Johnstown Chiefs

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Johnstown Chiefs
Johnstown Chiefs Logo.svg
City Johnstown, Pennsylvania
League ECHL
Operated 1987–2010
Home arena Cambria County War Memorial Arena
Colors Black, gold, white
              
Franchise history
1987–2010 Johnstown Chiefs
2010–2015 Greenville Road Warriors
2015–present Greenville Swamp Rabbits
Championships
Regular season titles None
Division Championships None
Conference Championships None
Kelly Cups None

The Johnstown Chiefs were a minor league ice hockey team located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, that played in the ECHL. The team was founded in 1987 in the All-American Hockey League, and moved to the East Coast Hockey League (now "ECHL") when that league was formed.[1] The Chiefs lasted for 22 years in Johnstown, and was the last of the founding ECHL teams playing under its original name and in its original city. The Chiefs relocated to Greenville, South Carolina, following the completion of the 2010 season.[2]

Franchise history[edit]

The owners originally wanted to name the team the Jets in honor of a team that had played in Johnstown from 1950 to 1977, mostly in the Eastern Hockey League. However, the old Jets' former owners still held the trademark for the name and refused to allow the new team to use it. A contest was held by the owners, allowing the people of Johnstown to vote for the new team name. The cult hockey movie Slap Shot had been filmed in Johnstown, and featured a minor league team called the Charlestown Chiefs. The fans readily jumped on the tie-in, and the Johnstown Chiefs were born.[1]

The Chiefs played their home games in the historic 3,745 seat Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, where most of the hockey scenes in the movie Slap Shot were filmed. Despite popular belief, the Chiefs uniforms colors (black, gold, and white) were not chosen because of the local fans' connection to the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. Shortly after the emergency lease had been approved by the Cambria County War Memorial, head coach Joe Selenski traveled to Canada to find the team uniforms and called War Memorial Marketing Director Dennis Grenell at 3:00 AM to tell him that the only uniforms he could find were black and gold (similar to the Boston Bruins' uniforms of the 1970s), but he did not have enough money to buy them. Grennell agreed to pay for the uniforms using his own credit card.[3] Coincidentally, the Chiefs' first minor league affiliation would be with the Boston Bruins.

The Chiefs along with the Wheeling Thunderbirds (now known as the Wheeling Nailers) played the role of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1995 film Sudden Death starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The premise was the Penguins playing the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup when terrorists attempt to hold the Vice President hostage in the arena.

On August 17, 2007, the Chiefs announced that they entered into an affiliation agreement with the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. During the 2007–08 season, the Chiefs served as the Avalanche's secondary minor league affiliate.[4] On September 18, 2007, the Chiefs announced they had also entered an affiliation agreement with the Boston Bruins for the 2007–08 season.[5]

Prior to the 2008–09 season the Chiefs re-signed their affiliation with the Avalanche[6] and entered into an affiliation agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets, replacing the Bruins, on August 22, 2008.[7]

For the 2009–10 season, the Chiefs were the secondary minor league affiliate to the Minnesota Wild.[8] Jeff Flanagan took up the role of head coach to start the year. After leading the team to an ECHL cellar dwelling 9–19–7 record, Flanagan was fired, replaced for the remainder of the season by majority owner Neil Smith on January 10, 2010.[9]

In February 2010, the Tribune-Democrat reported that television reports from Greenville, South Carolina, stated that the Chiefs would be relocated to Greenville following the season and compete at the BI-LO Center. Greenville had previously been home to the Greenville Grrrowl, who played in the ECHL from 1998 to 2006 when the ECHL revoked Greenville's franchise rights.[10] On February 17, 2010, the league announced that the Chiefs would be relocating to Greenville after the league's Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of the move.[2] News of the relocation also made the press in New York City, including the New York Times, due to Smith being the former president and governor of the New York Rangers and former general manager of the New York Islanders. The team, renamed the Greenville Road Warriors, then became affiliated with the Rangers.

The team played their final game as the Johnstown Chiefs on Saturday April 3, 2010. The result was a 5–3 loss to the Elmira Jackals. According to a pre-game address by minority owner Ned Nakles to the fans in attendance, the Chiefs name, logo, team records and history would not follow the franchise to Greenville, but would remain in Johnstown under ownership by a non-profit group to possibly be used again should a new team enter the ECHL in the city.[11]

The Wheeling Nailers, the ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, announced prior to the Chiefs season finale that they would play 10 of their 36 regular season home games and one preseason game at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena during the 2010–11 ECHL season.

Season results[edit]

Records as of 2009–10 season.[12]

Season League Division GP W L T OTL SOL Pts PCT GF GA PIM Coach(es) Playoffs
1987–88 AAHL 26 13 13 0 26 .500 157 115 Joe Selenski
1988–89 ECHL 60 32 22 6 70 .583 295 251 Steve Carlson Lost in Finals
1989–90 ECHL 60 23 31 6 52 .433 233 291 2047 Steve Carlson Did not qualify
1990–91 ECHL East 64 32 29 3 67 .523 324 287 1646 Steve Carlson Lost in round 2
1991–92 ECHL West 64 36 23 5 77 .601 294 248 1750 Steve Carlson Lost in round 2
1992–93 ECHL East 64 34 23 7 75 .585 281 264 1647 Ed Johnstone Lost in round 2
1993–94 ECHL North 68 37 27 4 78 .573 323 308 1978 Ed Johnstone Lost in round 1
1994–95 ECHL North 68 31 32 5 67 .492 256 297 1656 Ed Johnstone Lost in round 1
1995–96 ECHL North 70 21 38 11 53 .378 249 322 2481 Nick Fotiu Did not qualify
1996–97 ECHL North 70 24 39 7 55 .392 253 354 2287 Nick Fotiu Did not qualify
1997–98 ECHL Northeast 70 23 41 6 52 .371 219 297 2118 Nick Fotiu
Scott Allen
Did not qualify
1998–99 ECHL Northeast 70 27 34 9 63 .450 218 265 1734 Scott Allen Did not qualify
1999–00 ECHL Northwest 70 33 28 9 75 .535 235 234 1959 Scott Allen Lost in round 3
2000–01 ECHL Northwest 72 28 36 8 64 .444 207 238 1865 Scott Allen Lost in round 2
2001–02 ECHL Northwest 72 39 31 2 80 .555 220 232 1688 Scott Allen Lost in round 3
2002–03 ECHL Northwest 72 28 33 11 67 .465 214 243 1700 Toby O'Brien Did not qualify
2003–04 ECHL Northern 72 45 20 7 97 .673 223 195 1491 Toby O'Brien Lost in Qualifier
2004–05 ECHL North 72 22 36 14 58 .402 191 258 1421 Toby O'Brien Did not qualify
2005–06 ECHL North 72 30 26 16 76 .527 223 243 1119 Frank Anzalone Lost in round 2
2006–07 ECHL North 72 33 33 3 3 72 .500 216 232 1179 Frank Anzalone Lost in round 1
2007–08 ECHL North 72 36 30 3 3 78 .541 235 234 1568 Ian Herbers Lost in round 2
2008–09 ECHL North 72 37 30 5 0 79 .549 228 232 1472 Ian Herbers Did not qualify
2009–10 ECHL East 72 18 43 7 4 47 .326 215 307 1385 Jeff Flanagan
Neil Smith
Did not qualify

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, SOL = Shootout losses, Pts = Points, PCT = Winning percentage, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Playoffs[edit]

  • 1988–89: Defeated Knoxville 4-0 in semifinals; lost to Carolina 4–3 in finals.
  • 1989–90: Did not qualify.
  • 1990–91: Defeated Erie 3–2 in quarterfinals; lost to Hampton Roads 4–1 in semifinals.
  • 1991–92: Defeated Erie 3–1 in first round; lost to Cincinnati 2–0 in quarterfinals.
  • 1992–93: Defeated Richmond 1–0 in first round; lost to Wheeling 3–1 in quarterfinals.
  • 1993–94: Lost to Columbus 2–1 in first round.
  • 1994–95: Lost to South Carolina 3–1 in first round.
  • 1995–96: Did not qualify.
  • 1996–97: Did not qualify.
  • 1997–98: Did not qualify.
  • 1998–99: Did not qualify.
  • 1999–00: Defeated Roanoke 3–1 in first round; lost to Peoria 3–0 in quarterfinals.
  • 2000–01: Lost to Trenton 3–1 in first round.
  • 2001–02: Defeated Peoria 3–2 in first round; lost to Dayton 3–0 in quarterfinals.
  • 2002–03: Did not qualify.
  • 2003–04: Lost to Reading 1–0 in qualifying round.
  • 2004–05: Did not qualify.
  • 2005–06: Defeated Trenton 2–0 in qualifying round; lost to Toledo 3–0 in first round.
  • 2006–07: Lost to Trenton 2–0 in qualifying round.
  • 2007–08: Defeated Dayton 2–0 in qualifying round; lost to Cincinnati 4–0 in first round.
  • 2008–09: Did not qualify.
  • 2009–10: Did not qualify.

