Throughout the Quad-City Mallards’ 2012-13 campaign, coach Terry Ruskowski and i wireless Center director Scott Mullen have professed optimism in the direction of the franchise.
On Thursday, the Mallards took a few steps toward getting the franchise back on its feet.
The Mallards introduced former Grand Rapids Griffins president Bob McNamara as their new president and confirmed that they had extended their lease at i wireless Center for another season, assuring that the franchise will return for the 2013-14 Central Hockey League season.
“He’s by far the most qualified president we’ve ever had in the Quad-Cities,” Mullen said. “He’s a career AHL guy, and having somebody here of his caliber is just tremendous for this market.”
As he stepped to the podium, McNamara confirmed his shared belief that the Quad-Cities can remain a viable CHL market.
“I think there are a lot of positives in this market that we can build on,” said McNamara, who comes to the Mallards after spending 16 years in the American Hockey League. “I think you can always learn from the successes from years before and look ahead rather than in the immediate past. I think it’s important that we look ahead and work toward building this back up.”
Both McNamara and Mullen pointed to the CHL’s commitment to the Quad-Cities and the extension of the lease as a huge step for the franchise.
The league had previously expressed that commitment, but Mullen said that the extension of the lease gives the team an added stability now that the question of whether the team will return next year has been answered.
“It’s great to have them here next year,” Mullen said. “It certainly makes it easier to shop and court new owners that will be here long-term if we have a chance to turn things around. I think people will see in the offseason moves being made that will get us back on track. We may not want to even try to get a new owner until we get back on track.”
McNamara has spent much of the past month working behind the scenes at i wireless Center and will now move to a more visible role developing the off-ice side of the Mallards, who are currently owned by the league. The team increased its staff size by rehiring Jim Kersten as director of corporate sales, and McNamara announced new promotions for the remainder of the season.
McNamara plans to continue working closely with Mullen and his staff, a partnership he said was a key reason for his move to the Quad-Cities.
“It’s tremendous,” McNamara said. “On the first day I came in, I was amazed at how involved they were at helping to sell the product. Everything just seems different, although we had a fantastic situation in Grand Rapids. Everyone works so closely together here.”
McNamara’s hiring also resulted in executive vice president Ryan Simmons ending his tenure with the Mallards. Upon McNamara’s hiring, Simmons’ position was eliminated. McNamara said the Mallards offered Simmons a different executive position with the team, which Simmons declined.
With the off-ice saga appearing to have reached its conclusion, the Mallards should have the opportunity to properly build their team next season and utilize the experience of both McNamara and coach Terry Ruskowski.
“You’re adding a professional and a first-class person,” Ruskowski said. “His knowledge of the game and knowledge of the business world is going to be a tremendous asset. With his connections and my connections, it’s going to be a huge help for me.”