By Brian Jennings
READING, Pa. — From a hockey fan perspective, 2004-05 was not a typical hockey season. To some, no hockey season existed. Some hockey fans, especially in NHL cities, might not have known hockey was being played right in their own back yard.
But those who follow the sport knew where to go. Ask a Flyers fan in Philadelphia where to find a hockey game this past season and a Phantoms game would be offered. Heck, it was not that hard to find the Phantoms since they play across the parking lot in the Wachovia Spectrum, or in some occasions, like during the AHL playoffs, they played hockey where the big boys usually skated around the rink in the Wachovia Center.
While Phantoms fans watched their team go on to win the Calder Cup, about 30 minutes away up Route 95, the ECHL Trenton Titans won a cup of their own: The Kelly Cup.
Another season has come and gone, and the ECHL had yet another tremendous season. It was not typical, this year without the NHL. But ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna saw attendance records set across the league, and received some much needed attention, as well as some much deserved acclaim, further enhancing the ECHL’s role in the hockey world. The ECHL lived up to the billing as hockey Premier “AA” Hockey League.
McKenna came to the ECHL from the Trenton Titans where he served as president and general manager from the team’s inception until prior to the 2002-03 season. McKenna was named ECHL Executive of the Year following Trenton’s inaugural season in 1999-2000. Before he joined the Titans, McKenna was executive vice president and general manager of the AHL Carolina Monarchs.
Prior to joining the Monarchs, McKenna served as director of hockey operations for the NHL Ottawa Senators from 1992 to 1994, and has been involved in hockey since 1980 for numerous teams at various levels.
ProHockeyNews.com recently spoke with the commissioner to get his perspective on this past season, and about the current and future state of hockey.
PHN: Give us your perspective on this past season?
McKenna: “Our on-ice product was the best ever. We had a lot of good young talent and a lot of parity which led to some great regular season divisional races and a very exciting playoff. Attendance was up by about 2.5 percent. This marked our second consecutive attendance increase. On balance I would consider it a successful season.”