Q and A with Jasper Weatherby

After a breakout season this past year, Oregon native Jasper Weatherby recently decided to return to University of North Dakota for his Senior season to finish his degree. As a San Jose Sharks draft pick, he had the opportunity to sign his first pro contract, but had some unfinished business after UND suffered a heartbreaking loss in the 5th (!) overtime period of their NCAA Regional Championship. He was an Assistant Captain as a Junior, and is in the running for Team Captain this next year. He was more than willing to answer some questions for us about his hockey career that started here in the Pacific Northwest.

Walk us through your Oregon hockey roots.

I started hockey at the age of 8 when my best friend (Paiute Morrison, who actually goes to the University of Oregon and plays on their hockey team) and his family invited me to go to the Rink (located in Medford, Oregon). I played in-house hockey for a couple of years and then joined the travel team. We hardly ever had enough players so we often had a wide range of ages, and I played up most years. I also played in the annual 3-on-3 tournament at the little outdoor rink in the tiny town I’m from, Ashland. One great thing about hockey in our valley is that the adults welcome younger players at their drop-ins, so I had the chance to play with much better players and get mentored by some outstanding people in my community. 

Was roller hockey a part of your development?

I lived on rollerblades. I never played any organized roller hockey, but almost every Christmas my family would buy me a new pair of rollerblades. Paiute and I lived 2 doors down from each other and would rollerblade to school, play street hockey, and rollerblade to the store. We basically lived on our rollerblades so much, the wheels would get worn down every couple of weeks. 

When did you have to move away to further your career?  Where did you go, and what options did you explore?

I started traveling in 8th grade to Vancouver, B.C. for a spring league I was recruited into and then left home for good in 9th grade at the age of 13. I went to the Canadian International Hockey Academy in Ottawa. I looked at several boarding schools and found CIH to be the best option, especially with the financial package they were able to give me. It was a great decision; I had excellent coaches, and we played in a high-level league. It was a big eye-opener and I remember thinking, wow there are some really really good hockey players out there. 

How did you end up in Wenatchee?

I got invited to try out for Wenatchee after not making a number of junior teams, so it was kind of my last opportunity, and luckily I was able to make the team. 

You committed to UND in your final year of juniors, tell us about the process.  Were you in touch with other schools?  Did you have any connections to college hockey through family or coaches?

In my first year in Wenatchee I received zero offers and talked to maybe one school. The next year I kind of got my opportunity after putting in a lot of hard work in the summer. I was lucky enough to get contacted by a number of schools. None of my family has ever played hockey so I had no connections through them, but the coaches in Wenatchee are top-notch and helped me through the entire experience. 

Did you ever consider playing Major Juniors?

I never really considered it. I’ve always wanted to go the college route. As a kid, my dad took me to a couple of Portland Winterhawks games and I was invited to some WHL camps. But my goal was always to play college hockey so I could get my degree. 

The summer before your freshman year at UND, you got drafted by the San Jose Sharks in your final year of eligibility.  What were your expectations going into that draft, as well as previous drafts?

I was really surprised I got drafted. I was kind of a late bloomer and never had any interest from any teams my first two years of eligibility. In my final year I remember talking to some teams and thinking it was really cool and exciting, but didn’t think I’d actually get drafted. As the season went on, I realized it might be something that could happen, and I was lucky enough to get drafted by what I consider my hometown team. They are closest NHL team to southern Oregon, I grew up driving 6 hours south to watch hockey games at the Shark Tank! 

UND is famous for its opulent rink and rowdy fanbase.  Do you have a favorite rink in Oregon, or from the BCHL?  Any BCHL fanbases that stuck with you?

My favorite rink in Oregon is definitely the Rrrink in Medford or the outdoor rink in Ashland. In the BCHL I loved to play at the Town Toyota Center. The fans in Wenatchee are second to none and the building is top-notch! 

How often do you cross paths with former BCHL teammates or opponents in college hockey?  Are you expected to give scouting reports on your former teammates?

It’s pretty common and a lot of fun when I play a former teammate, with a little extra motivation to come out on the other side with the win. As for a pre-scout it’s not expected; the coaches do such a good job scouting, but something they will ask about a guy’s personality or tendencies. 

Your profile in the world of college hockey increased drastically this past year, both for your success on the ice, and leadership off the ice.  Can you explain what you’ve been doing away from the game to receive this recognition?

I think sometimes as hockey players or athletes in general we get put into a box of just being athletes or hockey players. For me, this past year was a great opportunity to show that we might be athletes, but we will always be people first. I’ve been trying to be vocal about some of the issues I feel strongly about. While I know it might not be everyone’s path, I think it’s important to stand up for what we believe in, and to use our voices to make a positive difference. 

Was there anything in your routines or lifestyle that helped you come on so strong during the second half of the season, either new or sustained?  Seemed like you scored a goal in every game those last few months.

I think just being able to get into a role and find some comfort with my linemates. I try to keep my routines pretty normal. I tend to believe if you do the right things and keep it simple, good things will happen. I was lucky enough to have the puck start going in. Hopefully, I can build on that to start next year. 

What advice would you give to a young Oregonian looking to navigate their own hockey odyssey?

I would say just believe in yourself. There was this stigma around not being from a huge hockey hotbed, which is something I’m trying to change because it’s not the setting that matters, it’s what you do with it. Wherever you’re from, be it Toronto or a little town in Oregon, you have to work hard, be a good teammate, but most importantly love what you are doing. Sometimes I see players from big hockey towns not fully grasp what they have. I think being from somewhere like Oregon where ice is hard to find will give you some perspective of how lucky you are to be playing hockey when you do get the chance. I would encourage any kid from Oregon or a small hockey town to reach out to me if they have any questions and I will be happy to share what I can. 

One last question: Ducks, Beavers, or neither?

Ducks! My brother and Paiute go there! Let’s get a division one hockey team there and an NHL team in Portland.

Initial Thoughts on the New Winterhawks Owners

After hitting the market shortly after the pandemic ended their season, the Winterhawks’ new owners officially took over on January 1st, buying the storied franchise for $5.85 million.  Since then, it’s become clear that the people involved in the ownership group have the hockey and business bonafides necessary to better fulfill the potential Portland has as a hockey town.  Despite a history of skepticism, this author is excited about the team’s future, and here’s why you should be too.

