Interview with Lifetime Member Carol Hutchins

Home Town: Rochester, NY

First Amerks Game: about 46 years ago

Home Games Missed Since: perhaps around 80

Q-Any unusual way you got involved in the Booster Club?

I’ve always been interested in sports. I participated in various sports when I was in school. After graduating from college, I became interested in observing different local sports teams. When I came to my first Rochester Americans hockey game, I fell in love with this sport and it only seemed natural to join the Booster Club when it was formed.

Q-It’s been 14 years now since we’ve won a Calder Cup. Does it feel that long?

It does feel like a long time. I think it’s wonderful when the team wins but I’m happy when I’m following a team that’s making an effort. When our players are out on the ice giving 100% effort, win or lose, I leave the game satisfied.

Q-Why haven’t we been winning?

I feel it started with Buffalo when they decided not to put veteran players here. Whatever the issue they had with Steve Donner, and I realize it was a big problem, they should have been more concerned about developing their players here. Personal problems should not have taken precedence over personnel problems. When Florida took over, initially, the lack of veteran players continued.

Q-Are you happy that we ditched Buffalo, then?

I was happy at the time because of their actions. They didn’t appear interested in promoting hockey in Rochester. They brought Florida in as a co-affiliate. I get very disturbed with some of the local fans who say they won’t come to the Amerks games because we’re not with Buffalo anymore. We’re not Buffalo and we should be supporting our local teams. I remember when Buffalo was in the AHL and we strongly rooted against them.

Q-Your favorite players over the years?

I’m a big Don Cherry fan. Loved him both as a player and a coach for what he brought to the game. I absolutely loved Battleship Kelly. He only played for us for a year but really impressed me. No one messed with Kelly. My dog is named after him, as a matter of fact. Other past favorites are Rod Graham, Bronco Horvath, Geordie Robertson, Jody Gage and Jimmy Jackson. More recent players would be Marty Biron and Paul Gaustad. All of these players brought some kind of skill and personality to the game. I really like any player who is out there giving 100

Q-So new year now.. new hope, is that the way you look at it?

Yes, that’s the way I feel. Let’s give them a chance to prove themselves. However, this is what I miss: franchise players. We used to have players stay with us for several years. These veterans could pass on skills and the legacy of being a Rochester American. Fans came to identify with them, became friends with them, invited them to their homes, made them feel a real part of the city. We have so much respect for Chris Taylor because we feel we know him. Now, the players come in for a year or two and they’re gone. If they go to the NHL, that’s fine but often they are released or through free agency, they sign with another team. We lost several of our better players from last year’s team in this manner.

Q-Time to leave our affiliation with Florida?

First of all, I think we have to wait and see what happens this year. Florida has new management and what appears to be a more positive attitude in terms of trying to help the Amerks, realizing they need a building block here in order to build a winning team in Florida. Should Rochester leave Florida? It would depend upon what other NHL teams are available. Is there a better team for us out there?

Q-Have you hated any teams or player?

I have in the past. When there were fewer teams you would see them come here to play more often thereby allowing more familiarity with the other teams and their players. I would dislike the intimidators on the opposing teams. There used to be a team called the Quebec Aces and whenever they came to town there would be large crowds because everyone knew there would be fireworks that night. We loved to hate them. Recently I can only think of a Syracuse player whom I hated to see play against us.

Q-Do you have a top Amerks thrill?

Probably the year we flew to Quebec for the Calder Cup playoffs. The Booster Club was given a last-minute opportunity to fly up there on the plane the team usually flew in because they were taking a commercial flight. Although not a flyer, I was excited to go. However, when we arrived at the airport we were taken to this old rattletrap of an airplane. I was laughing and praying the whole way because I was so frightened. We wondered how the team made it any place in this plane. It was a great game which we won and then had to fly back in the same plane. We arrived back after the team and missed the reception the fans gave them at the airport. I’ve been fortunate in the past to have been able to travel to several different cities to see my Amerks play exciting playoff games.

Q-You’re a thick-and-thin fan, not going anywhere…

Right, I love hockey. So as long as the Rochester Americans are playing, I plan to be here to support them. When I miss a game it’s because I’m very ill or I’m visiting my sister and/or brother who live in Florida. Even then, I plan my trip based on the hockey schedule so I miss the fewest games possible.

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