From the Stands
By Paul Osborne
The Guelph Storm never saw it coming.
It was announced last week that the Guelph Minor Hockey Association had signed a new deal with the University of Guelph to have their travel teams wear the Gryphons name, logo and colours for the next five years, ending a 14-year agreement with the Storm.
“We were very surprised,” said the Storm’s director of business operations, Matt Newby. “More than anything we are just disappointed that we weren’t given an opportunity to negotiate or match what the U of G had offered.”
Results from a small, informal poll of minor hockey players wearing Storm gear at Friday night’s game was not in favour of the move.
They all admitted they loved wearing the Storm logo, with some unsure of who the Gryphons were.
“At a meeting in June they were looking at doing more with us and we said we’d be open to that when the current deal ends this year,” said Newby.
“They came back to us in December to ask us to send them some details, which we did, and then they said they were going in a different direction. (I asked them) – We’ve been doing this for 14 years didn’t they think they owed it to us to at least talk about it? And they said ‘We’re not negotiators.’”
And that was that.
Phone messages to the Gryphons athletic department were not returned before our print deadline, but athletic director Tom Kendall, in a university media release earlier said: “It gives us another great opportunity to engage with the Guelph sports community.” It also allows them to push their brand throughout Ontario in the hopes of increasing awareness and possibly helping in the recruitment of future varsity athletes.
Kendall goes on to say that “We hope that we can help their young players develop and in turn we are excited to have them and their parents watching our Gryphons as they strive to win a national championship.”
It will be interesting to see if that wish comes true. Currently very few in the community attend Gryphon hockey games. The brand of hockey is strong, featuring many ex-OHL players, however the prospects of making the NHL are almost certainly dead. Fans of junior hockey love to think that some day they will be watching Storm players in the NHL.
Will young junior Gryphons and their parents be clamouring to see the university games now just because they have their logo on their game shirts? It is doubtful, but only time will tell. We were unable to contact GMHA president Chuck Nash for his comments on the matter.
It is a great move for the Gryphons who will have their brand now appearing in rinks across Ontario and beyond.
For the Storm, it is a loss from a branding perspective but this early it is hard to assess just how the loss will be measured in dollars and cents.
For the GMHA, you have to figure that they have received a better deal and possibly even money up front that they can use to help lessen costs for future parents of rep players.
From the Land of Oz . . . The Storm outshot Windsor 47-15 Friday but lost 3-1. It wasn’t as lopsided as it sounds because Guelph never really stormed the net to take advantage of second and third opportunities. Sunday they went to Windsor and whipped the Spitfires 6-3. Tyler Bertuzzi had two goals and Andrey Pedan three assists. Robby Fabbri who had one assist and missed on a penalty shot was named the game’s first star . . . The Storm has a huge game Wednesday as they host Kitchener at 7 p.m.) A win will move them one point behind the Rangers who currently hold down fourth in the conference and home ice advantage if the playoffs were to start now.