The group of 14 investors that stepped forward to purchase the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team from the Savard family should be congratulated as should vice-president Trent Birt for making this deal possible.
These individuals are committed to the team, to the community and to P.E.I. hockey fans who would have very little in the way of hockey entertainment next winter had the Rocket moved elsewhere. In addition, there’s full-time and part-time jobs involved, restaurant business, hotel rooms, and a wide range of other spinoff activities.
It’s good for the City of Charlottetown and the province and although neither is flush with cash these days, if both did help in any way I would be the first of a great many who would applaud such a move. I’ve seen my tax dollars spent on less worthy projects.
As for the Savards, especially Serge Sr. and Junior who tried to make the team a success, who could ever fault them after 10 long, mostly unsuccessful years. It’s no secret that Serge probably could have waited and gotten more elsewhere but instead of taking his ball and going home because his team didn’t win, he handed it off to the new group and wished them all the best. Classy always, the Savards.
The famous Junior Islanders of the mid-1960s under head coach Jack Hynes were owned by a similar like minded community group of owners and they proved to be the most successful and popular hockey team at the box office and on the ice since the powerful pro teams like the Charlottetown Islanders of the 1950 Maritime Big Four League.
There is excitement in the city right now and I hope it carries over to the box office of the new team whose name is still yet to be finalized.
As for a new name, oops “rebranding” is the word now, my first choice would be the Charlottetown Islanders or perhaps the Charlottetown Abbies, both local names with tremendous drawing power.
Of course, there will be a few branding experts that will argue “Prince Edward Island or Prince Edward” would mean the team represents the entire province. I’ve never heard of such foolish examples of political correctness. Funny how the Bruins are the Boston Bruins not the Massachusetts Bruins.
Let’s change the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Ontario Maple Leafs. The marketing experts in California tried California Golden Seals in the 1970s but isn’t it strange the new owners came up with the L.A. Kings?
Closer to home, the Summerside Storm had a terrific following up in virgin basketball territory Prince County. I suppose marketing and branding experts will want to change that name to Prince Edward Storm.To the new owners, forget about any other name, go with Charlottetown Islanders.
On the ice
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment just can’t seem to get it right. Four years ago, the leaders of this Toronto group, Larry Tanenbaum, Richard Peddie and company, couldn’t find a worthy Canadian head coach or GM for the Toronto Maple Leafs so they went south of the border for Ron Wilson and Brian Burke. We all know what they did. Recently, MLSE finalized its search for a new CEO to look after properties like the Maple Leafs and the Raptors among others. The choice was St. Louis-born Tim Leiweke. Are you telling me, there are no Canadians capable of doing that job?
The hockey pools are in full swing. Yesterday, I took a look at brother Tex MacDonald’s selections and he had zero points. Stick to gridiron picks Tex.
The NHL playoffs are now in full swing with no real surprises so far. My picks were Boston over the Maple Leafs, Ottawa tops Montreal and San Jose eliminates Vancouver. In the West, look for Chicago in the final against either St. Louis or Detroit. Check the results to date and you’ll understand why I’m called the Sports Prophet!
On the diamond
The Toronto Blue Jays played terrible baseball in April and the loss of shortstop and key leadoff man Jose Reyes has had a devastating impact on the team. Manager John Gibbons, who was previously fired by the Blue Jays, is looking more and more every day like a baseball man who probably should be selling ice cream for a living.
I think he draws names out of a hat when making out the lineup. The Jays are now 10 games behind the Red Sox and they must get on a winning streak if they hope to stay in contention.
On the gridiron
In NFL news, the New York Jets didn’t win themselves any fans with their treatment of quarterback Tim Tebow. The Jets signed him but never game him an opportunity to show what he could do. They gave him no chance. A classless organization.
In other football news, Sock MacDonald gets inducted into the P.E.I. Football Hall of Fame tonight at 6 p.m. at the Jack Blanchard Centre.
On the links
The golf courses are now in full swing. Last Thursday, Roger MacLauchlan and I started off the season in proper form, trouncing Wendell MacEachern and Roger Duffy at Avondale. Maybe Belvedere this week, Roger!
On the track
Local harness racing continues tonight at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino in Charlottetown with a 13-dash card. Post time is
The $2,300 feature attraction goes in Race 12 and it features the return of last year’s sensation pacing colt Touch of Lightning (Earl Smith) from Post 6. Others inside include Camcun, Machinthesand, I’m Dreamin N, Oakrock Almighty,and Outlawpositivcharg.
In Posts 7 and outside are Carnivore, Big League and Windemere Express. There’s also the $2,000 Open Mares and it’s a tough field, with Private Joke, Too Ideal, Block Party ,Kaitlyn Rose, Keystone Nobility, J K Special and Lexis Mandy. There are a lot of new horses here from Ontario which makes for great racing.
Great Canadian Gaming, the same group that runs the Halifax and Cape Breton casinos, laid off most of its workers and do not have staff for the approved Flamboro extension until the end of May.
A number of Flamboro horsemen plan on racing in Buffalo until racing resumes end of the month at Georgian Downs.
The most wildly bet horse race in the world, the Kentucky Derby goes today from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and the three favourites in the 20-horse field are Orb, Verrazano and Revolutionary. Since P.E.I. and the CDP is called the Kentucky of Canada, somewhere many Islanders will be humming the chorus: “Weep no more my lady, Oh! Weep no more today, We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home, For the old Kentucky Home far away.’’
Harness racing fans can wager on the Derby card via simulcast this afternoon and during the live harness racing card tonight.
There is simulcast action from Woodbine, The Meadowlands and Yonkers tonight. Warrawee Needy is in against the likes Sing For Me Gorge and Up Front Hoosier Boy in the race one $34,000 top class.
There are familiar faces in the Meadowlands four year old open with Mel Mara, Hurricane Kingcole and Hillbilly Hanover while at Yonkers, New York. Mark MacDonald is up behind Pancetta in the $46,000 Open against the likes of Something for Doc and Annieswesterncard.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org