The Hamilton Bulldogs are looking forward to a season filled with a lot of excitement as they head into a year that is being called "The Best of Both Worlds".
NEW PRESIDENT FOR THE BULLDOGS
Also, the Hamilton Bulldogs lost two valuable members of their staff. Cary Kaplan, former team President, and Amelia Kaplan, Office Manger, resigned from the organization just a couple weeks before their wedding. Personally, I would like to thank both of them for their hard work over the 6 seasons they were around. Amelia came from Cape Breton with the team and Cary was the first person hired when they moved to Hamilton. They both put in near 24 hour days to get the team going and to help save the team. They will be dearly missed around the team. "The Bulldogs are moving in a new direction, with a new organization structure," said Kaplan. "I’ve accomplished my goals. It would not have been possible without the tremendous support of my staff and Hamilton hockey fans. I’m confident they will enjoy AHL hockey in Hamilton for years to come. It’s time for me to move on to other challenges."
"Hockey in Hamilton owes a lot to Cary Kaplan," said Tony Battaglia, Chairman of the Hamilton Bulldogs LP. "Last year, when the team’s future in Hamilton looked bleak, Cary organized the ‘Stay Dogs Stay’ Campaign. His efforts resulted in over a thousand new seasons tickets being sold, and a new lease with the city. Without Cary’s efforts, the team may have folded last year."
Battaglia added, "Cary initiated the process that brought the current, local ownership group together. He was instrumental in bringing the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers to the table. As a result, our ownership group was able to secure the Canadiens’ AHL franchise."
But with Cary’s departure Steve Katzman was named the new President of the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Katzman 37, a native of St. Catharines, Ontario, brings a wealth of business and hockey experience to the Hamilton Bulldogs. He was most recently the Director of Canadian Sales and Marketing for the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres. While with the Sabres, Katzman was responsible for all sales and marketing in Southern Ontario. He established the Sabres Canadian Sales Centre and supervised its entire operations.
"I’m very happy to be here and in this position," stated Katzman. "The opportunity to grow professional hockey in this community is a formidable one, but I am ready for the challenge."
Katzman added, "the Bulldogs have been active in the community in the past, but we feel that we can have an even greater impact, given our local ownership and our long term focus."
Katzman has also had great success working with Tim Hortons as a regional marketing manager, along with various other high-level managerial positions. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University and a Masters of Business Administration degree from Niagara University.
"We are very excited to have Steve as the Hamilton Bulldogs’ new president," said Tony Battaglia, the Hamilton Bulldogs LLP Chairman. "His proven experience in hockey, marketing and sales, combined with his leadership abilities, will elevate this franchise to levels never reached before."
Last year the Hamilton Bulldogs made an amazing run to the Calder Cup Semi-Finals loosing to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 7 games. The team surprised many as they knocked off Quebec City in 3 straight games in the first round then took Hartford to 6 games. The team also saw a few records fall as Brian Swanson became the All-Time Regular Season Scoring leader and goal scorer leader, Peter Sarno became the All-Time Regular Season Assists leader, Jason Chimera became the Single Season points leader with 77 points and Sean Selmser became the first Bulldog to play in all 80 regular season games.
A lot happened last season and there is a lot that is expected to happen this year. But sometimes it doesn’t go as planned.
RETURN OF FAN FAVOURITES AND THE QUEEN?
There were some hopes that with the duel affiliations that a couple fan favourite Bulldogs would be returning to Copps Coliseum but Montreal decided to send Matthieu Descoteaux and Eric Landry to Utah. Also, after the AHL schedule was set the Hamilton Bulldogs had to postpone their first two regular season home games due to the ice needing to be removed for Queen Elizabeth’s arrival to the city. The Queen was presenting new colours to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
When the Bulldogs learned that they would have to postpone their games they took it as a positive. "The Hamilton Bulldogs are proud to play a role in such an historic event for Hamiltonians, and as good corporate citizens have respected the wishes of the Heritage Minister, " stated Ron Foxcroft, Vice-Chairperson of the Board for the Hamilton Bulldogs LLP.
Representatives of the Queen contacted the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Hamilton native Shelia Copps), who in turn contacted Foxcroft. The Bulldogs organization acted immediately and through the cooperation of the visiting teams (Syracuse and Binghamton), the American Hockey League, the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers, came up with a speedy resolution, with each party respecting the prestige of such an event
"This move is full of positives, one of which is a move from the long weekend, which will please a great many of our season ticket holders," said Brian Lewis, the Hamilton Bulldogs Director of Marketing.
This season the Hamilton Bulldogs look to set some franchise marks. The ‘Dogs are 4 wins away from their 200th regular season victory, 5 goals away from their 1600th All Time goal (Regular and Post Season), and 1 shutout for their 20th Regular Season Shutout.
Some of the notable players that have been sent to Hamilton include:
Adam Dewan, Benoit Gratton, Chad Hinz, Marcel Hossa, Fernando Pisani, Jani Rita, Jarret Stoll, Jason Ward, Bobby Allen, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Alexei Semenov, Ales Pisa, Ty Conklin, and Eric Fichaud.
One name not listed is Sarno. He may not report to Hamilton. Sarno went to the Oilers’ training camp without a contract and was sent down. Hopefully a contract can be worked out so the All-Time Assists leader can return to the team.
The Bulldogs first game of the 2002-2003 AHL Season is Thanksgiving Monday in Rochester. They will then return home to play the Syracuse Crunch for the home opener on October 14th. The next night they travel to Cleveland and then back home for a game on Sunday against Grand Rapids.
Fans should also be advised that there are new start times for weekday games. Games will not start at 7:30 but a half-hour earlier to make it easier for kids to come to games weekdays and still be in bed at a reasonable time for school the next day.
For those of you that can’t make it to the Dog Pound, listen to all 80 games on the radio with the new home of the Bulldogs on 820 CHAM. Derek Wills will be back for his second season as the radio voice of the Bulldogs. He will be joined by veteran radio broadcaster Al Craig.
"I’m very excited about the upcoming season," said Craig. "I had a chance to work several games with Derek Wills last season and we hit it off immediately. People may not realize how hard Derek works at his job, although I know they hear how enthusiastic he is with his play-by-play."
Craig, 53, brings over 30 years of broadcasting experience to the Bulldogs radio booth, having spent time in Timmins, Charlottetown, St. John’s and Pembroke, as well as 23 years at Hamilton’s 900 CHML. He was also the Bulldogs first ever play-by-play announcer during the team’s inaugural season in 1996-97.
Craig added, "I’m equally pleased 820 CHAM is broadcasting the action. It’s important to have a commercial radio station in Hamilton providing full season coverage and CHAM has a great signal, which means we’ll be heard near and far. And with the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens each placing their top prospects in Hamilton, I think this is going to be a year to remember in the Dog Pound".
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with one of the most talented, and popular sportscasters in Ontario this season," said Bulldogs’ play-by-play announcer Derek Wills. "Al’s experience, dynamic personality, and knowledge and passion for the game of hockey, will add an element to our broadcasts that I am sure will keep our listeners glued to their radios this season."
NHL SEASON HAS BEGUN
As the NHL started their season 25 former Hamilton Bulldog players were on NHL team opening day rosters. This includes 3 players that were placed on the injury reserve lists prior to the start of the season.