Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates Rumor D’Jour

Paul Betit had his weekly notebook appear in today’s Portland Press Herald and I have to start the blog by saying that I love Paul a great deal. I enjoy reading his work, and talking with him on a regular basis. He’s a guy who has taught me so much about the business of writing in the media that I could never thank him enough.

But, there is a difference between Paul and I and the article really demonstrated that point because Paul doesn’t live in rumors. He lives in the reality of the present and what’s making news today, not what “could” make news tomorrow. I also cover the news of the day, but I immerse myself into the rumors trying to find the truth in them or discredit them because that’s what we, in the hockey media, do. This is what I am. I’m a member of the media, who for the most part covers hockey on exclusive basis. I’ll travel from city to city covering the Pirates for MVN or the Journal Tribune and I always make sure I take the time to shake hands and build contacts with other members of the hockey world whether its scouts, general managers, coaches, team execs or league officials. More importantly, I’ve befriended other members of the media in other cities who I can stay have become some of my best friends.

All those contacts become valued sources of information, but you have to be careful because at the end of the day everyone has an agenda they’re trying to push.

Anyway, PB and I spoke yesterday about this very story and it’s really amazing all the rumors that are swirling around for both the Pirates and Maineiacs. Some of the rumors I’ve heard and they tend to lend more credence then a run of the mill rumor and some I’ve never heard of, but you just can’t discount them because you’ve never heard of it.

Here’s each rumor PB talked about and I’ll break them down a little more in-depth.

One rumor has the Anaheim Ducks ending their three-year affiliation with the Portland Pirates and hooking up with another AHL franchise somewhere close to California.

First off, that’s not the rumor. Burke was speaking about an ECHL franchise, not an AHL franchise. Burke, who was having a conversation with a season ticket holder, was responding to a question. Whether it was banter or not, he still told the crowd that using an ECHL franchise as their primary affiliate was an option that they were considering.

Why?

Because the ECHL is already located on the West Coast and Anaheim could move to an existing team or apply for an expansion franchise to play right out of the Honda Center. From a hockey perspective, it’s foolish and a desperate move of a GM, who didn’t get his way with the AHL. The American Hockey League will never go west; they tried it in the past and it didn’t work then and it won’t work now. The league has admitted that and they’re very content with being a league that focuses primarily on the Eastern seaboard and in the Midwest.

Not to put all this on Burke, it may be the Samueli’s who are pulling the strings because if they could land a franchise in Anaheim, it does two things. One, it keeps the prospects in the Ducks backyard and two, it provides the Ducks and more importantly AAM (Anaheim Arena Management), owner of the Honda Center with another stream of revenue. From a business point of view, it makes perfect sense, but from a hockey point of view, it’s a disaster waiting to happen because nobody is going to want to play for them in the ECHL. Could somebody imagine a Bobby Ryan, Brian Salcido, Andrew Ebbett or Geoff Platt playing the Ducks affiliate in the ECHL? That would be a step backward to some of those guys who may not have chance to play for Anaheim over the course of the season. Not only that….let’s be honest the ECHL isn’t exactly a league of quality and some yahoo is going to be brave enough to want to make a name for himself and level one of the Ducks high-end prospects.

What about the Buffalo Sabres that we’ve heard so much about?

Do you remember those contacts I mentioned earlier?

In this business nobody keeps a secret, at least not very well anyway, and with all the issues ongoing in Rochester between the Sabres and Amerks, people have been singing like jaybirds that the Sabres are coming to Portland. Remember, everyone has an agenda so while the Pirates have denied the rumor, it refuses to quiet down and you have to question why.

So at the end of the day, are the Ducks going leave?

Most likely, yes because Burke has put the writing on the wall for a year an a half now. Could they go to the ECHL? Who knows, but again, Burke made the statement, we didn’t make it up.

Another rumor has a team from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League setting up operations alongside the Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

This was a new one for me. I hadn’t heard this rumor until PB mentioned it to me yesterday. To be frankly honest though I’m not that close to the Maineiacs operation where this might have originated. However, Pirates CEO Brian Petrovek did make mention that they were looking to do more cross promotion with the Maineiacs and maybe play games in each other’s building during the course of the season. Only time will tell if the Maineiacs remain viable in the City of Lewiston.

Still another rumor has the Lewiston Maineiacs, the QMJHL franchise, leaving Lewiston and replacing the Pirates at the Civic Center.

Just because I’m not close to the Maineiacs, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t hear at least one rumor about them involving Portland. There has been talk about Lewiston leaving for months and like I said, it remains to be seen if the Lewiston can remain viable, but I agree with Paul that I can’t envision the Maineiacs making the move down I-95 to Portland.

The other rumors don’t carry much merit, but they do bring to light other facts such as the Pirates and Cumberland County may begin discussions on extending the lease beyond the 2010 season, which for the fan base of the Portland Pirates would be a very good thing.

Another known fact is the QMJHL would like to have another team in the U.S., but it won’t be in Maine. They’d love to be in Massachusetts because it would secure that region for the “Q” to draft players, keeping them out of the OHL.

Just remember that rumors are to be taken with a grain of salt. There are some other media sites out there that post nothing but rumors with the disclaimer as such, but people tend to take a rumor as fact. A rumor is a rumor and nothing more; if you take them for what they are then they can provide a great insight to the thinking of the situation and provide alternate points of the view.

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