By Spencer Head, Staff Writer
While the millionaires fight over percentages and the hopes of an NHL season dwindle away, the most important thing to do as a hockey fan in Northern California is to remember that being a fan of hockey does not only mean being a fan of the NHL.
With convenient timing, the San Francisco Bulls made their ECHL debut this season, playing in the same arena that the San Jose Sharks played in during the first two seasons of the franchise, the Cow Palace in Daly City just outside of San Francisco.
The last time the Cow Palace had a hockey team was the San Francisco Spiders, a part of the now-extinct IHL, for one season (Assistant Coached by “F-bomber” Bruce Boudreau). Hopefully, with the growth of passion about hockey in the greater San Francisco Bay Area in combination with the 2012 lockout, the Bulls will emerge as a much more successful franchise.
Even though their record is less than stellar to say the least, tallying 3-8-0-2, so far in their inaugural season, the games are exciting and hey, it’s hockey.
Recently, there has emerged an increased incentive for Sharks fans to attend Bulls games. Ryane Clowe, Sharks star Left Winger, signed with the Bulls on Monday, November 6th. While he originally signed with the team to stay in physical and mental shape, when asked about whether he’ll play in a game, Clowe says, “I’m not ruling it out.”
Clowe is not the only NHL player who has, in light of the lockout, transferred their business to the ECHL. 25-year-old Edmonton Oiler Theo Peckham, who has 156 NHL games under his belt, also signed with the Bulls on November 5th.
Clowe and Peckham will definitely fit into the heavyweight atmosphere of the ECHL, with a combined 870 PIM in 551 NHL games. They’ve faced off against each other before as well.
It is reported that both Clowe and Peckham traveled with the Bulls to Ontario, California in their series against the Ontario Reign, the team that former Shark Devin Setoguchi signed with. Setoguchi scored 2 goals in a Bulls 7-0 Loss.
Whether or not Clowe plays soon or at all, there are plenty of other NHL players that will be playing in the Bulls’ arena with other ECHL teams, including the Blue Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky and Montreal’s prominent non-goal scorer Scott Gomez both with the Alaska Aces.
The NHL may not have a pulse, but the AA minor hockey is live and well. In these tough times, hockey fans must move on, be optimistic, and remember that the sport is what we love, not the NHL. Even though the Bulls may not have the same attraction as a Sharks game, fights, hits, excitement, and the satisfaction of a live hockey game are guarantees.
Stay optimistic, my friends.