|2015–16 Portland Pirates season|
|League||American Hockey League|
|Founded||1975 (In the NAHL)|
|Home arena||Cross Insurance Arena|
Black, Red, Silver, White
|Owner(s)||Ron Cain |
|General manager||Eric Joyce|
|Head coach||Tom Rowe|
|Media||Portland Press Herald
WPEI (95.9 FM)
Maine Hockey Journal
|Affiliates||Florida Panthers (NHL)|
|Division Championships||2 (2005–06, 2010–11)|
|Conference Championships||1 (1995–96)|
|Calder Cups||1 (1993–94)|
The Portland Pirates are a minor professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League. They are the top affiliate of the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League. Their home arena is the Cross Insurance Arena in downtown Portland, Maine. The franchise was previously known as the Baltimore Skipjacks from 1982 to 1993. Previously, the Pirates were affiliated with the Washington Capitals (1993–2005), the Anaheim Ducks (2005–2008), the Buffalo Sabres (2008–2011) and the Arizona Coyotes (2011–2015).
The Portland Pirates were founded in 1993–94 as an affiliate of the Washington Capitals. The majority owner was Tom Ebright, and the other owner, GM & CEO was W. Godfrey Wood. The team was previously known as the Baltimore Skipjacks, who Wood and Ebright relocated to Maine. On August 4, 1993, forward Eric Fenton was signed to a professional contract to become the very first member of the fledgling Portland Pirates team. The Pirates replaced the void made by the Maine Mariners who departed to become the Providence Bruins a year earlier. The Capitals affiliation ended after 12 seasons in 2005.
The Pirates first season proved to be their most successful one to date, as they won the Calder Cup with a 43–27–10 record. Their next season they had 104 points but were upset in the 1st round of the playoffs. In the 1995–96 season they again reached the Calder Cup Finals, despite a sub-par record of 32–34–10, but lost to the Rochester Americans.
Since then, it has been a roller coaster ride for the Pirates. Despite an excellent 100 point season, they were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round in 1999–00.
In the 2006 AHL playoffs the Pirates went for a playoff run, only to be defeated by the eventual Calder Cup-winning Hershey Bears in a seven-game series.
In 2005 the Pirates announced a five-year lease extension at the Cross Insurance Arena, ending speculation that the team might relocate. The Pirates also signed a three-year affiliation agreement with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2005, but the Ducks announced on June 3, 2008, that they were affiliating with the Iowa Chops instead of renewing the agreement.
On February 10, 2009, the team played in Buffalo at HSBC Arena for the first time before a crowd of 11,144. The Pirates lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Albany River Rats. The Sabres faithful were pleased with the aggressive play and numerous fights during the game. It was then announced that the Pirates would play in Buffalo twice in 2009–10. The first game would be played on November 12 and the second would be March 7; both games would be against the Rochester Americans (the Sabres' then previous AHL affiliate).
On March 17, 2010, the Pirates signed a 2-year lease extension with the Cross Insurance Arena. The agreement prevented any further Pirates home games from being played outside the arena.
In May 2011, the Sabres had indicated a willingness to break from its affiliation agreement with the Pirates and reaffiliate with the Rochester Americans. The Pirates had to sign off on the agreement, since their agreement with the Sabres ran through 2014. On June 24, 2011 the American Hockey League approved the sale of the Rochester Americans, it also included the buyout of the affiliaton contract with the Portland Pirates.
On June 27, 2011 the Phoenix Coyotes announced that the franchise had entered into a five-year player development contract with the Pirates. WMTW-TV mentioned that during the announcement of the Coyotes being the Pirates affiliate that 2 of the 4 teams that were negotiating with the Pirates wanted the Pirates to change the team name and logo, but the Pirates agreed to the deal with Phoenix in order to keep their name and logo and because the Coyotes "wanted it the most".
During the 2012-13 Season, the Pirates played 6 games at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine in preparation of renovations at the Cross Insruance Arena. On April 17, 2013, the Pirates and Cumberland County announced a 5-year lease, with the option for another 5 years, to stay at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, though that has been thrown into question due to a dispute over revenue from food sales (see lease dispute section below). Due to the dispute, the Pirates played their entire home schedule in Lewiston.
