August 17, 2004 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL)
Columbus, GA Â– The Southern Professional Hockey League officially announced its plans for the 2004-05 season today, including the introduction of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada native Tom Coolen as League Commissioner. The 2004-05 SPHL season opens a nine-team, 56-game schedule October 29, with the regular season slated for completion on March 20. Also announced are some rule modifications that make the SPHL unique.
Coolen brings over 30 years of successful hockey coaching, playing, and administrative experience in both North American and Europe to his new post. He will provide day to day and long term direction to the new league. His experiences include coaching in the American Hockey League as well as in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 2000, he became the first coach in Canadian university hockey history to direct two different teams into the national final.
"Tom has an abundance of hockey knowledgeÂ…as well as being well respected in the hockey world,Â” says Cape Fear General Manager Kevin MacNaught. Â“This will start us in the right direction as a new league."
Over the past three seasons, Coolen has coached in the top professional leagues in Switzerland and Austria. He has been the director of both the University of New Brunswick and Acadia University hockey schools, worked as a Health Consultant with Fitness Canada, an assistant to the Director of the Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association, and Facility Coordinator with the Pan-Am Wheelchair Games. He has also participated in numerous coaching clinics in Canada and the United States including Yale and York Universities.
Coolen holds a Masters Degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Central Michigan University (1984) and a Bachelors of Physical Education from Dalhousie University (1980) in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Says Jerome Bechard, General Manager of the Columbus Cottonmouths: "Tom brings his strong hockey background and many accomplishments which gives us the leadership we need for the newly formed Southern Professional Hockey League."
The new SPHL offices, located in Columbus, Georgia, just over 100 miles south of Atlanta, are slated to officially open by the end of August. The official website of the SPHL can be accessed at http://www.thesphl.com. Contact information for league staff and officials can be found on this website, as well as important league news whenever it becomes available.
SPHL play commences on October 29 with nine member teams, with clubs located in Knoxville, TN, Huntsville, AL, Winston-Salem, NC, Asheville, NC, Cape Fear (Fayetteville), NC, Columbus, GA, Macon, GA, Jacksonville, FL, and Orlando, FL. Lakeland, FL, also has until Friday to confirm or deny their participation in 2004-05.
The SPHL will follow National Hockey League rules with a few notable exceptions. The red line will be omitted, eliminating two-line passes through the neutral zone. The point structure in the standings will also change, with all games ending with a victor and zero points awarded for a loss, whether that defeat comes in regulation, overtime, or the shootout.
Season ticket packages are available in all member cities. Everyone interested in being a part of all SPHL action this season should contact their local team office for prices and seat availability.