Leonard Drops the Gloves

by Steve, April 8th, 2008

It seemed like Randy Leonard was pulling his punches when he wrote to me a couple weeks ago that he “was not convinced… that the Blazers were to blame for the deteriorating relationship” in lease renegotiation talks with the Winter Hawks.

Now he’s dropped the gloves.

In today’s Portland Tribune, Leonard tells us how he really feels.

He says “I felt like I was being played,” and “an impartial observer could conclude, ‘Am I in the middle of a used-car deal, or a problem with the Winter Hawks?'”

In addition to the lack of negotiation prowess, issues surrounding the price and quality of the big screens Leonard helped get installed at the Coliseum and bluster about moving to Salem have Leonard disillusioned with the ownership group of Jim Goldsmith, Jack Donovan and John Bryant.

You’ve got to give him credit for trying, but he’s now part of the legions of disgruntled Hawks fans who are increasingly resigned to the fact that their home town hockey team may soon be folding or moving.

I still hold out hope that the league will force a sale, and we’ll get an owner group that knows hockey, knows sports marketing, and knows how to negotiate.

Hey, it could happen!

2 Responses to “Leonard Drops the Gloves”

  1. Comment from Gary Walter:

    Steve, Actually Portland used to have a Bona Fide semi-pro hockey team – the Portland Buckaroos. Of course, that was back when the Western Hockey League was on par with the EHL and the CHL.

    But the blazers sacked that too. Harry Glickman, the former GM of the Buckaroos helped bring the Blazers to town, which has been a success. However, Portlanders, with their focus on areas outside of arena sports, couldn’t support a semi-pro and a major league franchise. So, the Bucks went away and we were left with the Winterhawks – which is basically Junior A hockey.

    The loss of the Buckaroos also hurt PAHA (Portland Amateur Hockey Association) – evidenced by fewer ice rinks in a city that has doubled in size.

    I don’t think the NHL players strike helped this any either.

    Hockey is a great sport, but those who live in the temperate environs called “the States” haven’t completely figured that out yet.

    Thanks for listening,
    Gary (never quite good enough for the NHL)

  2. Comment from Steve:

    Hey Gary, actually the Buckaroos were fully pro, and only went semi-pro when the WHL folded in ’74. Many folks think the level of play in the old WHL was on par with the NHL.

    The Winter Hawks are Canadian major junior, which is at least a level above junior A. (USA hockey now has three tiers of Junior A, just to add to the confusion; tier I is as close to Canadian major junior as USA hockey gets, but even that’s not quite there. Then there’s tier III junior A, like the Jaguars, which are several steps below the Hawks.)

    Canadian major junior is the top level of junior hockey in the world. Of the four teams left in this year’s NHL playoffs, only one — Detroit — doesn’t have a former Winter Hawk on its roster.