How many of you have seen the movie 'Animal House'? That's what I thought, so you remember at the very end, when a young Kevin Bacon is screaming, "All is well! All is well!"
In a way, that's what a select group of individuals have been doing over at First Arena, since last year. Before the season was even over, there was talk among the fans, and even the players about whether or not there would be hockey in Elmira. Since then, GM Matt Hufnagel, Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations Ray Schmitt, and the entire front office located within the First Arena have been working to keep hope, and the Jackals 2012-2013 season, alive.
I can understand the non stop phone calls they get on a day-by-day basis, giving updates on the situation to interested fans. At 18 Sports, we would get phone calls asking us why we didn't show Molly Huddle, as if it was us making the decision. Often times they were the targets of misplaced angry phone calls. It's obvious that Elmira loves their Jackals, but some callers and fans who were screaming at this small pocket working inside First Arena couldn't be farther from justified.
When Pat Bingham resigned, it was this group of guys, who sprung into a nationwide search. Not just for any coach, but for the right coach. While hearings continued over bankruptcy filings, the only numbers they were focused on, was the .700 winning percentage of newly hired coach, Dwight Mullins.
Their goal every day was to improve the Jackals organization for the upcoming season. They've done that by adding players even after Bingham's departure from the team.
It's hard to imagine a similar scenario playing out at any other place. A team with championship possibilities. They have some of the best players in the league, and their season is up in the air. Teams across the league could use this as a recruiting tool, yet, the front office managed to sign 6 returnees under these circumstances, including the ECHL's leading scorer.
While the walls at times must have seemed like they were leaning in, it was the front office that was propping them up.
I said that these workers were kind of like Kevin Bacon's character. While Bacon's role was screaming after things were at the peak of the chaos, Hufnagel, Schmitt, the Karpowich twins, everyone worked hard enough, that things never ventured in to chaotic territory.
If/When the Jackals do take the ice next month, remember these employees, when you're cheering in Game 1.
See you at 11,