The Pirates were forced to play their final game of the 2013-14 season at their 400-seat practice facility in Saco, due to the Colisée being double booked with the game and a circus. The Pirates promised refunds to those who had bought tickets for the game in Lewiston, and stated that all ticket proceeds from the Saco game would go to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland. They announced on 5/7/2014 a 1-year extension of the affiliation agreement, also a small increase in ticket prices as part of the changes the team is doing to rebuild confidence with the community. Ron Cain the new majority owner is not concerned about getting a new affiliate in 2015 with the Coyotes likely to move their affiliate closer to Glendale, due to the popularity of the Portland market and the renovated arena. 
On March 18, 2015, the Pirates announced an affiliation agreement with the Florida Panthers to begin in the 2015–16 season and that Eric Joyce, the general manager of Florida's previous AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, would take over the same position in Portland.
2013 lease dispute
In 2013, the Pirates negotiated a new lease agreement with arena trustees, but refused to sign it after they determined that the percentage of food sales they were to receive under the lease would not result in the same amount of money as previously agreed terms calling for the Pirates to get a percentage of food and alcohol sales, which was ruled illegal by the State (as alcohol sales can only be controlled by the property owner).
The Pirates then announced that they would look for another arena to play their 2013-2014 season in, most likely the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, where they were already playing the start of the season due to renovations at the arena. Arena trustees stated there would be no Pirates hockey at the arena this year and began seeking other tenants for the dates originally given to the Pirates. They further claimed to only break even on the presence of the Pirates and that their expenses would actually be less without them. The Pirates responded by filing a lawsuit against the arena seeking enforcement of the original unsigned agreement outline and an injunction to prevent the arena from reassigning dates for Pirates home games to other events.
The Pirates announced on September 26, 2013 that they would indeed play their entire 2013-2014 home schedule at the Colisée. The dates for four games had to be changed from the original schedule. A spokesman for the AHL said that the Pirates had the rights to the Portland market and could play anywhere within a 50-mile radius of the city. The Phoenix Coyotes said they were prepared to move forward despite having hoped differences with the arena would be resolved. The Chairman of the Cross Insurance Arena Board of Trustees criticized the Pirates for demanding more of a "subsidy" for themselves and stated their desired lease agreement would cost county taxpayers money. The Pirates also stated they would continue their lawsuit against the arena with the hopes of playing there in the future.
On October 24, 2013, it was announced that the team had taken out an option on city-owned land in Saco for possibly building a $40 million arena with 5,000 seats as a new home. The team stated, though, that doing so was not the cheapest option for them and that they would prefer to return to Portland.
After obtaining a majority share of the team, former minority owner Ron Cain stated on December 17 that should an agreement with arena trustees not be reached within a month, that he would consider moving the team to the aforementioned Saco land or even out of state if necessary. Continued requests for negotiation have been rebuffed by the trustees. Two days later, Cain announced that the team dropped its lawsuit and that arena trustees would resume negotiations, both seeking "to strike a balance between the team’s business needs and the arena's financial obligations" according to Cain. The chairman of the trustees stated that he found Cain's comments on the issue "constructive" and he thus was willing to restart talks.
Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, who is from Portland, announced that he submitted emergency legislation to the Maine Legislature to allow the Pirates to receive a share of alcohol revenue, as the original agreement called for. Cain said that Alfond's efforts did not play a role in their decision on the lawsuit, but could help the team going forward.
On February 4, 2014, arena trustees and the Pirates announced that a five-year lease agreement had been reached and that the team would return to the Cross Insurance Arena for the 2014-15 season. Should the team make the playoffs, it is possible they could return for those games, though Pirates ownership joked that with the team at the bottom of the division that day such a scenario was unlikely. The agreement includes the sharing of concessions revenue the Pirates sought, which may or may not include alcohol sales pending passage of Sen. Alfond's bill. Owner Ron Cain also revealed that he had explored the possibility of moving the team to Glens Falls, New York to replace the departing Adirondack Phantoms, going so far as to send CEO Brian Petrovek to Glens Falls for discussions, but that he wanted the Pirates to remain in Maine too much to do so.
