin Buchanan on the injured list.  The veteran blueliner has been plagued by injuries this season; he missed 10 games with an upper-body injury earlier this season.  It is unknown whether this latest setback, suffered in the second period of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Hershey, is an aggravation of his prior injury or a new one.  To replace Buchanan on the roster, Quebec recalled D Hampus Olsson from their CHL affiliate in Halifax.  Olsson was sent down two weeks ago when Buchanan returned from his prior IL stint; he spent 9 games in the minors, recording 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists).  To fill Olsson’s roster spot in Halifax, the Tigres signed veteran D Igor Shovshenkov.

Badgers Pull Off Blockbuster, Acquire Thurman from DC

When LW Casey Thurman publicly lamented the direction of the Washington Galaxy franchise in a postgame interview a couple weeks back, it seemed like the star winger’s days with the only SHL team he’d ever played for were numbered.  Thurman’s time in the nation’s capital came to an end on Friday, as the Boston Badgers – desperate to spark their flailing offense and climb into contention in the East – acquired him in exchange for a pair of prospects and their first-round pick in the draft.

“I don’t really have words for it, to be honest,” said Thurman.  “And you know how much I love talking, so that’s saying something.  I thought I was going to be here for my whole career.  But I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Once word got out about Thurman’s dissatisfaction with the Galaxy, GM Wilson Shuster found himself flooded with offers from other teams.  But Boston was one of the only teams that could fit Thurman’s $4 million salary under the cap without sending salary in return, which reportedly appealed to Galaxy owner Perry Dodge.

Casey Thurman

In Thurman, the Badgers acquire one of the league’s biggest stars and biggest characters.  The 31-year-old went to the SHL Finals twice with Washington, in 2015 and 2016.  He’s often among the league’s top scorers, and he holds his own on the defensive end as well.  Although he was not producing at his usual offensive pace this season, Thurman was second on the Galaxy in points with 21 (7 goals, 14 assists) at the time of the trade.

“It’s rare to find a player of Casey’s caliber available in midseason,” said Badgers GM Jody Melchiorre.  “And when he became available, we went after him aggressively, because he fits the perfect mold of the player we look for.  He’s a star who can generate a ton of offense, but he thinks like a grinder.  He plays hard the whole 200 feet, and he’s going to be a great leader and mentor for our younger guys.”

Marty Pescatelli

To acquire Thurman, the Badgers had to let go of a pair of prized young players.  One of them, LW Marty “Fish” Pescatelli, returns to the team that first drafted him.  Pescatelli was an 18-year-old rookie when the Galaxy shipped him up to Boston in a deal for LW Charlie Brooks and D Scott Hexton.  He blossomed in the Badgers’ system, and was named to the CHL All-Star Game last season.  The 20-year-old has struggled to stay healthy this season, but he’s produced when he’s played, with 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) in 13 games.

“We’re really excited to get Fish back in our organization,” said Shuster.  “He’s quick-wristed with a cannon for a shot, and we think that he can grow into the kind of brilliant two-way scorer that Thurm has been for us.”

Kermit Kaufman

In addition to Pescatelli, the Galaxy also acquired 22-year-old defenseman Kermit Kaufman.  Kaufman is a rugged stay-home defenseman who knows how to sacrifice his body to disrupt opponents’ offensive flow.  In 23 games with Boston this season, he recorded no goals and 2 assists, but he had 38 blocks, the third-highest total on the team.

“Kermit has really grown into an elite defenseman,” said Shuster.  “He’s got a body like a battering ram; some of our guys have found that out the hard way, when he’s thrown some rough checks at us.  We’re building a hard-hitting young defensive corps, and Kermit’s going to fit right in there.”

There’s no question that adding Thurman will boost Boston’s lackluster attack.  But will that be enough?  At the time of the deal, Boston was tied with Washington for the league’s worst record at 7-14-2, and they were last in the league in goals scored with 54.  If Thurman can recover his traditional scoring touch in Badgers green, he should provide a boost.  But other players will need to step up as well, most notably goalie Roger Orion and the team’s league-worst penalty-killing unit.

Of course, Melchiorre might not be done dealing.  “We’ve still got plenty of cap room to play with, and if we see a chance to improve, I’m not going to hesitate,” the Badgers GM said.  “We’re not waiting around.”

Thurman Knocks DC Crowd, Says He’s Willing to Be Dealt

If there’s a player who’s been the face of the Washington Galaxy, it’s LW Casey Thurman.  From the early days of the franchise, Thurman has been a leader in the clubhouse, whether talking to reporters after tough losses or teaming up with teammates to imitate Hershey’s singing cows.  When Washington went to back-to-back SHL Finals, it was Thurman who led them there.  He balances a love of locker-room lunacy with a commitment to playing hard and giving it his all, no matter what the scoreboard or the standings say.

Casey Thurman

It’s almost impossible to imagine a Galaxy team without Thurman on it.  But it became easier to imagine this week, when Thurman sounded a rare downbeat note in a postgame interview and suggested for the first time that he might be open to a trade.

Thurman spoke to reporters after Thursday’s 7-1 loss to the Hershey Bliss.  After the typical back-and-forth about the game, a reporter asked about the sparse attendance at the game.  As the Galaxy’s on-ice results have declined the last couple of seasons, so too has turnout.

Thurman paused a bit before responding.  “I’ve got to say, I miss the atmosphere in the old days,” he said.  “When the house was packed and the fans were living and dying with every goal, it gave you that extra boost when you needed it.  Now, the crowds are smaller and quieter.  They get going when “Cosmic Thing” comes on, but then the song ends and it’s quiet again.

“Don’t get me wrong,” the winger added.  “Our crowds are very nice.  They don’t boo us, even when we deserve it.  They don’t yell obscene chants at the other team, and they don’t fight in the stands.  They’re good people, and I’m glad they come.  But I miss the energy from the old days a little bit.”

Another reporter asked about trade rumors.  Thurman has a no-trade clause in his contract, but GM Wilson Shuster has made clear that the team is in rebuilding mode, and no player is untouchable.  Multiple teams have reportedly inquired about Thurman, who is signed through the 2022 season.

Thurman stated that Shuster had not approached him about any possible deals, and that he wasn’t in a hurry to leave.  “This is my home,” said Thurman.  “My family’s here.  We’ve got a good young team, and I love being a mentor to those guys and helping them develop their game.”

Then, after a pause, he went on: “On the other hand, I definitely know I’m an old man in this locker room.  Most of my old friends are gone: Coz [C Eddie Costello] is gone, and Bucky [D Kevin Buchanan, and [F] Gene [Kennedy], and Big O [G Roger Orion], and Lenny [D Leonard Wright], they’re all gone.  And I still don’t have a ring.  So if the right situation came along, where I could get that ring?  I’d have to consider it.”

Thurman was then asked if there were specific teams he’d like to go to, at which point he ended the interview.  But his remarks triggered speculation around the league.

Shuster said that the team was in no hurry to trade Thurman.  “Obviously, Thurm has been the heart and soul of this team for a long time,” Shuster told reporters.  “It would take a big return for us to move him.  That said, he would be a valuable piece for a lot of contenders, and we’re looking long-term.”

Thurman tried to walk back his remarks the next day, saying that he’d “had a bad day” and was “feeling bummed out” by the loss.  But any contender with the interest and the cap space to acquire Thurman will likely be calling Shuster in the coming days.  Depending on how those talks turn out, we may have to get used to the idea of the face of the Galaxy suiting up for someone else.