The St. Charles Chill, the newest organization in the Central Hockey League, held a press conference this afternoon to unveil their jerseys for the 2013-2014 season. They also introduced the first three players signed by the club, forward Kyle Kraemer, forward Jordan Fox, and defender Tony DeHart.
Jim Wiley, the Director of Hockey Operations, was in attendance today and spoke about the team coming to St. Charles. “It’s very exciting to be here. The Central Hockey League is always evolving, and I can honestly say we at the league office are very excited to be here in St. Charles, Missouri. We are excited for hockey returning here.” said Wiley.
After praising St. Charles, Wiley continued on praising the Chills front office. ” When you have the caliber of individuals involved with the St. Charles Chill, from the ownership, to Mr. Brent Thiessen and his staff, Patrick Armstrong and Head Coach and General Manager Jamie Rivers, you’re in for a real treat.”
Team President Brent Thiessen took the podium next. He started off thanking those who made bringing hockey back to St. Charles possible. The list included the St. Charles mayor, Sally Faith, and her staff, Mark Reifsteck, the General Manager of the Family Arena and he arenas staff. He thanked the league, season ticket holders, and members of the media.
He went on after stating, “We are absolutely thrilled to be the newest members of the CHL.” That was easy to see on the faces of the staff and players in attendance. There was a buzz in the air and excitement from everyone in attendance.
He touched on what he expects of the team as well. ” Not to put any additional pressure on Coach Rivers, but you can expect to see a very competitive product on the ice. We believe this is a fantastic hockey market. We hope to be great partners with the St. Louis Blues, who do an amazing job of promoting the game of ice hockey in St. Louis. We hope to introduce many people to the game of hockey and provide a great value for the families in St. Charles and the surrounding region.”
Team Vice President Patrick Armstrong introduced the clubs theme for the season, ‘Fell The Chill’. He also released important dates for the Chill and their fans in the coming months;
- August 17th-18th -”Select a Seat’ for season ticket holders to pick their seats for the season.
- August 23rd-25th -’Making the Cut’ tryouts for free agent players who would like a chance to make The Chill’s roster.
- October 19th – The St. Charles Chill take the ice for the first time for their home opener in their inaugural season.
Armstrong also announced a contest to name the team mascot, which has yet to be revealed. General Manager and Head Coach Jamie Rivers then revealed the clubs jerseys for their first season in the CHL.
Coach Rivers took the podium next with much enthusiasm. He first addressed the start of the team. “I don’t think anything could be more exciting as they are right now. We established ourselves as a franchise a year ago and here we are now with the pedal to the medal. We are working very hard to get things done to tie up loose ends, put together this hockey team, and get things going here.”
He thanked Brent Thiessen for his promotion to general manager and touched on being able to hand pick his players as well as coaching them.
“I wanted to build a very good foundation. I didn’t want to come out of the gate and not have a culture.” Rivers stated “I wanted to bring in players who exemplify leadership, as well as talent. I want a winning culture here. Winning does always mean getting the W at the end of the night. It means coming to work everyday, even when the chips are down, and giving everything they’ve got. I believe the character side is just as as important as the talent side.”
Next, Rivers announced the first three players in the Chill’s history. Forward Kyle Kraemer, forward Jordan Fox, and defender Tony DeHart. All three players are natives from St. Louis.
Forward Kraemer, 28, was the first player announced by Rivers. A St. Charles resident, Kraemer expressed his excitement for playing at home. “I’m very excited to be here and to play here. I haven’t played at home in over ten years. I’m excited to play for Jamie here, he’s a great guy who has a lot of connections. We are here to play for a championship and I look forward to seeing how it goes this year.”
It was forward Jordan Fox who was announced second. Fox, 28, is a veteran with experience in the American Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, and captained the Nottingham team in the United Kingdom League. He touched on playing for the Chill, “It’s truly an honor to be one of the first players signed here. As a kid it’s a dream to play for the Blues, but this has to be the next best thing.”
Defender Tony DeHart, the youngest of the three at 23 years old. DeHart is a former 125th round pick of the New York Islanders and a former London Knight of the Ontario Hockey League. He’s an offensive defender who will be relied upon to produce on the blueline and on the powerplay.
Wrapping up the press conference, Rivers opened the floor for questions. I asked him how important it was for them to bring hockey back to St. Charles.
He responded, “I think, ever since this arena was built, we had the River Otters here. They’ve now been gone for a long time and the arena was just sitting here. There were a lot of people who forgot the arena was even open. Mark Riefsteck did a great job keeping it open and now we can bring a team back here. The support here from St. Charles county, the surrounding area, and as well as St. Louis city. I believe this opportunity was here ready to go.”
Jamie touched on the CHL as a whole being a developmental league. “It’s obviously a league where guys have been overlooked or are late bloomers. Sometimes the scouts aren’t always right and they miss the ball on some guys. These guys are scratching and clawing to get to the next level. For us, the next level would be getting to the AHL. So guys out there will be ready to do what they have to do to get to the next level. If that’s scoring goals, they’ll light the lamp as much as possible. If that’s hitting or fighting, I’m going to tell them to do what they do best.”
Today was truly a great way to reach out to the fans and was a stepping stone needed to get ready for the upcoming season.