The new entity formed for ownership, Winterhawks Sports Group, is run by managing partners Kerry Preete (pictured above on the right) and Michael Kramer (left).  The tie that binds these two is their work with agricultural corporate giant Monsanto; the former was a VP there, and the latter owns the brokerage firm that managed Monsanto’s sale to Bayer.  Preete grew up in Saskatchewan, and played both junior and college hockey in Canada before embarking on an impressive business career from which he recently retired. Kramer rose from “blue collar roots” to the top of Wall Street, and currently owns a dual sheet hockey rink in Norwalk, CT.  Right off the bat, these two pass the litmus test, so it was icing on the cake to find out that longtime NHL executive Peter Luukko is working with them as well.  Luukko is currently the chairman of Oak View Group’s facilities division, overseeing the construction of the Seattle Kraken’s practice arena.  He previously worked on Winter Classics and the Frozen Four during his time with the Flyers, and just like Preete, he coaches youth hockey in his spare time. They also retained the existing staff, including President Doug Piper and GM/Head Coach Mike Johnston, so the transition should go as smoothly as one could expect in the current circumstances.

Their introduction through the organization brought some interesting tidbits, including how Kramer previously served on the board of the Rose Garden prior to the arena’s sponsorship agreement with Moda Health.  The new owners also discussed their intention to remodel and improve the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, focusing on it as the primary facility and “day-to-day home” with the goal of making it “one of the most exciting venues” in junior hockey.  They were deliberately vague, but given the unknowns facing their franchise’s upcoming season, it was as forthcoming as they could be at the moment.  When addressing Portland’s hockey community, they were excited for the opportunity to have the local youth hockey program under the franchise’s purview, and they mentioned their recent discussions with community leaders about how to expand it.  They didn’t explicitly mention building a new facility, but it’s clear they are aware of the need for more ice, and the aforementioned involvement of Luukko means someone with experience building rinks from the ground up is part of the team.  Combining that with Kramer’s experience owning a privately held community rink bodes well for Portland finally getting more sheets. The previous owner promised a facility but never delivered; his lack of experience with privately owned community rinks was evident as the project was continually delayed and never broke ground. The proposed public/private hybrid approach didn’t work as expected, and may have ruined the possibility of publicly financed/managed community rinks in Portland over the long haul.

On the topic of rinks, just last month the new owner of Sherwood Ice Arena shut down the rink due to restrictions in place because of the pandemic, describing it as “…the end of any skating activity in the future of Sherwood.”  While that seems a bit hyperbolic, losing one of the few rinks in the area for the foreseeable future is a tough pill to swallow for anyone itching to get back on the ice once the restrictions are rolled back.  Should the rink go up for sale again, the new Winterhawks ownership group would be in a good position to buy it.  The current owner invested in a VR hockey training station and started a new youth travel program, so it’s possible there were more plans in store for the facility, like adding a sheet on the rink-shaped patch of grass next to the building.  Regardless of who owns it going forward, SIA is an important cornerstone of hockey in Portland, so the sooner it can reopen the better.  A recent campaign gathering testimonies of what SIA means to Oregonians was submitted to the Governor’s office, so our elected officials are aware of the perilous situation the rink is in.

Back to the new ownership, another interview with Kramer briefly touched on the topic of the Winterhawks logo, and he mentioned that the league requires 18 month notification of an alteration.  He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the team’s classic logo and spoke fondly of it, but also mentioned performing due diligence on whether or not keeping the logo is right for the community.  With both the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians recently removing Native American imagery from their teams, Winterhawks fans should be prepared for the possibility of an eventual change.  That said, it’s a difficult topic that will evoke emotional responses from many people, so the owners should tread carefully.

After a long period of uncertainty, just knowing that new owners were in place would have been relieving enough, but the apparent engagement and acknowledgement of the local hockey community’s potential is very encouraging.  Here’s to hoping they are able to successfully tap it in the near future.

Open Letter to Potential Winterhawks Owners

To any prospective owners of the Winterhawks, please read the following before signing on the dotted line.  Portland’s hockey community needs the new ownership to commit to building our hockey infrastructure and pursuing new fans of the team and the sport while engaging with existing fans (from casual to hardcore).

For the last four years, the Winterhawks were supposedly going to build two new sheets in Beaverton.  For a myriad of reasons, the money never materialized and shovels never hit the ground.  Given the former owner’s bankruptcy issues, it now makes a lot more sense.  This leaves our metro area of 2.5 million people with only three hockey rinks slated for public use, and none in Portland city limits.  Considering only a few hours north of here is Vancouver B.C., arguably a top 5 hockey city in the world, we are grossly under-served in terms of available ice.  This is a serious opportunity to grow the game, and in turn, the local fan base.  A dual sheet facility (potentially converting a former warehouse) should be considered a necessary expense to factor into the purchase price.  To give you an idea, the former owner was expecting to spend over $10 million on the new Beaverton rink.

Beyond the new rinks, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the Winterhawks play a majority of their games, needs some work as well.  It is historically significant, and with hockey losing its blue collar roots, it feels like a throwback.  There is lots of potential to spruce it up while retaining the nostalgic feel.  At the very least, you could incorporate an organ and lean into the old time hockey environment.

You will also find yourself pressured to change the name and/or logo.  You’re on your own in terms of advice for that; just make sure you don’t use the name without the logo.  Rip the band-aid off entirely or leave it be.  Either way, people will disagree with your decision.

A major upside to owning a hockey team in Portland is the fact that very few people living here have allegiance to any of the Winterhawks’ opponents.  Almost everyone can be converted to a fan with the right marketing, community engagement, and sustained success.  The simple gesture of donating sticks and nets to schools for floor hockey in gym class or after-school clubs would be a good start. 

Another advantage is that Portland is a desirable place for players.  Seth Jones straight up told Everett (who held his rights at the time) that Portland was the only team for whom he was willing to play. They could either trade his rights to the Winterhawks, or watch him play NCAA hockey instead; it wasn’t long before he signed with Portland.  They were WHL champions the year he played for them, but haven’t been since; they are in good shape to make a run next year, though, so you would be coming in at the right time.

In summary, please know that there is work to be done, but if you are in it for the long haul and see this as an opportunity to grow the game of hockey (rather than just a vehicle for passive income), I can guarantee you’ll be embraced by Portland and its hockey community.  Good luck, and hopefully we’ll see you on the ice sooner rather than later.

