Let’s get one thing straight about the contest to name Portland’s new minor league hockey franchise.

“The team name will not be Hockey McHockface or anything like that,” said Adam Goldberg, vice president of business operations for the ECHL franchise that’s scheduled to begin play at Cross Insurance Arena in October 2018. “We have some liberty in making sure the name is appropriate to the region and something we can take pride in.”

After announcing a contest to name the team Thursday morning on the floor of the arena, Goldberg joined half a dozen other speakers, all wearing ECHL hats and gripping hockey sticks, on a makeshift stage. He said it is important to seek public input for a franchise that will follow the Portland Pirates (1993-2016) and Maine Mariners (1977-1992), both members of the American Hockey League, which is considered a rung above the ECHL and one below the National Hockey League on the ladder of professional hockey.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what ideas people have for us,” he said. “I want to make sure it’s not some guy coming in and saying, ‘All right, here’s the team name,’ and shove it down their throats. This is a first step for showing the fans that they have a say right from the get-go.”

Fans can submit suggestions for the name at PortlandMaineHockey.com, the team’s website, by Aug. 14. Five finalists will be announced Aug. 17, followed by a popular vote.

“This is your hockey team,” Goldberg said. “We want a name that showcases the region, the hardworking people of Portland, and represents a competitive team on the ice. The name will show the spirit of the team that embraces its community, and one whose community embraces it in return.”

Entrants must be at least 18 years old and residents of Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts. The winner will receive four season tickets for the 2018-19 campaign and a team-signed jersey, and will take part in a ceremonial puck drop on Opening Night. Should there be multiple submissions of the winning name, a random drawing will determine the lucky fan.

Goldberg was one of six speakers at Thursday’s event, designed to introduce the new franchise’s management. The others were Paul Holmgren and Danny Briere of the Philadelphia Flyers (who will run the team), ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna, Cross Insurance Arena trustees Chair Mitch Berkowitz, City Manager Jon Jennings and CIA General Manager Matt Herpich.

Goldberg is the only employee of the new franchise who is now living in Maine – he just moved to Portland’s Back Cove from Connecticut, where he worked for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. He grew up in New Jersey and went to college in Arizona, and has worked for several minor-league operations in baseball and hockey.


Comcast Spectacor, parent company of the Flyers, purchased the ECHL’s Alaska Aces with plans to move the troubled franchise to Maine to fill the void left by the Pirates, who were sold in May 2016 and relocated to Springfield, Massachusetts. Aces owners announced in February that they would fold their franchise because of mounting financial losses.

Spectra, a subsidiary of Comcast Spectacor, counts the arena formerly known as the Cumberland County Civic Center among the more than 300 public assembly facilities it operates in the United States, Canada and Singapore.

That synergy between arena and team management resulted in unanimous approval of the sale and relocation by the ECHL Board of Governors at its most recent meeting, according to McKenna. The league commissioner said he first discussed the possibility with Holmgren and Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott in November.

“The more we got into those conversations,” McKenna said, “the more evident it was that they understood the market, they had an appreciation for the history and the tradition that’s here, going all the way back to the fact that the Flyers were affiliated with the Mariners back in the ’70s. And with their association with the building, they wanted to make sure it’s successful. Having a hockey tenant that’s committed for the long term, that’s part of the community, was very important to them.”

Holmgren asked several former Mariners for advice and support of the new franchise, and several showed up for Thursday’s press conference.

“We stick together,” said Frank Bathe, 62, who made a home in Scarborough after a 10-year playing career that included parts of three seasons with the Maine Mariners. “We’re very excited. This is a first-class organization and they’re going to do it the right way.”

Bathe said lowering ticket prices is an important step so that families can afford to come to games. The Pirates charged $18 for single-game seats in their final season.

“That’s something that we know is very important, so we’re taking our time with that,” Goldberg said of ticket prices. “We want to have a kids’ price. We want this to be a family-friendly environment, and the last thing we want to do is price out our fans.”


The team also announced that it will start accepting deposits for season tickets on Sept. 1 and will make every effort to allow former ticket-holders of the Pirates to keep their same seats. The team also plans to hire front-office staff and has posted openings for directors of ticket sales and marketing.

“We’re probably not going to hire a coach until April or May,” said Briere, 39, a former Flyers player now working as vice president of hockey operations. “Right now, it’s mostly about setting up the front office the right way and, I guess, repairing ties with the community. We want to do things right and let people know we’re here for the long haul.”

Holmgren, who declined to reveal the purchase price of the Alaska franchise, said building a roster will come later, as will an affiliation with an NHL parent club. The Flyers already have an ECHL affiliate, in nearby Reading, Pennsylvania.

“We’re willing to go it alone if we have to,” he said. “That’s another thing that’s tough to do now, because anybody who has an affiliation with a team now is not going to all of a sudden sidestep that deal they have.

“We’ll be patient. We’ll figure it out.”

The Boston Bruins, the NHL team closest to Portland, have an ECHL affiliation with the Atlanta Gladiators that began in 2015 and this winter was extended for two more seasons.

“Regardless of how we go,” Holmgren said, “we’ll have a good team here.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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