By John McGourty
Feb. 8, 2005
Claude Lemieux, one of the greatest Stanley Cup Playoff performers of all time, is returning to the sport as the president of the new Phoenix Roadrunners franchise which will begin play in the ECHL next season.
Lemieux brought the idea to Sun Legacy Partners, an experienced sports-franchise ownership group that includes Robert Sarver and Jerry and Bryan Colangelo. Sun Legacy Partners owns the NBA Phoenix Suns, the Arena Football League Arizona Rattlers and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury. They also operate the America West Arena, where the Roadrunners will play.
“I’ve been looking at minor-league hockey for two years and I wanted to stay involved with hockey,” Lemieux said. “I hadn’t really looked at the Arizona market because I didn’t think we’d have the opportunity to play in the America West Arena until I spoke with Bryan Colangelo six or seven weeks ago. They saw how serious I was about bringing minor-league hockey back to Phoenix. They were interested immediately. That was a pleasant surprise and it snowballed from there.”
“We’re committed to making this a success,” Sarver told the Arizona Republic. “By bringing in a person of Claude’s experience and reputation, we are making a big statement about the type of hockey operation we intend to run.”
The Colangelos have built a wonderful reputation in over two decades of sports-team ownership, but Sarver may not be as well known nationally to sports fans. He is one of the nation’s most successful bankers, rising from a teen-aged clerk in his father’s bank to the chairman and CEO of Western Alliance, a bank holding company with $2.1 billion in assets. He is also a very athletic 42-year-old who has participated in some of his teams’ activities, kicking, catching and passing footballs, dunking off a trampoline and dancing with the cheerleaders. As a result, Sarver has become very popular with fans.