Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

      
  1. #1
    buccoray61's Avatar
    Status : buccoray61 is offline
    Rank : The Elite
    Join Date : Oct 11, 2009
    Posts : 3,885
    Threads : 691
    Last Online : Apr-03-2017 @ 06:56 AM

    Default Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    Real-life Chiefs leaving JohnstownEmail Print Comments 6Share82 retweet7Associated Press

    JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- In the 1977 cult hit movie "Slap Shot," when player/coach Reggie Dunlop learns his minor-league hockey team will fold, he boosts player morale by planting a phony story in the local paper: The Charlestown Chiefs are moving south.

    And now, 22 years after they were founded in a moment of inspiration from the film, the real-life Johnstown Chiefs really are moving to Greenville, S.C.


    [+] EnlargeHulton Archive/Getty Images
    The late Paul Newman, left, starred as player/coach Reg Dunlop in "Slap Shot," a film inspired by the real-life minor league team in Johnstown, Pa.
    But the move is doing anything but boosting the morale of this gritty town, where the economy and its people never recovered from the steel industry meltdown of the 1970s and the last of three titanic floods.

    The movie, starring Paul Newman, was shot in Johnstown as a barely disguised homage to the beloved Johnstown Jets. The team folded the year the movie was released, after floodwaters damaged ice-making equipment at the team's riverside arena.

    The Johnstown Chiefs were founded in 1988, and a succession of owners has labored to keep the team alive, largely because "Slap Shot" stoked interest in the city's tragicomic love affair with what the movie called "old-time hockey."

    "'Slap Shot' was a big factor in me, personally, having the team here, owning the team," said majority owner and head coach Neil Smith, 56, who played for the New York Islanders' farm system. "I was fascinated by that: the original building, the small town, the whole thing."

    Formerly the general manager who led the New York Rangers to their last Stanley Cup championship in 1994, Smith bought the cash-strapped Chiefs in 2002. He promised not to move them for at least two seasons but sought a local buyer sentimental enough to keep the team in town and rich enough to write off the team's perennial losses.

    (Movie irony: The rich owner in "Slap Shot" folded the team as a tax write-off.)

    Trouble is, hockey in rough-and-tumble Johnstown, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, sells better on DVD these days. Now, Smith's pipe dream is selling out the team's farewell game Saturday at the 4,001-seat arena, built in 1950.

    Despite a top ticket of $14 and no seat more than 15 rows from the ice, the Chiefs have only 900 season ticket holders and appeared lucky to draw two-thirds as many fans on a recent Wednesday night. Smith needed 2,700 fans each night to break even.

    The Chiefs have rarely been a winner and, reportedly, never a moneymaker. What's unclear is whether a rebound is on the horizon.

    The movie was set in the fictional Federal League. But a Federal League also exists on paper and hopes to begin play in the fall with a team in Johnstown, commissioner Don Kirnan said.

    Smith's minority partner, attorney Ned Nakles, is selling his 10 percent share but forming a nonprofit to retain rights to the Chiefs name, logo, records and statistics -- just in case.

    Given Smith's battles with various partners (he's suing one group for $300,000 in allegedly unpaid bills) and a rugged economy, it's surprising the Chiefs have lasted as long as they have.

    Living amid that economic reality is Bill Felix, who owns a candy store down the street.

    "Eleven dollars, seven dollars, seven dollars ... ," he drones, ticking off sales figures for recent days, recounting chilly nights spent in a sleeping bag in the back room of his run-down store.

    Bad news? Sure, but it's the Chiefs' move that brings tears to his eyes.

    "The first day [I heard of the move], I was in a lot of depression - more than the business, the recession, you know, the non-important things," he said with a wry smile. "Losing the Chiefs, you couldn't go any lower than what was happening in the world."

    But Smith, who named himself head coach to save time and money when his predecessor left this season, hasn't been cast as the villain.

    "I can stand there behind the bench, if you can imagine, and I've never had a negative word said," Smith said. "That's a real credit to the people of Johnstown."