Terpenning Complex Update

A discussion with THPRD about the status of the dual-sheet facility proposed at the Terpenning Complex yielded some updates. With no meaningful progress to report, Portland’s oft-jaded hockey enthusiasts are undoubtedly thinking “here we go again.” This post won’t make the cynics do an about-face, but it will lay out where we’re at for additional ice sheets.
The rinks were first proposed in 2016, and the entities involved constantly pushed back their completion date without ever putting shovels in the ground. When the Winterhawks first came to THPRD to propose the joint effort between them, THRPD’s board was excited for the opportunity. Since then, THPRD’s board added some new members that are less enthusiastic about a project that continues to linger in limbo. With dwindling support from THPRD, patience for the Winterhawks to close the financial gap of over $5 million is wearing thin.
The Winterhawks anticipated more success with external fundraising from nearby companies like Nike, Intel, Columbia, Leupold & Stevens, and more. In their defense, we can’t expect the taxpayers and local businesses to foot the bill for a private sports team owned by a billionaire who resides in Canada. The Winterhawks’ owner, Bill Gallacher, believes that because he is used to the public paying for ice rinks all over Canada, we should do the same in Portland. This same attitude is clearly extended to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where his private investment is minimal at best, leaving the public to foot the bill for the building’s disrepair.
Adding all of this up paints a bleak picture for the possibility of the sheets getting built. Indeed, THPRD’s board is preparing an ultimatum for the Winterhawks to either put up or shut up. This could either result in talks shutting down completely, or the Winterhawks covering the gap between total costs and money raised. The saving grace for the hockey community is the fact that the Winterhawks can’t just fall back on the status quo.
The current facility used by the Winterhawks for practice is owned by Jesuit High School, along with the rest of the strip mall and parking lot next to the school. The Winterhawks are in the 3rd year of a 5 year lease agreement, but after that ends, Jesuit could very well choose not to offer another lease and finally start their long-planned expansion. Jesuit’s transformation is not a matter of if, but when. The Winterhawks need to plan ahead for this, and according to sources, they are looking at warehouses on the east side as possible conversions as we speak. Should those plans not be cost-effective, they have no choice to but make the THPRD facility work.
A major roadblock to the THPRD facility is the rising cost of construction; the money committed at this point would cover the original estimate, but not the current projection. With every crane in the sky or housing complex underway around Portland, that drives up the cost for other projects. I’ve personally noticed on regional flights to Idaho and Montana a sizable amount of my fellow passengers are construction workers being flown in to work in Portland. Think about that: it is easier to pay for them to fly in and stay at a hotel (which likely includes a per diem stipend) than to find more construction workers in town. Should the construction market slow down, the cost of building the rinks would decrease to a more reasonable amount.
A potential rationale for the Winterhawks to drag their feet on the THRPD project could be their minimum wage situation. Their attempt to pass a bill through the State Senate exempting them from paying minimum wage to their players was denied, despite claiming that they would not be able to continue operating in Oregon without it. This was either based on faulty information, or a flat out lie, as they didn’t even bother trying again the following session. With no mention of the minimum wage exemption these days, it begs the question: were they waiting for the issue to go away before cementing their position in the area?
On a more positive note, Sherwood Ice Arena is changing ownership, and rumor has it that the new owners hope to have a second sheet underway within two years.* The city of Sherwood is notoriously bureaucratic, and wants to make sure that parking and infrastructure will be in place before construction begins. Adding alcohol sales to the site is supposedly part of the plan as well. (UPDATE: the previous owner of Sherwood reached out to debunk these rumors, but according to an email sent out by the new owner, a beer garden is ready for when the rink reopens following the state-mandated closure). Regardless of what happens, Sherwood is too far from the rest of Portland for the Winterhawks to use it as a practice facility, so they still need to figure out their plans. Be it a warehouse conversion (for hopefully two sheets rather than one) or the THRPD plans they originally proposed, we are poised for more sheets of ice in the near future.
The rumored expansion of Sherwood Ice Arena could also allow for more youth and adult tournaments. There are a few tournaments every year for both, but having a second sheet allows for more games, making travel worthwhile for out of town teams. The economic impact of travel tournaments on the surrounding community is well documented. Youth tournaments in Portland usually require the ice at both SIA and WSC, making their coordination difficult. A new adult tournament this upcoming March is doing the same at WSC and Mountain View Ice Arena in Vancouver, and it looks like it will attract some out of town teams. SIA hosts adult tournaments whenever time allows, usually twice a year, and I can attest to their enjoyability and inclusiveness for adults of all skill levels. There’s also the Rose Cup at Mountain View every June, which fills up quickly with many of the same teams every year.
While the current rink situation in Portland is less than ideal, there are reasons to be optimistic for the future. How exactly it shapes out is up in the air, but there’s really nowhere to go but up. Just keep in mind that the Winterhawks are well aware of their need for a new practice facility; let’s hope they build multiple sheets and make them a cornerstone of the Portland community.

*CORRECTION: the original post was worded in a way that implied the new owners of Sherwood were interviewed for the article. I apologize for the poor composition; everything published about Sherwood was second (or more)-hand information.

Oregon Ducks Hockey Has NCAA Aspirations

With ASU’s upstart NCAA team being the talk of college hockey, their fellow PAC-12 schools are taking notice, and some hope to emulate their overnight success.  The University of Oregon’s club team is working diligently to position themselves alongside ASU and other big name schools in NCAA hockey.

Saskatchewan native Rylee Orr was back in North America after his previous professional contract wrapped up in Europe, and started looking at coaching vacancies.  When he noticed U of O’s posting, he recognized the potential the school has based on his own club hockey career at Utah State. “I saw ASU cruising up [the club hockey rankings] on their way to NCAA, and had always expected Oregon to do the same, so I applied for the job, got it, and moved to Eugene.”  He talked to his friend and former teammate Cooper Limb about bringing him on board as an Assistant Coach, and suddenly the team had a new core of coaches aligned with their GM Sam Rosenberg’s vision of elevating the Oregon Ducks to NCAA D-1. Currently currently in the American College Hockey Association (ACHA), they are in the ACHA’s D-2, competing in the PAC-8, which is made up of club teams from PAC-12 schools as well as other universities in the region.  

“Right away, our goal was to win the PAC-8 and make it to the regional tournament, and we achieved that goal.  Next season will be at the [ACHA] D-2 level with some [ACHA] D-1 opponents, with the same goal of the regional tournament and nationals, and we’re hoping to go [ACHA] D-1 the following year,” explained Orr.  

“D-1 is more expensive; more travel is involved.  Qualifying for the D-1 national tournament requires 16 games against D-1 opponents.”  Schools like Arizona, UNLV, Utah, Colorado and Colorado State are the closest teams at that level, so scheduling grueling double and triple-headers over long weekends will be part of the grind.  

The higher level is well worth the effort; when ASU elevated their club team, they had just won a national championship in ACHA D-1.  This allowed for as smooth of a transition as possible when you go from collecting fees from players (on top of tuition) to offering full-ride athletic scholarships.  Penn State was in the same situation when they elevated their program earlier this decade.

Some of the built-in advantages the Ducks possess also drew Orr to the position.  “The Oregon Ducks brand…it’s recognized nationwide and in Canada. That makes recruiting easier,” he stated.  “The winter weather is also nicer than most hockey schools.” The current roster has six skaters from Alberta, and the team has scouts helping with recruiting in British Columbia as well.  Beyond that, the local rink in Eugene is invaluable to the team. Orr boasted, “We’re the only PAC-8 school with our own locker rooms.” The rink also provides a built-in opponent with the Eugene Generals, a local junior hockey team.  Because club hockey scheduling allows for some freedom and creativity, the friendly “home vs. home” matches bring out fans of both teams and showcase the hockey atmosphere Eugene is capable of drawing.

Chatting with the coaches made it clear that they are devoted to the cause.  “I’ve got all my eggs in this basket; I’m giving it my all,” Orr intimated. His efforts were recognized this season when he was named the PAC-8’s Coach of the Year.

Limb is also doing whatever it takes to make this opportunity work, holding down two jobs in order to have the flexibility required to travel on the weekends during the winter, when the elements are more likely to cause delays.  “It was snowing a lot in Lake Tahoe during the PAC-8 tournament, so on our trip back, we went only 12 miles in 3 hours,” Limb recalled.

Limb doubles as the team’s trainer, creating the workouts for their sessions at the gym.  They are currently able to reserve a section for themselves at set times, and hope to add a reserved weight room slot in the future, utilizing the school’s legendary athletic infrastructure.  One of the major advantages in prospect development NCAA hockey has over Major Juniors is spending more time strength-training at the gym, and the Ducks are positioning themselves to have that aspect covered.

An important mantra of sports is that success begets success, and the team’s successful season is resulting in newfound exposure in the modern era.  Broadcasting their games on Youtube allows engagement with Ducks faithful that enjoy hockey. Their jersey looking so darn good helps; ESPN’s resident college hockey aficionado John Buccigross wore it for a broadcast, and NHL on NBC heaped praise on the jersey when sharing it on Twitter.  Hockey itself is still a niche sport in the region, and getting new fans to attend games is the first step to getting them interested in both Ducks hockey and the sport in general.  Their success is poised to snowball from there.

Their resurgence has the coaches preparing to start a booster club in the near future.  “We’re willing to grind this out and do it the hard way,” Limb remarked about their fundraising.  While much of the speculation around Ducks hockey elevating to the NCAA is because of the school’s relationship with Nike founder Phil Knight, that’s not the only way to build a team.  Accumulating donations towards an endowment can have a snowball effect, attracting bigger donors as the endowment grows over time.

With a dedicated staff building on their success, Ducks hockey is ready to take off.  Make sure to become a fan and booster now before the bandwagon starts filling!

PAC-12 Hockey: Not If, But When

With the recent success of Arizona State University’s NCAA hockey team (as well as University of Oregon’s club hockey team), it’s time for an in-depth look at the potential for PAC-12 hockey.

A few years ago, Arizona State came out of seemingly nowhere and announced their decision to elevate their club hockey team to the NCAA.  Lacking a conference affiliation while hosting games at a rink with minimal capacity, they were expected to flounder for a while before being taken seriously.  Almost immediately, though, they started attracting talented recruits and fielding a competitive team. They are a virtual lock to make the NCAA tournament this season in only their 3rd full year as a D-1 program (their first season included club and D-3 opponents).  During the press conference for the announcement, they stated their expectation for other PAC-12 schools to follow suit. Later in this article, the hockey situation of all PAC-12 schools will be examined individually, but first, a quick synopsis of some factors in college hockey expanding westward.


For a university to add NCAA hockey, the biggest hurdle is money.  Costs include scholarships, equipment, an arena, an endowment for operating expenses, staff wages, and travel for competition as well as recruiting.  Arizona State was able to do it with ~$30 million; Penn State required $100 million. For perspective, Minnesota State University-Moorhead tried to raise $35 million earlier this decade to build a D-1 program, but came up short in fundraising efforts, so the $30-35 million range is a reasonable target.


Skipping the arena aspect is tempting for potential teams looking to cut costs, but an on-campus arena is crucial for student engagement in college hockey.  Large, empty buildings are not conducive to an exciting atmosphere, so an ideal rink would seat between 3,000 and 6,000, based on campus enrollment size and the surrounding metro population.  There are obviously exceptions, but even in hockey-mad Minnesota, the Golden Gophers are struggling to fill in half of their 10,000 seats this season. Location is also a bigger factor than most observers realize.  Before the University of Nebraska-Omaha recently unveiled Baxter Arena on campus, their off-campus rink at a pro-size facility in downtown Omaha was cited as a knock against them by rivals schools in recruiting. Side note: Vancouver, WA native Riley Alferd is a Senior at UNO, starting his college career the year Baxter opened.  That said, UNO’s use of off-campus rinks in the nearly 20 years prior to the new facility shows there are multiple paths to D-1 hockey; no two teams will follow the same blueprint.

California’s Hockey Boom

With hockey’s explosion in California over the past twenty years, we are seeing more and more recruits coming from both SoCal and the Bay Area.  Beau Bennett, Rocco Grimaldi and Emerson Etem are just some of the blue chip prospects to get drafted in the first or second round out of California in the past decade.  Bennett even tweeted (tongue-in-cheek of course) his “commitment” to ASU immediately after they announced their elevated status. Another California native, Cam York, is expected to get picked in the first round in this summer’s upcoming draft.

Other California natives have found success at the NCAA level in recent years despite not being drafted in the NHL, including Patrick Khorodorenko, Trevor Moore, Austin Ortega, and Will Johnson.  Beyond NCAA, the Portland Winterhawks’ roster included some Californians lately, including Chase De Leo and Miles Koules, and their decision to forgo the NCAA may have stemmed from a desire to stay on the west coast.  All of these skilled players point to a potential goldmine for ASU in the near future, and enough local talent for multiple PAC-12 teams.

Title 9

Another decision to factor in when considering college hockey is the impact it has on Title 9, which requires equal athletic opportunities for each gender.  Adding women’s hockey may not be the best option; University of North Dakota recently cut their women’s program for budget reasons.  Women’s lacrosse and field hockey are less expensive alternatives, and with women’s teams in each sport already existing out west, the infrastructure is more supportive.

