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AHL team stresses weekends


Bob Teck could not contain his happiness yesterday, a day after he and his partner Alan Gertner had been awarded an AHL franchise in Baltimore.

"We're very excited, very excited," Teck said from his New Jersey office. "Are you kidding me? I feel like a little kid.

"And I have to temper that because this is a business and we have to focus on putting together an organization that will be a winner on the ice for the people of Baltimore. That's what we want to do. That's what we're making plans to do."

The new -- and as yet unnamed -- team, will begin operation in the AHL this fall.

Teck said the team's name, logo and colors will be determined after an agreement has been reached for NHL affiliation.

Sources indicate that affiliation could be with the Anaheim ZTC Mighty Ducks, but Teck said that while negotiations are under way to reach an agreement for NHL affiliation, he had "absolutely no comment" on who those negotiations are with.

A spokesman for the Mighty Ducks, Rob Scichili, would not say whether the Ducks are interested in an AHL affiliate in Baltimore, but did say the team is "exploring options."

"We're taking our time making any decision," said Scichili. "We want to find the right club, the club that will work the best for the Mighty Ducks. We don't expect a decision until the off-season."

For the moment, the AHL team is operating as Baltimore Hockey and anyone wanting to get in line to purchase season tickets can do so by sending fully refundable deposits of $50 per season ticket to Baltimore Hockey, 2607 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md. 21218.

Eventually, the team will move into offices in the Baltimore Arena, where the team will play.

Teck said that, subject to league approval, the team will have 26 or 28 weekend dates that include Friday, Saturday and/or Sundays. He said most of the Sunday games will be afternoon games, because the organization hopes to attract as many families "as we can get our fingers on."

He also said he hopes to keep the ticket pricing simple, with only two or three prices.

"I've walked through the arena and had people stand around on the ice so that I can get an idea of the sightlines for hockey," said Teck, whose resume includes consulting for and building ice rinks.

"There are 12,142 seats for hockey in that arena, and most of them aren't bad and a lot of them are pretty good. To me that means you can see the sidelines and the goal line. For the most part you can.

"I know there is a perception about that building, but we're determined to do this right. We're going to have a completely new image, a clean, fresh image, tied into Baltimore, Maryland and whatever team we're affiliated with."

The new operation will bring the AHL to Baltimore for the first time since 1993, when the Baltimore Skipjacks were moved to Portland, Maine, by owner Tom Ebright, who was frustrated by a small fan base and a lack of corporate support.

Teck and Gertner are not put off by minor-league hockey's past struggles here, but are instead determined to make a new, strong beginning.

"Baltimore deserves the best we can give it and that's what we're going to do," said Teck. "By the year 2000, we could have an NHL team in Baltimore.

"The reason there are NHL teams in places like Pittsburgh and Buffalo is because they've demonstrated they could support hockey in those cities.

"We'd like to lead the charge in Baltimore. But in the interim, we're going to put the best pro hockey on the ice in the city that we can."

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