Posted by radiojones on January 29, 1998 at 08:23:42:
YANKS PLEDGE TO FIND BEST OF BRITISH
Big-time American ice hockey arrived in London last night with a promise to
discover and develop the best of British talent.
Britain's Ice Hockey Superleague confirmed the award of a franchise to the
owners of NHL giants Los Angeles Kings.
The new team, as yet unnamed - London Kings is only one of the possibilities
being considered - will take the ice at a revitalised Docklands Arena at the
start of the 1998-99 season in September.
The arena is to undergo a rapid #7million refurbishment, including ice rink,
new seating areas and luxury suites.
Anschutz Sports Holdings, majority shareholders in Los Angeles Kings, unveiled
their plans at a launch at the American Embassy in London's Grosvenor Square and
pledged that the capital's first ice hockey team for 30 years would not be used
as a feeder or "farm" team for their big brothers in California.
Bob Sanderman, President of Anschutz Properties and a governor of the NHL,
said: "We expect to stock the team in the way that all the other teams here are
stocked - firstly with Brits where we can find them, secondly with other players
from the European Union and then to some extent with players from North
"But we will not be stocking this team with players from the LA Kings or its
farm system. It wouldn't make sense.
"Our young players have to play in the American League and we need them
available in a couple of hours if somebody gets injured. It wouldn't be fair to
take players out of London and fly them back to LA.
"Having said that, we must maintain quality on the ice and if all the players
were British we would not be doing that."
Sanderman and Chris Hunt, managing director of ASH, have seen Superleague
matches at Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield and Basingstoke in recent weeks.
"It's competitive and it's pretty good," said Sanderman. "But I would like
to see more British players. That's one of the challenges this League is
acknowledging and it creates a better fan base for us."
Hunt is already looking at candidates for the all-important role of coach, but
an appointment is unlikely before the end of the British season.
Sanderman is considering a contest to find a name. He said: "It needs to be
one we can work with and give a lot of promotion to. I wouldn't rule out the
Kings, but it's not top of my list."
Ian Taylor, Superleague chief executive, said the arrival in London of such
major players as Anschutz was a huge boost to his efforts to find an overall
Taylor said: "With a London team we will have that much more opportunity to
create openings for a sponsor.
"Since news of this launch leaked out I have had several approaches and while
I don't envisage being able to name a headline sponsor within three or four
weeks, I am confident about finding one in time for next season.
"I'm really looking for a marketing partner to piggy-back the Superleague.
But if a sponsor came along with #3million cash down I would happily take it."
London last witnessed ice hockey on November 30, 1968, when Wembley Lions beat
Paisley Mohawks 3-0.
One fan looking forward to the sport's return to the capital is Conservative
Party leader William Hague, who said that until now he had been unsure whether
to support Sheffield (nearest his birthplace), Cardiff (his wife's home city) or
Newcastle (closest to his home).
Mr Hague said: "It's good news for the sport and good news for Londoners. The
investment will provide a welcome boost for jobs and businesses in the East
"The Conservative Party is keen to encourage the development of all sports,
not just the most profitable or popular and I welcome the growing success of
such an exciting sport."
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