Joe Skeen. (Photo: Joe Skeen. All Rights Reserved.)

This season has been a wonderful mix of hockey and meeting new people who enjoy the sport. If you think hockey fans do not have superstitions, read Joe’s wonderful story about his Barons jersey. Please, Joe, don’t even touch that rascal the remainder of this season! 😉 Just stick to your Wheeling Nailers practice jersey and that Tulsa Oilers jersey. I am always pleasantly surprised at how many Wheeling Nailers jerseys I see in our arena – and I think we have Andrew Lord, a particular fan favorite here in OKC, to thank for that!

Meet Joe Skeen – OKC Barons Fan!

PT: How long have you been a hockey fan?

Joe: I’ve been interested in hockey since my high school days in Ripley, West Virginia. A group of investors tried a minor league club in Charleston but it didn’t last. But, from what I saw, it was a worthwhile effort for a sport not many in that area of Appalachia were familiar with.

PT: Who is your favorite NHL team and why?

Joe: Tough question. Edmonton, of course, holds a special place for me as they are the Barons parent club. I’ve been a Flyers fan for a while because it was the first team in person I saw play. And then there’s the Minnesota Wild just because I dig their cream and green third jersey.

PT: Who is your favorite NHL player(s) and why?

Joe: Scott Hartnell is incredible. He is fierce on the ice and plays all out every time he is on shift. But not just for that reason. His foundation Hartnell Down shows his humanitarian side while poking fun at himself. He donates money every time he goes down on the ice during games because he claims he isn’t the most graceful skater in the history of the NHL. Anybody that would do that is tops in my book.

PT: Do you have any hockey souvenirs? What are they?

Joe: Not many but the most prized is a puck signed by Andrew Lord that recently came into my home.

PT: What is your favorite hockey souvenir(s)? (Jersey, puck, etc.)

Joe: I’d like to claim my Barons away jersey but that thing is filled with so much bad luck I don’t wear it to games. Never have the Barons won at home while I’ve worn it so it stays in the closet. So the two jerseys I go to the most are a Wheeling Nailers practice jersey and a replica away jersey of the Tulsa Oilers.

PT: Were you a Blazers fan, prior to the Barons? And if so, how do you compare the Blazers with the AHL OKC Barons team?

Joe: I have no frame of reference with the Blazers as I’ve only lived in Oklahoma City for just about sixteen months now. I’d imagine, though, because the Barons are in the AHL, there may be a higher quality of play over CHL affiliated teams.

The OKC Barons Team (Players and Coaching staff):

PT: The OKC Barons are now two years old – did you have an opportunity to follow the team since the beginning?

Joe: Yes I have but in the first year I was still transitioning from West Virginia to Oklahoma so I didn’t have a chance to see many games. But watching from afar that first year it was great to see how quickly the Barons became a part of the community.

PT: How many games do you attend and/or watch on average? All? Most?  Explain.

Joe: I’ve only missed a few home games this year while being out of town and have watched many of the away games through the AHL website. This past weekend watched both of the away games as the Barons were getting closer to their championship.

PT: What is your opinion of the team and coaching this season, so far? 

Joe: Incredible. It seems to have the right mix of young guns and veterans that would make it necessary for the team to do well and the record certainly speaks to that. All of them, from the coaching staff right on down to the trainers and the guys who didn’t make the clear day roster all are very approachable. For example, I briefly saw Coach Rocky Thompson before the Hamilton game on April 3. I briefly said “Hi coach” and he just didn’t pass me by. He said “Hello. You ready for the game?” It is that kind of engaging spirit that goes a long way in endearing the fans to this team.

PT: Who are your favorite players and why?

Joe: The Captain is the one I am most anxious to see every game. A true veteran, humanitarian, good all around guy. Bryan Helmer would be the main guy on the team I’d love to sit down and have dinner with to discuss not only hockey but just life in general. And then there’s David LeNeveu. In his interviews he comes across as down to earth and sincere and almost a bit shy – which is ironic as he is a season hardened goal tender. And of course Andrew Lord. Although he never made it on the ice this year, he remains a fan favorite and one of mine because he is a product of the Wheeling Nailers where I saw him play.