Club Hockey

The two most recent additions to NCAA hockey, ASU and Penn State, were both successful at the ACHA D-1 level before transitioning to NCAA.  Only a few of the PAC-12 schools are currently at that level; the PAC-8 conference is ACHA D-2.  Aspiring to ACHA D-1 is an important step on the road to NCAA hockey.

Now, without further ado, here are capsules for all remaining PAC-12 teams (in no specific order):


The Buffaloes are not mentioned often when college hockey expansion is discussed, but they are definitely a ‘sleeper’ candidate to add a team.  Currently in ACHA D-1, only Arizona and UNLV have a current roster better situated for the move. They also have a rink on campus in their student recreation center that could be used indefinitely for practice, as well as for the short term while the spectator arena is built/renovated.  With a major airport and three current NCAA D-1 programs in the vicinity (Colorado College, Air Force Academy and University of Denver), their travel costs would be lower than for other PAC-12 schools as well. Boulder could realistically be the home of the NCAA’s next hockey out west. If/when that happens, expect Colorado State to perform due diligence as well; CU vs. CSU is a top rivalry in club hockey.


After their recent addition of men’s lacrosse, Utah is more likely to focus on the recent addition to their athletic department than explore adding more programs.  Much like how Arizona State added hockey, an affluent parent of a player on the club team donating the necessary funds is how they moved up to NCAA status. Their club team competes at ACHA’s D-1 level, but there are no arenas near campus to allow an easy transition to NCAA.


Frequently cited in message boards discussing college hockey expansion due to its relationship with Nike founder Phil Knight, the Ducks are a hockey program on the rise after winning the PAC-8 club hockey championship this year, earning a berth in the regional tournament.  Due to the proximity to Portland, the Ducks’ potential for NCAA hockey will be discussed at length in an article of its own in the near future.  The coaches were more than willing to chat about the transition for the article, and they are fully committed to the cause.  Eugene is on its way to becoming a new hockey hotbed.

Oregon State

With the closest rink to Corvallis located in Eugene, the Beavers have never had a club hockey team.  They are currently the least likely of the PAC-12 schools to ever field a hockey team in the NCAA, barring a generous and unexpected gift to the school.


Between their massive endowment, academic reputation and aristocratic alumni, there isn’t a school anywhere that could build a competitive team quicker.  Plenty of people affiliated with the school have the ability to create a team with the stroke of a pen. Their club team is known to practice at the private home ice rink of billionaire alumni Scott McNealy, a lifelong hockey fan.  Should they add a team, he will undoubtedly be involved.


Located near downtown Los Angeles, people would expect them to be able to use the Staples Center for a rink, but given that three pro teams already occupy it, that’s not feasible.  The club team has played rivalry games against UCLA there, but their current home ice is in Anaheim, 30 miles away from campus through LA’s notorious traffic. With a legendary alumni network and numerous wealthy graduates and boosters, it’s entirely possible there’s someone willing to put the money down for them to start up.  They are rumored to have considered and possibly already utilized the NHL’s feasibility study grants, provided by the league to assist universities explore the possibility of adding college hockey.


The Bruin’s home ice is in Burbank, 20 miles away from their campus.  While their rivalry games against USC at the Staples Center are a hit, they would need the same financial windfall as the rest of the schools, and given the University of California’s budget issues, it may be poorly received by the community to put college athletics before academics at a public institute.


The Wildcats are undoubtedly jealous of their biggest rival’s success in hockey, knowing that U of A also possesses the “party school” atmosphere and envious weather that makes ASU so appealing.  Their ACHA team is a perennial contender at the D-1 level, and they already sell a good amount of tickets at the Tucson Convention Center, a 6,800 seat arena only 2 miles from their campus. The arena is shared with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, resulting in far better amenities available to their club team than anywhere else out west.  Their transition would be less expensive and likely smoother than any other PAC-12 team at this point.


Much like how UNLV hockey wasn’t on anybody’s radar until the Golden Knights came to town, Seattle’s expansion franchise has suddenly flooded UW’s club team with attention.  Both the KeyArena and the proposed practice facility are within five miles of campus, so should elevating the University’s program be even an afterthought to the expansion team, the locations are feasible if not ideal.  It’s also not unrealistic to think that with the amount of capital floating around Seattle these days that someone would be willing to build a rink on campus. Hockey fever has gripped Seattle, so keep an eye on their program over the next few years.

Washington State

Despite the proximity to Canada, Pullman is not exactly a hockey town.  The only rink in the area is across the border in Idaho, closer to the University of Idaho than to Wazzu.  They are another longshot; consistently fielding a team is the first step.


Considering their Athletic Department’s finances after the debacle surrounding their new football stadium, it is hard to imagine Cal getting NCAA hockey anytime soon, which is unfortunate as it would be an easy school for recruiting given its stature in the world.  The nearest rink to Berkeley is in downtown Oakland, which is a quick BART ride away, but with no prospects for a new sheet anywhere near campus, they are yet another longshot.


Despite not being a part of the PAC-12, UNLV is vocally working towards going D-1 in the near future, and would be a natural fit for the conference.  With some club team funding provided by the Englestad family (the same benefactors who provided $100 million for the University of North Dakota’s fabled rink), as well as support from the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights (including their own locker rooms at the Knights’ practice facility), they could be the second team out west to go D-1.  They only recently joined ACHA’s D-1, and are already a top team at that level.  As a conference affiliate, they would be helpful in getting the PAC-12 to the six members threshold for the accompanying auto-bid into the NCAA tournament.

After all of the wild speculation in this article, here’s a guess at what the PAC-12 hockey conference will start with whenever it launches:

Arizona State






Make sure to tune in March 29th/30th for the Sun Devils’ first NCAA tournament appearance.  If you’re reading this, you probably have a good reason to be rooting for them! As for the Ducks, their first game in the ACHA West Regional tournament is March 1st.  Stay tuned for the aforementioned in-depth article about University of Oregon hockey as well.  Playoff hockey season is here, comrades!

Does Portland Possess the “3 Pillars” of a Successful NHL Franchise?

During Seattle’s recent acceptance into the NHL, a sound byte from the league mentioned the three pillars of a successful franchise:  solid ownership, robust fan support, and a modern arena. This article will discuss where Portland stands in all three facets.