    That includes Scott McLachlan, who has run Scott's By Dam Bar, the city's unofficial game-day hangout, for 18 years. Fans from both sides pack his tavern before and after home games, and he feeds most opposing teams. Thankfully, the mortgage is paid.

    "I'm gonna lose probably about 30 to 40 percent -- between $80,000 and $100,000 a year I'm gonna lose" when the Chiefs leave, McLachlan said.

    Reg Kent and his wife, Barbara, are game-day regulars.

    Kent inspired Paul Newman's Reg Dunlop character, and taught the actor how to use a hockey stick. Kent was the Jets' leading scorer for several of his nine seasons in the 1960s and 70s, when players were local matinee idols.

    "I started back in '65 when the town was vibrant: The mills were working around the clock; the mines were 'round the clock," Kent said. "There's been a pretty big change here in this town.

    "It's just kind of a slow death."
    I'm a very casual hockey fan. I attended a Chiefs game about 13 years,it was really a good time. They had very passionate fans,who weren't afraid to say what was on their mind
    Are these morons getting dumber or just louder-Mayor Quimby

  2. #2
    Palmetto Steel's Avatar
    Status : Palmetto Steel is offline
    Rank : Legend
    Join Date : Oct 9, 2009
    Posts : 23,379
    Threads : 3263
    Last Online : Nov-30-2015 @ 06:36 PM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    Yea... This news was actually released a few months ago, but the hold-up was the negotiations with the folks at the "Bi Lo Center" in Greenville. The sticking point was the amount of revenue from concessions, parking, etc... Greenville used to have a minor leage team (the Growl) a few years ago, but they left, and the Bi Lo Center was basically a brand-new building not being used for anything... I was pretty excited when I first heard because my folks live down there and thought we'd get to a few games... But with things happening as they did, that just will not happen.

    It will be interesting to see how it works out, because the line of thinking down there is that the ticket prices will have to increase dramatically just for them to cover their costs... Guess we'll see.
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

  3. #3
    GeoPittsburghFan's Avatar
    Status : GeoPittsburghFan is offline
    Rank : Major Leaguer
    Join Date : Oct 11, 2009
    Posts : 1,030
    Threads : 5
    Last Online : Mar-04-2016 @ 08:57 AM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    My family went to the last game. Pretty sweet (w/ a little emotion involved). Never thought they would leave Johnstown, but they had issues with low attendence the last few years.

    I got a picture of the last Johnstown Chief goal on my phone. If I can get it off and post it here, I will. I think SteelReign would appreciate it.

  4. #4
    Beezy's Avatar
    Status : Beezy is offline
    Rank : Legend
    Join Date : Oct 11, 2009
    Location : Pig Hill
    Posts : 10,074
    Threads : 82
    Last Online : Nov-10-2016 @ 07:09 AM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    Yeah I heard about this a while ago. Surprised it didn't get much attention. I guess the Hansons were just too old to ride one more time I heard something about the Nailers are going to play some home games there now. That might have been in the article I didn't read it!

  5. #5
    norm632's Avatar
    Status : norm632 is offline
    Rank : Waterboy
    Join Date : Apr 8, 2010
    Location : 9 miles from I.U.P.
    Posts : 147
    Threads : 2
    Last Online : Jun-03-2011 @ 07:25 AM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    I have a few different friends that live around J-town, but I was extremely surprised that every person I asked about going to a Chiefs game with, they all said "Screw that, they suck so badly I'd never pay to go to a game".

    I agree it's very sad that they moved, but quite frankly, Johnstown isn't a dying city, it's a dead city; and the team had basically zero support from the local area. The owner went above and beyond what most people would do trying to keep the team there.

  6. #6
    Beezy's Avatar
    Status : Beezy is offline
    Rank : Legend
    Join Date : Oct 11, 2009
    Location : Pig Hill
    Posts : 10,074
    Threads : 82
    Last Online : Nov-10-2016 @ 07:09 AM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    Quote Originally Posted by norm632 View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    I have a few different friends that live around J-town, but I was extremely surprised that every person I asked about going to a Chiefs game with, they all said "Screw that, they suck so badly I'd never pay to go to a game".