PT: Which player were you most excited to see play this season?

Joe: Looked forward to seeing Hunter Tremblay on a nightly basis suit up and get after it. Nothing is more exciting during a penalty kill than the specter of a shorty and he has provided plenty of those this year.

PT: Who is your favorite new player this season (2011-2012)?

Joe: As with many Magnus Paajarvi. After the first game he was here and that incredibly deceptive shoot out goal I’ve wanted to see him more and more. Hoping as the playoffs progress he’ll be able to provide more offense aside from shoot outs.

PT: Who is your fan favorite this season and why?

Joe: I’d still have to go with the Captain. His Helmer’s Heroes are always a valuable part to the program every night at the rink.

PT: What would you change about the team itself, if anything?

Joe: You don’t mess with perfection and these guys are pretty close. If they could only get the power play monkey off their backs they’d be as complete a team as you could find.

PT: Who deserves a chance at breaking into the Oilers roster next season?

Joe: Although we’d hate to lose him, certainly Yann Danis deserves more NHL time. With the uncertainty of Nikolai Khabibulin’s tenure with the team, they are certainly going to need another quality goalie and Yann offers a tested hand. And not just those deserved of a roster shot, but also just a shot at the team as a hole. The Oilers have gotten high draft picks the last couple of years and haven’t been as successful as many experts believe they should be. Leads me to believe Tom Renney isn’t long for the bench and the Oilers would do well by themselves to get Coach Nelson into Rexall Place and let him have a go at it.

PT: Describe your best team/player/coach experience this season:

Joe: It was the holiday party at the casino. Coach Nelson was on the stage after having just spoken and I reached up to shake his hand, thank him for attending, and wished him and the team luck. He recognized me from an event just a few weeks before and that we had talked then. We stood for about five minutes just discussing matters of a general nature. I noticed he was wearing a championship ring. He took it off and showed it to me and explained it was from his Calder Cup in Chicago. He said he wore it to the party to show everyone what they should be shooting for. The man knows how to be a good motivator and he knows how to win. It was an inspiring time for sure.

Off-ice Fan Experiences – this includes inside the arena, outside events and social media:

PT: How is the off-ice experience for you as a fan this season? Pass or Fail and Why?

Joe: Oh a definite pass. When talking to anyone about the things being done off ice, I constantly remind myself this group is just in its second year and that patience is necessary. The Barons have been incredibly receptive of suggestions as to off-ice operations. It has gotten better and year three should be something to see.

PT: What has been your best off-ice experience this season and why?

Joe: The Blue Line Club. Haven’t had a bad meal in there yet. True the service was a bit shakey at first but we’ve made ample note of it and expressed concerns and the Barons have worked to ensure the experience in there has gotten better – and it has.

PT: What has been your worst off-ice experience this season and why?

Joe: A harkening back to the days of old. Being a fan of history I do embrace tradition but tradition for traditions sake, in most instances, tends to hurt progress. Would like to see the Barons re-evaluate the use of the in-rink announcers and if they are doing a good job for the Barons brand.

PT: What would you like to change about the off-ice experience for next season?

Joe: More food and drink specials. On those nights when there have been discounted drink and food specials, there is an obvious increase in attendance numbers. The more people that can be driven through the door, the more of an opportunity the sales staff will have in attracting full or partial season ticket holders. So I’d certainly like to see the Barons work closely with Cox management to see this happen.

PT: As a fan, what is your opinion of the social media aspect (Twitter, Facebook, Website)? Pass or Fail and Why?

Joe: I think it could use some work. But, again, second season and still trying to put all the pieces together. Once they do they’ll be able to do more things like other teams in the league. More Twitter and Facebook contests that just randomly appear to draw more interest to the club. Would be a good thing in the end.

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