The gist of the Sarnia Sting are sold news is there is a commitment to the city and hockey fans, if not entirely one to the hockey people who have authored a feel-good story for the often hard-done-by franchise.
The Sting, which the Ciccarelli family put up for sale last season, have been purchased by a group consisting of former NHL defenceman Derian Hatcher and Ottawa Senators forward David Legwand, who each starred in the league. That's surely welcome news to Sting's core fans, whose patience has been stretched beyond a breaking point by the chronic inability to win the playoffs (three playoff series wins in 20 seasons). Hatcher, who's involved in youth hockey in the Detroit area, is promising to be a "hands-on owner."
What's notable is that the announcement left it open-ended with regard to the future of the team's brass such as coach Trevor Letowski, assistant coach Andy Delmore and first-year general manager Nick Sinclair. That trio has helped Sarnia, despite moving star defenceman Anthony DeAngelo to Sault Ste. Marie and having injuries to young first-round picks Jakob Chychrun, Nikita Korostelev and Pavel Zacha, stay a strong fifth in the OHL's Western Conference.
The sale requires OHL approval.
From Terry Bridge (@ObserverTerry)
“Derian and David have made that commitment,” Rob Ciccarelli said.
Hatcher, who said he intends to be a hands-on owner, has a home in Marine City, Mich.
“We’re looking very forward to this. We’re a local group. I know it’s a big thing, (but) we have no issues with moving the team. We’re not moving the team,” Hatcher said. “It’s never been thought of, never been talked about, and I know that was very important to Rob and Larry.”
As for the current coaching staff and management team, Hatcher said they aren’t looking to come and change anything this late in the season, but will evaluate the situation in the future. (Sarnia Observer)
Hatcher's brother, former NHL defenceman Kevin Hatcher, works closely alongside another big-league alumnus, Pat Peake, in the Detroit Honeybaked midget program. It is fair to point that new owners typically want to install their own people. It also bears saying that Letowski, Delmore and Sinclair have delivered more than what was expected from the Sting this season after it finished in the OHL cellar in 2013-14.
The payoff for the Sting could be immense. Obviously, Sarnia hasn't been able to turn the benefit of being close to the U.S. into winning results that same way that the other southwestern Ontario franchises in Kitchener, London and Windsor have done over the years. Derian Hatcher would certainly have a base of contacts that could benefit the Sting, while simultaneously making the team more attractive to prospective Ontario players.
Ultimately, a playoff success-starved franchise usually needs a change at the top in order to sell hope to skeptical fans. That proved to be the case in the aughties with both London and Windsor, although Sarnia is working in a smaller market.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.