The market was previously home to:
- Maine Mariners (1977–1992)
This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Pirates. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Portland Pirates seasons
|2010–11||80||47||24||7||2||103||.644||280||238||1st, Atlantic||2011||W, 4–2, CTW||L, 2-4, BNG||—||—|
|2011–12||76||36||31||4||5||81||.533||223||254||3rd, Atlantic||2012||Out of playoffs|
|2012–13||76||41||30||3||2||87||.508||230||233||2nd, Atlantic||2013||L, 0–3, SYR||—||—||—|
|2013–14||76||24||39||3||10||61||.401||222||284||5th, Atlantic||2014||Out of playoffs|
|2014–15||76||39||28||7||2||87||.572||203||190||4th, Atlantic||2015||L, 2–3, MCH||—||—||—|
Updated November 4, 2015.
Pirates Hall of Fame
Officially only #50 has been retired by the Portland Pirates. However a banner still hangs in the rafters in tribute to the 5 Maine Mariners who had their number retired before moving to Providence.
- 37 Olaf Kolzig (1993–96) Inducted 1999
- 19 Andrew Brunette (1993–98) Inducted 1999
- 34 Byron Dafoe (1993–95) Inducted 1999
- 32 Kevin 'Killer' Kaminski (1993–95, 1997–98) Inducted 2000
- 3 Steve Poapst (1993–2000) Inducted 2001
- 10 Kent Hulst (1993–96) Inducted 2002
- 30 Martin Brochu (1996–2000) Inducted 2003
- 23 Ryan Mulhern (1995–98, 1999–2000) Inducted 2004
- Head Coach Barry Trotz (1993–97) Inducted 2005
- 44 Todd Nelson (1993–95) Inducted 2006
- 31 Jim Carey (1994–96) Inducted 2007
- Owner 50 Tom Ebright (1993–97) Inducted 2008
- 26 Chris Jensen (1993–95) Inducted 2010
- 17 Martin Gendron (1994–96) Inducted 2011
AHL awards and trophies
- Goals: Michel Picard, 41 (1993–94)
- Assists: Jeff Nelson, 73 (1993–94)
- Points: Jeff Nelson, 107 (1993–94)
- Points (By a Defenseman): Marc-Andre Gragnani, 60 (2010–11)
- Penalty minutes: Mark Major 355 (1997–98)
- GAA: Maxime Ouellet, 1.99 (2003–04)
- SV%: Maxime Ouellet, .930 (2003–04)
- Career goals: Kent Hulst, 147 (1993–2001)
- Career assists: Andrew Brunette, 224 (1993–98)
- Career points: Kent Hulst, 360 (1993–2001)
- Career penalty minutes: Kevin Kaminski, 797 (1994–95, 98)
- Career goaltending wins: Martin Brochu, 79 (1995–99)
- Career shutouts: Maxime Ouellet, 17 (2002–05)
- Career games: Kent Hulst, 473 (1993–2001)
- "Portland Pirates get new owner, score in courtroom". The Forecaster. December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
- Under Wood's management and creative marketing, The Pirates led the AHL in tickets sold, sponsorships and sellouts for 3 years. id=FF8gAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hmUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3183,726195&dq=eric-fenton&hl=en Sun Journal - Pirates ink Eric Fenton - Google News Archive Search
- "Sabres to parent Portland". buffalonews.com. 2008-06-10. Archived from the original on 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2008-06-10.
- "Dineen Named Head Coach". sabres.nhl.com. 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- Dougherty, Pete (March 17, 2010). "It's Official - Pirates Sign Two-Year Lease In Portland". Albany Times Union. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
- Wawrow, John (2011-05-17). AP Source: Sabres interested in AHL Rochester. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
- "Coyotes enter into AHL agreement with Portland". Fox News. June 27, 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- "Pirates season finale moved from Lewiston to Saco". Kennebec Journal. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "Pirates announce affiliation with Florida". AHL. March 18, 2015.
- Hall, Jessica (August 31, 2013). "Civic Center, Pirates in standoff over concessions". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
- Hall, Jessica (September 7, 2013). "Pirates file lawsuit against civic center". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- Lowe, Mike (September 26, 2013). "Portland Pirates leave Cumberland County Civic Center". Kennebec Journal. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
- "Hockey group with link to Pirates looks at Saco for arena". Portland Press Herald. October 24, 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- "Portland Pirates could move out of state if lease dispute isn’t resolved soon, new majority owner says". Bangor Daily News. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "Portland Pirates drop lawsuit against civic center". Portland Press Herald. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "Portland Pirates, civic center reach lease agreement". Portland Press Herald. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- "TheAHL.com - Portland Pirates Roster". Retrieved March 3, 2015.