Long Beach Ice Dogs
|Long Beach Ice Dogs|
|Home ice||Long Beach Sports Arena|
|Based in||Long Beach, California|
|Championships||1997 IHL finals Against the Houston Aeros
1998 Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Wolves
1996-1997 and 1997-1998 Western Conference Champions
|Colors||Navy blue, gold|
Isaac Bash, M.D.
The Long Beach Ice Dogs were a professional ice hockey team. They played until the end of the 2006–2007 ECHL season.
The Ice Dogs trace their origins to the San Diego Gulls, a team in the now-defunct International Hockey League that began play in 1990. In 1995, the team moved north to become the Los Angeles Ice Dogs. Due to poor attendance at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, the team was on the move again after just one season, this time to Long Beach, California, where it retained the "Ice Dogs" name. In 2000, Barry Kemp, the television executive who had become the team's owner, withdrew the team from the IHL and moved it to the West Coast Hockey League, where it remained until the league was folded in 2003 by the member clubs, which were then admitted into the ECHL at the behest of owners who had interests in both leagues. Kemp had sensed, correctly, that the WCHL was about to fold. The Ice Dogs played in the 1997 IHL finals against the Houston Aeros.
The team played at the Long Beach Sports Arena, just one hundred yards from Long Beach Harbor. In 2005, it was forced to play first-round ECHL playoff games in the HealthSouth Training Center, owned by the Los Angeles Kings, when the Long Beach facilities were being used as garage space for the Champ Car Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach during the ECHL playoffs.
In the summer of 2006, Kemp sold the Ice Dogs to a new investment group led by Chicago businessman Ted Foxman. The new ownership group had plans to keep the team in Long Beach. The future of the team there had been uncertain because the Ice Dogs typically had the lowest average attendance in the ECHL. The owners also plan to promote boxing cards at the Long Beach Arena.
Suspension of operations
On April 20, 2007, the ECHL announced the suspension of the team's operations, citing an item from the league's recent board of governors' meeting: "Long Beach owner (executive partner) Ted Foxman informed the Board that the Ice Dogs would not play in Long Beach Arena in 2007–08." The ECHL added that the team's status would be clarified at the league's next meetings in June.
Team co-owner Steven Bash told the Press-Telegram that the team was simply losing too much money for it to continue operations. Bash added that the Ice Dogs were negotiating a buyout of the remaining five years of their lease with Spectacor Management Group, which operates the Long Beach Arena.
On June 18, 2007, during the ECHL Board of Governors Annual Meeting, the Ice Dogs membership in the ECHL was immediately terminated due to the Long Beach ownership group being unable to continue to operate in 2007–08.
- NHL goaltenders Manny Legace and Nikolai Khabibulin played for the Long Beach Ice Dogs during their pro careers. Jaroslav Modry, Mark Hardy, Jaroslav Halak, Domenic Pittis, Patrik Stefan, and Patrik Augusta also spent some time with the Long Beach Ice Dogs.
- At the time the team folded, it was the ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins of the NHL, after spending the previous several years as an affiliate of both the Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks.
- For two seasons the concrete beneath the ice at the Long Beach Arena was a light blue color, stemming from a previous sponsorship with the airline JetBlue. Because of this the blue lines on the ice were actually painted yellow, but were also marked by blue lines on the dasher boards. In addition, the creases in front of the goals were white instead of the typical light blue, since the rest of the rink was light blue. After the airline left as a sponsor team officials decided to leave the ice blue because it reflected less light than the normal white concrete during television broadcasts. The arena's ice has since been returned to the typical white color.