    I agree it's very sad that they moved, but quite frankly, Johnstown isn't a dying city, it's a dead city; and the team had basically zero support from the local area. The owner went above and beyond what most people would do trying to keep the team there.
    That is kinda ****. I actually wish Pittsburgh had a minor league squad because I can't afford to go to Penguins games I guess there is plenty of amateur hockey in town if I really wanted to see some live hockey...

  7. #7
    norm632's Avatar
    Status : norm632 is offline
    Rank : Waterboy
    Join Date : Apr 8, 2010
    Location : 9 miles from I.U.P.
    Posts : 147
    Threads : 2
    Last Online : Jun-03-2011 @ 07:25 AM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    Quote Originally Posted by Beezy View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    That is kinda ****. I actually wish Pittsburgh had a minor league squad because I can't afford to go to Penguins games I guess there is plenty of amateur hockey in town if I really wanted to see some live hockey...
    There's always Bobby Mo. Apparently Robert Morris put in a bid to have the Frozen Four be held at the Consol Energy Arena sometime in the next few years, 2013 maybe?

    The Student Rush program still saves me with the Pens... I got to 4 games this year, which is pretty good for me. Back in the suckitude years of Kelly Buchberger, Matt Bradley, Steve McKenna, Fata, Koltsov, et al. I could get to 15-20 games a year with Student Rush, and get seats in Section B 90% of the time.

    As for Johnstown, I hate to sound like a hard-***, because I knew the P.A. announcer and I know there's a couple bars that will be hit VERY HARD by this, but that place has no one to blame but themselves. If it weren't for Memorial Hospital and UPJ, I don't know where ANY major employment opportunities would come from. It's D-E-D dead.

  8. #8
    Beezy's Avatar
    Status : Beezy is offline
    Rank : Legend
    Join Date : Oct 11, 2009
    Location : Pig Hill
    Posts : 10,074
    Threads : 82
    Last Online : Nov-10-2016 @ 07:09 AM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    Quote Originally Posted by norm632 View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    There's always Bobby Mo. Apparently Robert Morris put in a bid to have the Frozen Four be held at the Consol Energy Arena sometime in the next few years, 2013 maybe?

    The Student Rush program still saves me with the Pens... I got to 4 games this year, which is pretty good for me. Back in the suckitude years of Kelly Buchberger, Matt Bradley, Steve McKenna, Fata, Koltsov, et al. I could get to 15-20 games a year with Student Rush, and get seats in Section B 90% of the time.

    As for Johnstown, I hate to sound like a hard-***, because I knew the P.A. announcer and I know there's a couple bars that will be hit VERY HARD by this, but that place has no one to blame but themselves. If it weren't for Memorial Hospital and UPJ, I don't know where ANY major employment opportunities would come from. It's D-E-D dead.
    I didn't even know they still did the student thing. I haven't heard about it in quite a while. I figured with all the sell outs now they didn't need it. That is good to hear even though I am not a student anymore. The one time I did see the Pens it was on the discount. Had to be 93 or 94.

  9. #9
    GeoPittsburghFan's Avatar
    Status : GeoPittsburghFan is offline
    Rank : Major Leaguer
    Join Date : Oct 11, 2009
    Posts : 1,030
    Threads : 5
    Last Online : Mar-04-2016 @ 08:57 AM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown

    I still have family in the area. Yes the Johnstown area is dying. I'm not going to say it's completely dead yet (just don't want to think my hometown is dead), but it's looking like that is going to be the direction Johnstown is heading.

  10. #10
    GeoPittsburghFan's Avatar
    Status : GeoPittsburghFan is offline
    Rank : Major Leaguer
    Join Date : Oct 11, 2009
    Posts : 1,030
    Threads : 5
    Last Online : Mar-04-2016 @ 08:57 AM
    Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo Sports Logo

    Default Re: Real-life Chiefs leaving Johnstown



    By the way, this photo is the last Johnstown Chiefs goal scored. I was lucky to be at the game with family. I was about a half second late on getting the photo with the shot.

Quick Reply Quick Reply

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Members who have read this thread: 0

There are no members to list at the moment.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •