No surprise Storm appears to be staying in Summerside

Joe MacIntyre
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Was there ever any doubt? 

All the rumours that the Summerside Storm pro basketball team was considering a move to Charlottetown appear to be over with this week's announcement that the team is closing in on a deal with the City of Summerside.

That is certainly the right move for the organization as everything that was so successful in their first year would be put in jeopardy with a move to our capital city. I take nothing away from Charlottetown, and there were probably a lot of reasons to consider a move, but why tinker with success?

The great following the Storm had this past year had a genuine good time going to games at EastLink Arena, and would that same following follow the Storm to the Charlottetown Civic Centre?

That had to be the big question on the minds of Storm owners Duncan Shaw and Darren MacKay while considering what to do next year.

EastLink Arena is by far the best Island facility to  showcase pro basketball, and there is little doubt that this league has a better chance for success in Summerside – and mainly because of the facility.

The Storm did so many things right last year, and built something from nothing. Starting over at the Civic Centre would not be a step forward, but a couple of steps back. That did not appear to be the right thing to do, and obviously Storm ownership knew that.

Moving forward

Moving forward with the National Basketball League of Canada, one hopes that the league is on solid footing, and that the other six teams are in at least as good of a position as Summerside appears to be in.

There is little doubt that the Summerside Storm lost money this past year, and ownership expected that. If the Storm lost money as one of the league's more successful teams fan-wise, what did the other teams lose?

One would think that other teams would have budgets similar or greater than Summerside, and pockets are only so deep. At some point, something has to give, and that is why that strong ownership is so critical for the success of this league.

There is little doubt that attendance has to increase greatly, and teams have to have success tapping into those corporate sponsorship dollars if the league is to survive long term.

The league’s ownership meetings are just around the corner, and there is little doubt that there will be a lot of questions that will need to be answered.

For now, it looks like local basketball fans can look forward to next year, and hopefully years to come.

St. John’s Ice Caps

The St. John’s Ice Caps are enjoying great success in their first year in St. John's, N.L. The Caps are the No. 1 farm team of the Winnipeg Jets, and moved to the Newfoundland and Labrador capital at the beginning of this season. They were formally known as the Manitoba Moose, and played out of Winnipeg.

The Ice Caps are currently in the American Hockey League's Eastern Conference semifinals with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and led the series 3-2 going into Friday night's Game 6 in St. John's.

The Ice Caps finished first in the league's Atlantic Division, and beat the Syracuse Crunch in the opening round of the playoffs. The Ice Caps are still owned by True North Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Winnipeg Jets.

The unique thing about the Ice Caps is that the team is leased by former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams. We have heard about leasing a car, boat, computer, etc., but a hockey team?

Leave it to the flamboyant and charismatic Williams to come up with such an idea. Usually everything Williams gets involved in turns to success, and the Ice Caps are no different. They sell out every game – nearly 6,300 fans – at Mile One Stadium.

It is great to see AHL hockey back on The Rock after the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled out their farm team six years ago.

McGill Redmen

The McGill Redmen won this year's Canadian University Cup hockey championship last March in Fredericton, N.B.

The McGill program is the oldest-running hockey program  in the world at 136-years-old. It was the Montreal-based university's first-ever national hockey title, and it came on the 50th anniversary of the University Cup championship.  

Harness racing

Live harness racing at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway begins Sunday, May 20. P.E.I.'s oldest-running harness racing track is getting set for season No. 126.

Live harness racing has been a big part of sports in Summerside since 1886. The track is going to race on Sundays for the next eight weeks leading up to Lobster Carnival Week on Monday, July 9.

The Governor's Plate is only a little over 2 months away as this year's big race will go on Saturday, July 14.

Bob Cole

Bob Cole is the No. 2 announcer for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. Cole has been an announcer for 43 years now, and one has to wonder just how long the 79-year-old Cole will keep broadcasting?

Although he can still call an exciting game, it seems that he is a bit behind the play.

Cole began his broadcasting career with CBC Radio in 1969 as a hockey announcer before moving to television in 1973. He was a pretty good curler in his day as he skipped Newfoundland teams in the 1971 and 1975 Briers.

A lot of Canadians grew up listening to Bob Cole and, as with everything in life, all good things must come to an end. I think that is sooner rather than later for Cole!    

Have a great week!

 

Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to j-mac@eastlink.ca.

Organizations: Charlottetown Civic Centre, Winnipeg Jets, National Basketball League of Canada American Hockey League Manitoba Moose CBC Radio True North Sports and Entertainment Toronto Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Summerside, Charlottetown, Newfoundland and Labrador Iceland St. John's Winnipeg Wilkes-Barre Fredericton Canada

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