ST. JOHN’S – It was one year ago this week that the St. John’s IceCaps were born. On Friday, June 10, 2011, President and CEO Danny Williams and COO Glenn Stanford made the announcement that the American Hockey League was returning to St. John’s. They were joined by Winnipeg Jets assistant General Manager Craig Heisinger, AHL President Dave Andrews and St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe.
In the 52 weeks since that announcement, in front of hundreds of fans inside Mile One Centre, the St. John’s IceCaps have done more than anticipated. The AHL’s newest franchise reached the conference final in its inaugural season, sold out all 46 of its home games, became part of the province through player appearances and other community efforts, contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities and brought hockey excitement back to St. John’s.
“It is hard to believe that it has been one year since we announced the return of professional hockey to the province,” said Mr. Williams. “We worked under tremendously tight timelines as we brought the IceCaps from conception to that first game at Mile One. But thanks to an outstanding team behind the scenes, incredible fans and corporate partners, our first year proved to be an enormous success.
“And of course, a huge part of that success was due to the players themselves and our coaches who gave 110 per cent. I could not be more thrilled with our first season. We look forward to even bigger and better things in year two.”
For COO Stanford, the anniversary of the announcement brings a time to reflect on the hectic pace of the past year, and the work required to make the AHL team operational.
“We faced a daunting task in getting the IceCaps ready for the season and the home opener,” Mr. Stanford said. “There was nobody in place on June 10, and we had to do everything – sell tickets, find corporate partners, essentially build an entire organization in less than four months. Fortunately, I was able to surround myself with an extremely competent staff to help make the workload possible.
“The entire staff punched long hours to make it possible for us to be ready on time. The success we’ve had in our first year can be attributed to the hard work of the coaches, players and staff. We’re very happy with the love affair we’ve started between the hockey club and the province.”