For the last 20+ years since Portland was first graced with an NHL-caliber arena, an NHL team would only be able to happen with Paul Allen on board.  This was cemented even further when he purchased the Moda Center (then known as the Rose Garden) a decade ago. He was never interested in paying full price for a team, but was supposedly willing to buy a relocated team at a discount should the right opportunity present itself.  Both the Penguins and Coyotes had close calls where their team was saved from relocation to Portland by one of hockey’s superstars (Lemieux and Gretzky, respectively). When Allen passed away in October, the future of his estate appeared to be tied up for the foreseeable future; his sister is the main recipient.  Known for her philanthropy, she’s shown little interest in sports. His teams (he also owned the Seattle Seahawks) are operated under the umbrella of Vulcan Inc., which includes his other businesses and charitable foundations. What will happen with his estate is not clear, but with the Trail Blazers having a contract with the Moda Center (and the city of Portland) through 2025, their future is not in doubt for the near future.

What does this mean for NHL in Portland?  Well, the Winterhawks have a billionaire owner in Bill Gallacher that is familiar with the Moda Center and Vulcan Inc.’s sports division.  He has yet to publicly state anything about NHL in Seattle, and he is also waiting to see whether or not his Minimum Wage Bill exempting Winterhawks players will clear the Oregon State Senate on its second attempt.  Should it not pass, the team will have no choice but to depart, as they wouldn’t be able to operate under the same compensation rules as other teams in their league. They could conceivably be re-purposed as a minor league affiliate of the Seattle franchise; whether or not they could keep their moniker in that situation is difficult to predict given the already speculative nature of the topic.  Franchises in the AHL (the minor league) are worth in the $5-10 million range, so barely pennies on the dollar compared to an NHL franchise. Should the worst-case scenario of the Winterhawks not passing their bill as well as no teams look to relocate to Portland, the AHL would be the logical step for Gallacher.

It’s likely that if the bill doesn’t pass he will work with Vulcan (and/or others) to explore the possibility of bringing an NHL team here.  How receptive the league is will be the X factor. Being considered for relocated franchises in the past means Portland is on their map, just not as desired as Seattle and Houston.  The lack of expansion inquiries from Portland over the years has undoubtedly not impressed the league either. Still, Vulcan Sports CEO Chris McGowan has experience as the COO of AEG, which owns the LA Kings.  Should he and Gallacher join forces, the league would be confident in their ability to run a team.

Fan Support

Fan support is not a question in Portland when it comes to attendance; everyone in the city has heard someone cite the 13,000 person waitlist for Timbers season tickets, or how the Blazers hold the record for the longest sellout streak in professional sports.  That said, corporate dollars and television contracts are unfortunately more important in the eyes of the league, and less favorable in Portland than other cities. While per capita income and discretionary dollars are at all time highs, the metro population is only 2.5 million (not projected to cross 3 million until the 2030’s), and may be considered Seattle territory in terms of TV deals, so it wouldn’t be seen as nearly as lucrative of a city like Houston.  A borderline irrational desire for TV eyeballs is one of the main reasons the league continues to subsidize Arizona’s losses. It’s also tough to find corporate dollars in Portland compared to many other cities. A case could be made that Portland currently lacks sponsorship saturation (at the moment) with only two major level teams, but that may not be the case if MLB comes here. No real numbers or serious owners are known yet, however, so the MLB is far from guaranteed at this point.  If anything, it should galvanize potential NHL owners to beat them to the punch.


Portland already has a suitable arena, so a team could relocate here tomorrow.  It’s also not going to suffer the issues facing Ottawa, Florida and Arizona where the building is neither centrally located nor well-served by mass transit.  The Rose Quarter is the epicenter of light rail in Portland, with every route except the newly-minted Orange line stopping right outside. It’s also located where two major interstate roads intersect, allowing ease of dispersion when crowds depart games.

Moda Center was built to meet NHL specifications, but would now be the 8th oldest building in the league.  While there were over a dozen arenas built around the same time, the league may not look as warmly upon it as they would have a decade ago.  The last renovations took place in 2007, so it is likely due again sometime soon. The fact that hockey is already played in the building should indicate that the building would be adequate for the foreseeable future, though.  Bottom line, having the Moda Center is a major advantage for the NHL’s potential in Portland, and is a generation away from being considered a hindrance.

The Team Itself

It’s no secret the NHL owners want a team in Houston, and with Arizona moving to the Central division, most prognosticating hockey fans expect the Coyotes to wind up in Texas in the next few years.  Still, it’s possible the owners decide 33 teams in the league is acceptable, and nudge Houston in the direction of expansion instead. Given the Golden Knights’ success in their first year, the expansion draft looks more appealing than a relocated team.  Meanwhile, the league gets another $650 million or more on its books if they are an expansion team, so it’s not a done deal that the Coyotes will move to Houston. An expansion team in Houston would allow Arizona (or wherever the franchise is located) to be the 9th member of whatever division makes the most sense.   

Arizona isn’t the only team that could move; Ottawa and Florida are suffering the same fate as Arizona (Ottawa admittedly less pronounced attendance-wise but with exponentially more fan resentment towards to owner) due to their arenas all being located in the suburbs rather than near the city center.  All were poorly conceived from the start; suburbs are notorious for issues with transit as well as evening traffic already heading in their direction as opposed to clear roads to the city center. Side note: driving the 110 in the opposite direction of Los Angeles’ notorious rush hour to a few games at the Staples Center was an eye-opening experience for me in this regard.  Calgary and Ottawa need new rinks to stay viable; Florida needs fans to attend, period.  

Calgary’s mayor took a hard stance against the Flames’ owner saying any new arena or remodel needs to 100% privately funded, which irked Gary Bettman so much he contributed funds to the campaign of the mayor’s opponent in the last election.  Their best bet for a new arena was shot down when the city voted against an Olympic bid, and we all know Bettman has no qualms about abandoning a Canadian market, as ridiculous as it sounds. On that same token, Ottawa isn’t as meaningful to Portland, because nearby Quebec City would be their destination.  Florida is a bit of a wild card, though. They could go to Quebec City, or could come out west to allow Nashville to move to the Eastern Conference. Regardless of where they could move, their attendance is atrocious and the franchise is not sustainable.

The league is about to cry “poverty” during the next labor negotiations, so look for the Players Association to pile on about the league subsidizing the Coyotes and the Panthers.  This should put pressure on the league to move one or both of them for the 2021 season after the hopefully brief play stoppage currently projected for the start of the 2020 season.  The stars could align for one of them to move to Portland; if Houston goes the expansion route, Portland is the de facto front-runner to land them.


