The Bakersfield Condors are a minor league ice hockey team based in Bakersfield, California. The team plays in the Pacific Division of the ECHL's Western Conference. The Condors play home games at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, until recently known as Centennial Garden.
Originally known as the Bakersfield Fog, the team was founded in 1995 as a charter member of the West Coast Hockey League. The team assumed its current name in 1998 when it moved into the new Centennial Garden. The Condors, and other West Coast Hockey League affiliates, joined the ECHL in 2003.
For the 2008–09 season, the Condors announced an affiliation with the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League on May 21, 2008. They became the Ducks secondary affiliate, after the Iowa Chops of the American Hockey League. In the following 2009–10 season, the Condors became the Ducks primary affiliate after the Chops were suspended from operations. As a result the Condors started the season with a handful of the Ducks prospects and finished the season first in the Pacific to capture their first division title. On July 12, 2010, the Ducks opted to move closer to their east coast AHL affiliate and cut ties with the Condors after two seasons.
Journalist Ken Baker - Played one game as goaltender for the Condors in the 2001-02 season, finishing with a win, a 5.00 GAA and a 0.857 save percentage. Baker's dreams of playing professional hockey were cut short due to a tumor that inhibited his ability to build enough muscle for the sport. His book "They Don't Play Hockey In Heaven" tells the story of his experience with the Condors.
The Condors advanced past the 1st Round of the playoffs for the first time in their history in the 2005–06 season. They defeated the Long Beach Ice Dogs in seven games. The Condors lost in the seventh game of the next round against the Fresno Falcons, making it the longest playoff run in Condors history at the time. The Condors did it again the following year, defeating Fresno, but then lost in round 2 to the Alaska Aces in four games. However, in the 2013-14 season, the Condors had their furthest playoff run in team history, getting to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the Alaska Aces in 6 games, winning 2 and losing 4.
In the 2004–05 ECHL playoffs, Condor Ashlee Langdone checked Alaska Ace Scott Gomez (who was playing that season in the ECHL due to the NHL strike) hard, sending him hip first into the sharp opening of the bench door at the exact moment the trainer opened it for a line change. The resulting injury, a broken pelvis, knocked Gomez out of the rest of the playoffs, and resulted in Langdone being given a boarding penalty and a one-game suspension. The incident drew a rather negative reaction due to Gomez' status as an NHL all star.
In March of 2011, the Condors held "Charlie Sheen Night" which garnered national media attention as one of the best promotions in minor league sports history. The night, based on the antics of the Two and A Half Men star, offered fans free admission with proof of a clean drug test, Tiger Blood Margaritas, Charlie Sheen heads on sticks, and if anyone had the money, they could buy the team for $2 million outright. That was Sheen's annual salary for the show he was eventually fired from.
In 2012, the Condors offered Canadian pop-star Justin Bieber an entry level contract, stating that "he has some hockey skills" which received worldwide notoriety and publicity.
Head coach Marty Raymond and former assistant coach Mark Pederson were briefly suspended in 2009 for an "internal matter", which was reported at the time to be due to anti-Semitic comments made by both men toward then-Condor Jason Bailey, a Jew. The team didn't publicly acknowledge the reason for the suspensions until after the season, when GM Matthew Riley stated that "all parties involved were satisfied with the action that was taken." However, in January 2011, the Anaheim Ducks, Condors, Raymond and Pederson were named in a lawsuit filed by Bailey's lawyer, Keith Fink, alleging that his client faced "a barrage of anti-Semitic, offensive and degrading verbal attacks regarding his Jewish faith" during this time with the team. On January 27, ESPN.com released details of court documents in which Fink alleges that Condors' owner Jonathan Fleisig failed to take action after being informed of the issue: promising Bailey's father that the Raymond and Pederson would both be fired, but then failing to do so. The documents also state that Raymond allegedly told Bailey his ex-wife was Jewish "and that she was a 'bitch' for taking all of his money."