Chiefs alumni who have played in the NHL[edit]

# Player Position Year(s) with Chiefs NHL Team Year(s) in NHL
31 Canada Scott Bailey G 1992–93 Boston Bruins 1995–97
Canada Garrett Burnett LW 1997–98 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 2003–04
Canada Shawn Byram LW 1989–90 Chicago Blackhawks
New York Islanders
1990–91
1991–92
United States John Craighead RW 1992–93 Toronto Maple Leafs 1996–97
The Bahamas Andre Deveaux C 2005–07 Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Rangers
2008–09
2011–12
Canada Benoit Dusablon C 2000–01 New York Rangers 2003–04
United States Brian Eklund G 2005–06 New York Rangers 2005–06
23 United States Matt Glennon LW 1991–92 Boston Bruins 1991–92
30 United States Scott Gordon G 1988–89 Quebec Nordiques
New York Islanders (head coach)
1989–91
2008–2010
30 United States David Gove C 2001–02 Carolina Hurricanes 2005–07
1 Latvia Arturs Irbe G 2003–2004 Carolina Hurricanes 2003–04
31 Canada Neil Little G 1994–95 Philadelphia Flyers 2001–02
2003–04
United States Raymond Macias D 2007–09 Colorado Avalanche 2008–09
United States Marquis Mathieu D 1995–96 Boston Bruins 1998–2001
Canada Brett McLean C 1999–2000 Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche
Florida Panthers
2002–04
2005–07
2007–09
17 Canada Mitch Molloy LW 1989–90 Buffalo Sabres 1989–90
26 United States Chris Mueller C 2008–09 Nashville Predators
Dallas Stars
New York Rangers
2010–13
2013–14
2014–15
Canada Doug O'Brien D 2004–05 Tampa Bay Lightning 2005–06
Canada Wes O'Neill D 2007–09 Colorado Avalanche 2008–10
17 Canada Greg Parks RW 1989–90 New York Islanders 1990–93
Kazakhstan Dimitri Patzold G 2003–04 San Jose Sharks 2007–08
44 Canada Jay Rosehill D 2005–07 Toronto Maple Leafs
Philadelphia Flyers
2009–12
2012–14
30 Canada Dany Sabourin G 2000–02 Calgary Flames
Pittsburgh Penguins
Vancouver Canucks
2003–04
2005–06, 2007–09
2006–07
8 Canada Ryan Savoia C 1996–98 Pittsburgh Penguins 1998–99
15 Canada Jody Shelley LW 1998–2000 Columbus Blue Jackets
San Jose Sharks
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
2000–08
2008–10
2010
2010–13
Canada Jason Simon LW 1990–91 New York Islanders
Phoenix Coyotes
1993–94
1996–97
1 Latvia Peter Skudra G 1995–97 Pittsburgh Penguins
Buffalo Sabres
Boston Bruins
Vancouver Canucks
1997–2000
2000–01
2000–01
2001–03
Czech Republic Radek Smolenak LW 2006–07 Tampa Bay Lightning
Chicago Blackhawks
2008–09
2009–10
Canada Grant Stevenson RW 2004–05 San Jose Sharks 2005–06
10 United States Billy Tibbetts RW 1995–96 Pittsburgh Penguins
Philadelphia Flyers
New York Rangers
2000–02
2001–02
2002–03
Canada John Tripp RW 1998–2000 New York Rangers
Los Angeles Kings
2002–03
2003–04
4 Canada Derrick Walser D 1998–2000 Columbus Blue Jackets 2001–04, 2006–07

Retired numbers[edit]

The Chiefs retired four numbers: the numbers of Don Hall, Dick Roberge, Galen Head and Reg Kent, all of whom had played for the Johnstown Jets. Former Chiefs forward Dmitri Tarabrin had his number retired by the Wheeling Nailers in December 2010, during a "split home game" played in Johnstown.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mancuso, Jim (2007), 20 Years of the ECHL, ECHL, pp. 4–6 
  2. ^ a b "ECHL Concludes Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting" (Press release). ECHL. February 17, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2010. 
  3. ^ Mike Mastovich (2007-04-24). "History of the Chiefs: 1980s - Hockey-starved Community Falls For Rough-and-Tumble Team From The Very Start". Tribune-Democrat.com. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  4. ^ "Chiefs join forces with the Avalanche". Johnstown Chiefs. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  5. ^ "Chiefs have something Bruin". Johnstown Chiefs. 2007-09-18. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  6. ^ "Chiefs renew affiliation with Avalanche". Johnstown Chiefs. 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  7. ^ "Chiefs join forces with Blue Jackets, Crunch". Johnstown Chiefs. 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  8. ^ "Chiefs join forces with Penguins". Johnstown Chiefs. 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  9. ^ "Johnstown Chiefs Fire Head Coach". WJACTV.com. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  10. ^ Mastovich, Mike (February 13, 2010). "Rumors continue about Chiefs relocation". Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved February 14, 2010. 
  11. ^ Mastovich, Mike (2010-04-04). "A sad night for Johnstown". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  12. ^ "Season-by-season records". hockeydb.com. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 

External links[edit]