Seattle’s NHL expansion team has hockey fans in Portland both casual and hardcore itching for one here as well.  A little more patience is required to see how ownership shakes out, but we’ll know by the middle of 2019 (at the latest) if the Winterhawks are going to stay.  Given that TSN (the Canadian ESPN equivalent) and The Hockey News were the only major outlets to cover the Minimum Wage Bill after our local media dropped the ball, keep an eye on them as well as NHL PDX’s Twitter feed to stay up to date.  This could be the calm before the storm…

Local Rinks Update

Portland’s hockey community continues to be under-served in terms of public sheets of ice, and the metro area almost lost one of the three sheets this past summer when Mountain View Ice Arena’s closure was halted at the eleventh hour.  Between that and the anticipated opening of a two sheet facility in Beaverton, the community’s future is up in the air. This post will discuss the current situation regarding all of the individual rinks in the area.

Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District

Over two years ago, the Winterhawks announced their intention to open a new dual sheet arena at the Howard M. Terpenning Recreation Complex in Beaverton, located near the Nike campus.  It was described as a public-private relationship, with operations managed by the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District. As recently as early 2018, it was slated for a late 2019 opening date.  Shovels have yet to break ground, though, and the rejection of the Winterhawks’ Minimum Wage Bill by the Oregon State Senate cast some doubt over the project. Financing is also an issue, as naming rights remain for sale for the arena, suggesting a lack of private donations.  Interestingly, THPRD sent lobbyists to Salem to support the Winterhawks’ Bill, and the Park and Rec Director is (supposedly) a hockey parent, so they have some skin in the game as well.

The most assuring bit of news regarding the facility over the past few months was a job posting on THPRD’s website for a facility technician that included ice rink maintenance in the description.  Should the Minimum Wage Bill not pass in the 2019 Oregon Legislative Assembly, meaning the Winterhawks do not receive their exemption, the arena likely would not come to fruition quite as planned. That said, the project would be easily continued by private investors (including any pro team that were to materialize in Portland), so the Winterhawks aren’t as essential to the arena’s development as one might infer.

Winterhawks Skating Center

With crowded locker rooms and a facility showing its age, many of Portland’s transplants have an unfavorable first impression of this arena.  Located next to the campus of Jesuit High School, it made sense for the school to purchase the rink a few years ago. The quality of the ice itself has improved recently, and the leaky roof is no longer a nuisance.  It seems every year when it shuts down in July for annual maintenance there are whispers about whether or not it will re-open, but it remains resilient and an important cornerstone of Portland’s hockey community.

The ice time at WSC is devoted mostly to the Jr. Winterhawks youth program, and the relatively central location (compared to the other rinks) is an upside for hockey parents.  Across the street is the PDX Sportscenter, where the Jr. Winterhawks perform their dryland training. Love it or hate it, WSC is here to stay and remains vital to Portland’s youth hockey program.  Despite granting all available peak hours to youth hockey, every year the Jr. Winterhawks have to turn down potential players due to the lack of ice time. This issue is exacerbated by the Jr. Winterhawks no longer being able to use the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland due to the prohibitively high cost of ice time at the venue.

Sherwood Ice Arena

Located southwest of Portland in the exurb of Sherwood, the region’s nicest facility is where Portland’s adult hockey community is best served.  With 9 different leagues serving almost 60 teams complimented by strict oversight to ensure parity, adult players convene from all over the region to get their hockey fix.  While they provide some ice time to the Jr. Winterhawks, it is clear that the adult program is the priority. This may harm the potential for growth of the sport in Oregon, but it’s hard to justify slaughtering a cash cow when trying to turn a profit.  

The arena was very clearly built with room to expand; a large grass field the size and shape of an ice sheet lies between the parking lot and the east end of the building.  The city of Sherwood is concerned with parking capacity issues, so that will require attention before it allows development of a second sheet. Curiously, a Mexican restaurant is located on the far end of the parking lot, but cars never seem to be parked there by patrons.  How it remains in business is a mystery, but should it close down or be bought out, bulldozing it would alleviate some of the parking concerns.

Mountain View Ice Arena

Just north of Portland in Vancouver, Washington, Mountain View was nearly closed earlier this year by its owner, City Bible, in order to make room for their school’s expansion.  When some zoning issues stalled City Bible’s development plans, the facility operators offered to buy the arena in order to keep it open. They were given a year to come up with the $4 million purchase price, and a lack of pleas for assistance is a good sign that they are on track.  As the closest arena for much of Portland’s east side, the rink serves just as large of a segment of the local hockey community as Sherwood and WSC.

Castle Rock, Washington

Roughly an hour north of downtown Portland and an hour and a half south of Olympia (both assuming no traffic), Castle Rock is a small community of roughly 2,000 residents between Portland and Seattle on I-5.  Over a year ago, Greg Meakin, the original developer of Bremerton Ice Center in the Puget Sound, set his sights on Castle Rock as the location for his second arena project in Washington. Having relinquished his interest in Bremerton Ice Center only a year after opening it in 2003, he wants to own an arena again after learning some painful lessons from the process the first time around.  He envisions a two sheet facility supplemented by outdoor fields for football and baseball. While the community of Castle Rock isn’t large enough to fill the two sheets (and various fields) on its own, the intent is to host tournaments as often as possible to bring travel teams from Portland, Seattle and Canada to town. Meakin was recently hospitalized, but is now discharged and hopefully back to work on this complex.

The Pavilion

While not in the Portland metro, the success of the recently-christened ice rink at The Pavilion in Bend is worth noting.  Paid for with mostly public funding and opened in 2015, the rink is a rousing success with demand exceeding expectations. There is room for growth as well; because the rink is not yet fully enclosed, the season is short and somewhat dependent on the weather.  While it demonstrates that Oregon taxpayers are willing to pay for ice rinks, the downside to public funding is the city blocked further inquiries into building privately-funded sheets that would compete with the public site.

Portland’s hockey community experienced some highs and lows over the past few years with announced openings and closings of rinks, but the status quo held out for the time being.  We need more sheets of ice, which it appears is being addressed. Even if the Winterhawks back out of the Tualatin Hills facility, the groundwork is laid for another private entity to take their place.  As usual, cautious optimism is the best approach.

NHL to Seattle; AHL to Portland?

