So close I can taste it…

by Steve, September 26th, 2006

hockey entryThe beer at the old Memorial Coliseum, that is, where the Portland Winter Hawks will play their home opener this Saturday. The natives are definitely restless over at the Oregon Live fan forum, with a handful so bitter about the killing of the radio deal they are convinced the new ownership group is bent on driving the franchise into the ground.

Never mind the piles of money they’re dumping into the old Coliseum and media marketing. The fact that this is a rebuilding year for the Hawks is somehow pinned on the new owners and their lack of savvy in marketing the team. At least by forum gadfly MrCS, who maintains that Donovan should have taken over on the condition that Hodge fire head coach Mike Williamson at the end of last year.

The fact is, Jack Donovan took over the business side of the team and left the hockey operations to long-time GM Ken Hodge. A prudent move, since he has no hockey experience. Even if he knew hockey, it wouldn’t make sense to walk right in and micromanage the hockey side. For the record, I am not a supporter of Mike Williamson. He’s a real nice guy, but he’s had his chance to do something with the Winter Hawks. But given that this is a rebuilding year (and would be under any management), with only a handful of returning vets (none of them proven scorers), it wouldn’t make much difference if Deputy Dog were head coach. We’d still be rebuilding, and an odds-on favorite to be the one team in the US division to miss the playoffs.

My bottom-line take: Win or lose, t’s still the best game in town. Even if it’s only on the visiting team, we’re going to see some first-rate hockey played by futre NHL stars in the classic Memorial Colisuem with tasty beer poured from freshly replaced lines, and eventually watching replays on the best replay screens in town. The new kids are going to be fun to watch develop, and a couple of them might have some surprises in store for us (Frazee, Sjodin, Langweider).

(By the way, in case you aren’t paying attention, the Hawks lost their first two games on the road 6-3 to Kamloops and 9-0 to Vancouver. Ouch.)