Glenn Stanford ran the St. John’s IceCaps for six years, and prior to that, the St. John’s Maple Leafs for 14 years.
©Telegram file photo
With the John Graham-Irwin Simon group on the verge of setting up a minor pro basketball team in St. John’s and, in the bargain, assumedly getting some sort of first dibs at getting a hockey franchise for Mile One Centre, where does that leave Glenn Stanford?
Just about anywhere he wants to be, says the president of the American Hockey League.
“If Glenn was willing to leave (St. John’s), there would be no shortage of offers,” said Dave Andrews.
Stanford had also spearheaded an effort at obtaining a National Basketball League of Canada franchise, but backed away when he couldn’t secure what he saw as a workable lease agreement with Mile One Centre.
However, the former chief operating officer of the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps was still actively endeavouring to secure a hockey team for Mile One, a quest that started over a year ago when it became official the Montreal Canadiens would be moving their AHL operations from St. John’s to Laval, Que., this off-season.
Still, it’s also become clear over the last few months that all plans to set up an NBL Canada franchise in St. John’s — there were, at times, three separate ones — contained a hockey component, with the hoops team acting as sort of a lead-in for a prospective acquisition of a QMJHL or some other hockey club.
If that’s what the Graham-Simon group have in mind, Stanford might have to go elsewhere for a new hockey opportunity.
Andrews believes all that would take is picking up a phone.
“I’m hoping there is a future for Glenn in hockey within that community, and although we really haven’t had the conversation, I think he and (his wife) Debbie are strongly rooted in the Newfoundland.
“Then again, he’s been successful elsewhere in hockey,” said Andrews, noting Stanford’s work as president of the Hamilton Bulldogs when that team won an AHL Calder Cup in 2007.
“I hope he’s able to do that in a way that works for him in St. John’s, but it wouldn’t take very long for Glenn to find an opportunity serve as a team president in our league, or really, any other league because he brings so much to the table.”
Andrews first met Stanford almost 30 years ago, but the two really got to know each other in 1991, when the AHL arrived in St. John’s in the form of the Maple Leafs. Stanford ran the operations of that team, while Andrews was general manager of the Cape Breton Oilers, who turned out to an early arch-rival of the AHL Leafs.
“I think what he meant to our league was what he was able to do with St. John’s right from the beginning, with the Leafs at Memorial Stadium and the move to Mile One Centre and that entire project … and Glenn played a big part in getting things to the point where Mile One was a reality and such a great facility,” said Andrews.
“When the Leafs left, he left our league briefly, but came back with Hamilton and then when the opportunity came to get the AHL back in St. John’s through the Winnipeg Jets, Glenn was instrumental in that.
“That was all about Glenn and the relationships he had built in this league. I don’t think that would have ever happened if it hadn’t been for the relationship Glenn had with (Winnipeg owner) Mark Chipman and the Jets.”
Andrews called St. John’s a “model franchise” during its time in the league, especially with regards to community service.
“And Glenn showed for 25 years that he’s always considered the interest of the league above himself, and sometimes even his own market, even though nobody fought harder for their team,” he said.
“He’s a team player and he has unquestioned integrity. As a result, he has a lot of friends in this league and throughout hockey.”
Earlier this summer, during the AHL board of governors meetings, Stanford was a special guest of the league, but Andrews isn’t referring to that get-together as a farewell.
“Glenn is one of my closest friends, if not my closest friend. We have been through a lot together in this business,” said Andrews. “He’s been at my children’s wedding. I’ve been at his. We have travelled together on vacations.
“We’ll always remain terrific friends. So, from that perspective, there’s nothing bittersweet about the end of the his current career in the American Hockey League.”