By Mark Simon
Special to NHL.com
November 14, 2003
It certainly made sense for former NHL star Tim Kerr to purchase the Pensacola Ice Pilots. After all, this is a man with a wide array of interests, who also happens to fly his own plane. What better place to be than with a team whose home arena is nicknamed “The Hangar”?
“It is a pretty good fit,” said Kerr, in his first season as the team’s sole owner and president. “I like being in a situation of making your own schedule, not being in the situation of working for somebody. This allows me to be involved doing as much as I want to do.”
Kerr played 13 NHL seasons, including 11 with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he established himself as one of the League’s top scorers. He tallied 370 career regular-season goals and had four 50-goal seasons in a row from 1983 to 1987. He holds the NHL record for power-play goals in a season with 34 in 1985-86 and won the Bill Masterson Trophy after coming back from a shoulder injury to score 48 goals in the 1988-89 season.
“Looking back, the neatest thing for me was that in the mid-1980s, we felt we had a chance to win every single night,” Kerr said. “Most of the time we were successful.”
Kerr had been trying to purchase a minor league team for several years. He was involved in the early stages of negotiations for the expansion Trenton Titans franchise, but those did not to come to fruition. When he attended the last ECHL league meetings and heard that Pensacola was on the brink of extinction, he put up the money to rescue it. This league appealed to Kerr because it was a lot more affordable then trying to purchase an AHL or NHL team. He is the second ex-NHL great to try ECHL ownership in recent years, joining Hall of Famer Phil Esposito (Huntington/Cincinnati).