It was a sight to behold, something we hadn’t seen in a long, long time.
The old San Diego Sports Arena was rocking, like back in the day, during the hockey hotbed days.
The San Diego Gulls are back, and the fans are fired up. a tradition that began in the building in 1966, with the original Gulls franchise of the old Western Hockey League.
There was the run of the San Diego Mariners of the WHA.
And then the reincarnation of really good hockey, first with the Gulls of the IHL, and the 5-time trophy run of the Gulls in the lower echelon West Coast Hockey League.
It’s been awhile since hockey played in the building right off Rosecrans, and the fans let the owners of the Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Hahn family, owners of the Sports Arena, know what they felt.
8,500 showed up to watch the unveiling of the new jerseys, the new colorful logo, and to hear Gulls and Ducks execs talked about the rebirth of the sport in the sunshine of San Diego.
The original Gull, the legendary Willie O’Ree, the league ambassador, returned to the Arena where he starred, before breaking the color barrier in the NHL with the Boston Bruins..
In a website, that has been up just two weeks, over 1,500 have applied for season tickets. The Ducks will embark on a $2M-investment to upgrade the locker rooms, then build a sports medicine center and weight room at a new practice rink. This after the Ducks spent $4M to buy the franchise from Norfolk.
The future stars of tomorrow, will be coming to San Diego in October to don the new colors.
Back in the day, the Gulls had great players in the old WHL-Olympic goalie Jack McCartan and O’Ree and Sandy Fitzpatrick.
The WHA Mariners brought us Andre Lacroix and Joe Noris.
The IHL Gulls triggered the career of 23-year veteran player Ray Whitney. The champion Gulls of the WCHL allowed us to see Marty St. Amour, Sergie Naumov, Chad Wagner, BJ McPherson, and so many more.
The AHL will be different. 88-percent of the NHL players on rosters this morning played in the “A”. All 100% of those enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, served time in the league as they began their careers.
Hockey is back; and style wise, it will be better than anyone has ever seen before in this town. “Go-Gulls-Go” was the chant as the 8,500 left the Sports Arena. They will definitely be back.