Lost in the whole drunken debauchery of the Washington Capitals Stanley Cup victory, the Black Bears Sports Group made another impressive move. If nothing else, they could be the biggest movers and shakers of this offseason and it just barely begun. Not just for the expansion team in the NAHL being brought to Odenton– but this move is huge.
On Friday, Murry Gunty– the CEO of BBSG– and BBSG has purchased half of the ownership stake of the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, buying the stake from former NHLer Troy Loney and his wife. Bruce Zoldan and his family will keep their half of the ownership, but Gunty made a move to put former NHLer Keith Primeau as vice-chairman of hockey operations.
If nothing else, BBSG has done a helluva job when it comes to building not only the brand across the mid-Atlantic, but also to make sure their NAHL team is going to be leading players to success. We mentioned earlier in the year about the Maryland Black Bears having a feeder system through Team Maryland and the Mercer Chiefs– but now they have a team that players can be fed to in the Phantoms. Maybe not directly, but will have a better chance to actually make the USHL in that situation and give more of the Black Bears a chance at trying out for the USHL.
This goes to show that when I spoke to Ryan Scott earlier that the BBSG is going to grow hockey in the mid-Atlantic (and now Ohio Valley) region and have a pipeline of talent be able to stay in and around the area rather than shuffle off to somewhere else. And to buy up the assets they are putting in their portfolio is a great way to grow the game, but to also make sure the players have a place to play and that people in the area have a place to go towards.
Now, how that translates on the ice remains to be scene. It’ll be a big task for them to make an expansion team successful on the ice and in the box office– but with the recent success of the Vegas Golden Knights, maybe they can take off that formula to create a success for all aspects of the team from the ice to the pay-window.