2003 - 2004
July 22, 2004
Hockey team's final impact: Generally bad
Starting with their coach and including their investors, the Generals have left a financial and emotional void.
BY LARRY KEECH
GREENSBORO - When the ECHL terminated the Greensboro Generals' franchise Tuesday after a five-year run, the loss of the hockey team left a void in the lives of a number of local residents who had invested time and emotion in the sport.
Foremost among them was Rick Adduono, the coach who turned the Generals from a losing team into a winner the last two seasons and spent much of his time since the end of the 2003-04 season trying to keep the team afloat. Since May 31, when his contract with the city of Greensboro expired, Adduono hasn't been paid for his efforts.
"To be honest, I'm frustrated and upset," Adduono said Wednesday. "After putting in two hard years building and maintaining a winning team, I think I worked as hard as anybody to save it. I spent a lot of hours on it, fought through a lot of obstacles and played an important role in bringing prospective ownership groups to the table. I was frantically on the phone, trying to help make something happen.
Rick Adduono, the former Generals coach, is unemployed with no immediate prospects.
Photo Credit - The News & Record
"Even though I wasn't receiving any pay whatsoever the last two months, I felt secure, because I was told there was going to be a team here no matter what. But I'm not blaming anybody for what happened. A lot of factors were involved."
Adduono said he passed up at least four coaching opportunities while trying to secure his ties to Greensboro and its hockey team.
"I'm second-guessing myself," he added, "but I'm a loyal, hard working guy who got burned."
But Wednesday, when Adduono and his wife, Melanie, celebrated her birthday, he found himself still unemployed and on the job market with no immediate prospects.
"That's a great birthday present," he said sarcastically.
Adduono found himself looking for a coaching job in the short term while still hoping he might figure into long-range efforts to bring an ECHL or AHL franchise to Greensboro in 2005-06 and beyond.
"I believe I'm a proven quantity as a coach, and I'm hoping to come up with something," he said. "... On the other hand, I know there are people out there with the interest and resources it will take to put a team in Greensboro. If that situation arises, I'd be more than willing to accept a two- or three-year (coaching) commitment.
"If I see any light, I'll hang in there. I'd rather stay here than move. In my mind, there should be a team here in Greensboro."
Bill Black and Don Brady, the local businessmen who leased the Generals' franchise from original owner Art Donaldson a year ago but failed to assemble a viable ownership while the city and Greensboro Coliseum managing director Matt Brown ran the team during the 2003-04 season, expressed regret over the team's demise.
"It's a sad day for Greensboro, not just the hockey fans," said Black, who headed the local group that owned the AHL's Carolina Monarchs from 1995 to 1997. "It's sad to see the coliseum become the largest building in the country without an anchor tenant."
Black declined to comment on the $200,000 that he and Brady owe the city because they have been added to a list of defendants in a lawsuit filed by former Generals coach Jeff Brubaker over Brubaker's terminated contract.
Black indicated, however, that he might be interested - in joining an effort to bring hockey back to Greensboro after the lawsuit is resolved.
"This (the Generals' loss) might turn out for the best in the long run," he said. "If the right (hockey) opportunity comes along, it would be good to get off to a clean start with no politics involved."
Added Brady: "I hate to see us not have hockey in Greensboro with such good facilities and the growing interest at the youth level."
For a number of fans, the Generals represented more than a five-year investment in terms of time and interest.
Pro hockey had been a fixture at the coliseum for 33 of the last 45 years, dating back to when the building opened in 1959, although no team played here from 1978 to 1989.
Cindy Jones, the president of the Generals' booster club, is one such fan.
"I've been going to hockey games at the coliseum since '59, when I was just a baby," Jones said. "My husband and I went to games on dates before we lost the team in '77.
"We were hoping somebody would pull a rabbit out of the hat this time. It's discouraging. I'm angry.
"Some of us are going to an ECHL booster clubs meeting next week in Trenton, N.J. We'll stop in each state and buy a lottery ticket. Maybe we'll win enough to buy a team."
Contact Larry Keech at 373-7080 or firstname.lastname@example.org