Portland’s beloved junior hockey team, the Winterhawks, threatened to relocate or cease operations without a minimum wage exemption for their players.  House Bill 4093, calling for just that, was recently denied by the Oregon State Senate in unceremonious fashion. Meanwhile, Seattle is a few years away from getting an NHL team in a renovated KeyArena, and their NHL team will need a nearby minor league (AHL) affiliate.  Portland could kill two birds with one stone by attracting Seattle’s AHL affiliate: fill the potential void left by the Winterhawks’ anticipated departure, and get the Veterans Memorial Coliseum the modernizing it needs.

Private investors saw the potential for pro hockey in Seattle, and the same group could be incentivized to do the same in Portland.  The Winterhawks consistently have the highest attendance of any American junior hockey team, drawing crowds that would be considered successful in the AHL.  Ticket prices would not increase much, if at all, but the level of play would be noticeably higher, appealing to more spectators. Beyond the likelihood of financial success in Portland, it would attract the fans from Portland to follow the parent club in Seattle.  

How can we get Oak View Group, the conglomerate behind the KeyArena renovation, to do the same here?  Tax breaks on the arena’s revenue (rather than subsidies like the Moda Center received) were all they required in Seattle to commit $600 million to the building, on top of the $650 expansion fee for the team.  Meanwhile, estimates to modernize the Coliseum ranges from $30-60 million, paling in comparison. Offering the same breaks is not only reasonable, but a good deal for the city of Portland. It would save the city the upwards of six figures it loses every year on keeping the building in operation.  Our civic leaders should explore this option to revitalize a building on the National Register of Historic Places using private investment.

Between the lack of a press box and the outdated seats, restrooms, concourse, plumbing, etc., it is clear the Coliseum needs work.  The juxtaposition between the Moda Center next door and the Coliseum is striking; modernizing the latter would make the Rose Quarter a truly world-class entertainment district.  Based on the ongoing construction of Portland State University’s Viking Pavilion, the political will to update sports venues appears to be in place in Portland. The building cost $52 million to build on a campus with a $73 million endowment, and required nearly $25 million in state bonds.  In comparison, this makes the Coliseum update seem even more like a no-brainer.

It’s entirely possible there are already gears in motion to bring pro hockey to Portland; Seattle had a wildly successful season ticket drive a few weeks ago that suggests there is far more demand in the region than anyone expected.  It’s also entirely possible the Winterhawks will either find a way to get the bill passed, or are bluffing about no longer operating in Portland. We should still consider incentivizing the remodel of the Coliseum given the opportunity.  Pro hockey is finally coming (back) to the American Northwest; hopefully Portland doesn’t get left behind. 


(cover photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Why NHL in Seattle is good for hockey in Portland

The recent progress towards the NHL expanding to Seattle has hockey fans in the Pacific Northwest excited.  Many in Portland can’t help but wonder “Why not us?” knowing that there is already an NHL-ready arena in town.  For a myriad of reasons, the NHL has always preferred Seattle to Portland (more per-capita disposable income, proximity to Vancouver, desirable corporate sponsors, etc.).  Even so, here’s why Seattle getting an NHL team is still good for hockey in Portland:

1) Seattle will need an AHL team

After the great AHL migration to California in 2015, almost all west coast teams now enjoy the convenience of having their farm team nearby.  Only Las Vegas and Vancouver don’t have their AHL affiliate within a short drive or quick flight, and neither are expected to remain that way for long.  Seattle will undoubtedly start looking for a location for their farm team, and Portland has a lot to offer in terms of existing infrastructure, potential fanbase, and ease of transportation between the two cities.  This topic will be revisited in a blog post devoted solely to why Portland makes the most sense for Seattle’s affiliate, so stay tuned.

2) Paul Allen might start seriously pursuing an NHL team

When the season ticket drive took place on March 1st, reality blew expectations out of the water.  10,000 fans put their money where their fandom is in the first 12 minutes, and they eventually received 25,000 deposits within two hours before capping it at 33,000 the next day.  The amount that went to corporations, scalpers or brokers is impossible to determine, but considering how impressed hockey pundits were with Vegas receiving 5,000 deposits in 48 hours, the drive was an undeniable success.  

Clearly the demand for pro hockey in the Pacific Northwest is high, but Paul Allen has only occasionally feigned interest in bringing it to Portland, worried it would hurt Trail Blazers’ ticket sales.  This shows how incredibly wrong he was about its potential.  Will this make him rethink pursuing an NHL team in Portland?  He’s been mum so far, but it’s only a matter of time until an interviewer brings it up to him.  Hint hint, local media…

3) Hockey fans in Portland can see an NHL game much more easily than before

Due to the lack of pro hockey in Portland, transplants make up a disproportionate amount of the local fans of the sport.  Those that moved here with a favorite team from home, or were born into a family with deep roots supporting a team will soon be able to visit nearby Seattle to see their favorite team when they play against Seattle, rather than taking a flight elsewhere or crossing the border to British Columbia.

4) Boon to youth hockey in the region

Fans aren’t the only ones in the local hockey community isolated from the game in Portland.  Travel teams for the Junior Winterhawks (i.e. the local youth hockey organization) often have to fly across the country, or drive up to British Columbia for tournaments.  An NHL team in Seattle will drastically elevate the level of competition in Seattle, the state of Washington, and the entire region.  The greater the competition, the more opportunities there are for player development locally.  More teams in Seattle willing to travel to Portland and shorter (and therefore less expensive) commutes to tournaments for local teams is important for youth hockey, which is notorious for prohibitively high costs.  More interest in the sport locally also allows for more access to second-hand gear for potential skaters.  More skaters also allows for more appropriate classifications of ability levels; players start at different ages and learn the game at difference paces.  Some will play year-round from the first time they strap on skates; others will pick it up in their teens as a casual activity in the winter.  Keeping the costs down and making the sport accessible to all income levels and commitment levels is best for everyone.  

5) Expanded media coverage of hockey

The local media in Portland covers both the Seattle Mariners and the Seattle Seahawks since there are no competing teams from Portland.  More hockey coverage will boost the sport’s visibility in the area, and the higher level of play (compared to the Winterhawks) could create fans out of people who gave it a try and weren’t engaged by the pace of the game in the WHL.  Recently, a local TV channel in Seattle started showing Canucks games to “familiarize Seattle with their newest rival”, capitalizing on the recent frenzy of hockey news.  It’s only a matter of time until KGW, Root Sports and/or NBC Sports Northwest are broadcasting Seattle’s games in Portland.


Hindsight is 20/20, and rather than bemoan what could have been, we need to consider this a step in the right direction.  Will Paul Allen or another potential owner decide to capitalize on the potential for pro hockey in Portland?  The more vocal we are in our desire, the more likely it becomes.  Spread the word, comrades!