The state of Vermont is known for many things. Maple Syrup, Ski Resorts and soon Hockey. Yes, Hockey. As one of the expansion clubs entering the Federal Hockey League this season is the Vermont Wild. The team originally named the Green Mountain Rock Crushers will be the first pro hockey team in the history of the state of Vermont.
The team's General Manager J. Andrew Makal a man with FHL experience working last season with the Broome County Barons; saw potential in the state of Vermont when the Barons played an exhibition game in the Green Mountain state last season. After the Barons were moved to Cape Cod, Makal set his sights on Vermont. Makal is excited about the club and believes it will not run into the many pitfalls that a minor league hockey club have had in the past.
The team has signed a deal with the Latona Sports management to have the use of Green Mountain arena. The Arena is going under extensive renovations to make the best possible home for the team. It also gives the team a better chance at a future as they will not have to worry about where and when they will be able to play their games. One advantage that gives the Wild is that it allows the team to as Mr. Makal put it “Ingratiate itself into the community.” The team wants to be in it for the long haul and give the state of Vermont something stable and long term.
Makal believes that the team provides something that larger franchises can't and that is accessibility of players. Now the roster of players includes former Maple Leafs prospect Jean-Francois Racine along with international talent such as Ukranian winger Konstantin Kalmikov with over 700 games under his belt and Swedish Goalie Daniel Lundin. The team also features the Rustbelt boys; Center Jason O'Bannon and Zach Gallia, both of which being natives of Ohio. Also, the two Ryan's of Ryan Huggett and Ryan Rinneard minding the defense for the Wild this season.
While the team has no coach as of yet Makal has a vision for this team and has enlisted players such as former Maple Leafs Goalie Jean-Francois Racine to help shape the core of the franchise and continue its growth into a future champion. The focus of the team was to build a strong core of player and then find a coach who fits the mold we are trying to create.
This team is built on a philosophy on aggressive and teaches the players to play east coast hockey. In a league where you have the Danbury Whalers and the Brooklyn Aviators, two teams that will push you to that line and play “old time hockey” this team will have to stay aggressive and learn on the fly to keep that style up. Makal says that this team will not settle to be like the generic expansion franchises of old. Where they would be the league whipping boy and have to fight for scraps. Makal believes that this team with a solid base of talent like Kalmikov and Racine along with the young talent brought in that this team will be a contender this year and many more to come. We will just have to wait and see whether or not the wild can run free.
- Matthew Ryan is a freelance writer and sports commentator.
Since this article was written, Andy Makal has been released by the team. Please refer all questions to Graham Kirk at 802-888-0166.
This sounds like a fail before it even begins. Team moves, changes it's name and let's it's GM go before a coach is named.