Speculation that the Portland Pirates might leave Maine to replace a departing American Hockey League franchise in upstate New York is unfounded, according to a report in the Post-Star newspaper of Glens Falls, N.Y.
“We’re still in negotiations with another team (other than Portland),” Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond told Post-Star reporter Maury Thompson on Wednesday, one day after confirming that city officials had spoken with five AHL teams since last April and had narrowed their search to one team, going so far as to exchange contract proposals.
When asked to confirm the report out of Glens Falls, Pirates spokesman Chris Knoblock declined, saying, “I can’t comment on anything.”
The Pirates received a revised lease proposal from trustees of the Cumberland County Civic Center on Wednesday with a request for a response by the end of Monday. The team has played all its home games this season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston after lease negotiations broke down in August.
Brian Petrovek, the Pirates managing owner and CEO, visited Glens Falls in late October in conjunction with a Pirates game in Albany. According to the Post-Star, Petrovek toured game and practice facilities and met with city officials and business leaders.
“It was basic, smart, due diligence that any company would take advantage of at that time,” Petrovek told Chris Roy of the Maine Hockey Journal in early November. “I’m not really interested in talking about outside the Portland market. It’s job number one to remain in the Portland marketplace. It’s been that way for the past 14 years.
“We’re looking strongly within our radius because we own this territory. We’re not focused on other alternatives, but we have to keep our eye on what else is out there.”
Glens Falls was home to the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings for 20 years – all but one resulting in playoff contention – until 1999, when plans to move the franchise near Toledo fell through and it ceased operations until resurfacing in San Antonio in 2002.
A lower-level minor league team played in Glens Falls for seven years before the Philadelphia Flyers, anticipating construction of a new facility in Allentown, Pa., agreed to relocate their AHL affiliate from Philadelphia (after the Spectrum closed) to Glens Falls. That franchise, the Adirondack Phantoms, is finishing the final season of a five-year deal and plans to move to Allentown before next season.
The Pirates begin a three-games-in-three-days homestand Friday night in Lewiston, where the average attendance of 2,497 ranks last among the 30 AHL teams. The Pirates have another such three-game run scheduled for April 18-20. The unusual scheduling – not seen by them since 2010 – was done in anticipation of the team returning to a renovated civic center.
The Pirates are currently 16-25, with two of those losses coming in overtime and seven by way of a shootout, for a total of 41 points, good for a tie for 12th place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference. Eight teams qualify for playoffs, due to begin in late April.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or: