The new president of the Sarnia Sting wants the franchise to reconnect with the community.
Bill Abercrombie made the comment at a news conference at the Hive Bar and Grill at the RBC Centre to announce his appointment, as well as the appointment of Nick Sinclair as team general manager.
“We will continue our school visits, we’ll be in the hospitals, we’ll be at special events and our players will be accessible to the public,” said the former director of hockey operations and assistant coach with the Sting, now in his 11th season with the club.
“I think it’s obvious that we’ve lacked in that area in the past, but that will change,” he said. “I can guarantee you that.”
Abercrombie says bonding with the community is especially important with the team celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
“We plan to honour a lot of past players that have played for the organization,” he said. “We have many initiatives that I don’t want to give away right now, but I can tell you this will be an exciting year for the Sarnia Sting.”
Sting Owner/Governor Rob Ciccarelli said he is handing the keys to the organization over to Abercrombie, who is now fully responsible for both the on-ice and off-ice product.
“We know Bill very well and trust him to take this hockey club where we want to go,” said Ciccarelli.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve been able to do for the community, but one area that we’ve lacked, and we’ve lacked consistently, is to be a premier team in our league on the ice,” said Ciccarelli. “We have to do better.”
He said ownership is tired of losing.
But, the new general manager has conceded that turning the ship around will take some time.
Nick Sinclair said his vision is to grow the team through experience and the draft.
He expects the Sting to be a contender by the 2016-17 season.
Sinclair has signed a three-year deal with the Sting, while Abercrombie is still ironing out the specific details on his contract, including its length.
Mark Glavin retains his position as assistant general manager.
Meantime, two Sarnia Sting draft choices have been chosen to attend the Team Canada Development Camp for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Jakob Chychrun, the first overall choice in the April draft, and fourth round selection Jake O’Donnell, will attend the camp from July 29-August 5 in Calgary.
Chychrun recently signed with the Sting, while O’Donnell remains unsigned.
– Barry Wright