June 14, 2011

NHL's Calgary Flames Purchase NLL's Roughnecks

from staff reports

The Calgary Roughnecks, who won the National Lacrosse League's West Division regular season title this year under the threat of financial doom, have been bought by the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames and will operate as their subsidiary, the NLL announced Tuesday.

"We look forward to building off of the great franchise that [former Roughnecks president and owner] Brad Banister and his team have developed over the past 10 years," said Flames President and CEO Ken King. "The Roughnecks provide great entertainment to the city of Calgary and we are confident we can continue the great tradition of fielding championship quality teams for many years to come."

Mike Board and Mike Moore have been named general manager and director of business operations, respectively.

Board played lacrosse in Brampton and Peterborough, finishing his competitive playing career in Junior A lacrosse with the Brampton Excelsiors. He was an assistant coach with Team Alberta (Bantam) at the 2006 Canadian national championships with current Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym. He originally joined the Flames organization in 2002 in the capacity of content manager for the Flames' Internet properties.

Moore just completed his 14th season in the Western Hockey League, where he has excelled as a regional scout, general manager and director of business operations with the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Medicine Hat Tigers. Moore is the current director of business operations for the Calgary Hitmen returning to them in 2008, where he began his full-time WHL career in 1997 as assistant general manager. He was most recently named as the 2010-11 WHL Executive of the Year. He was also athletic director for the Edge School from 2005 to 2008.

The Roughnecks entered the NLL as an expansion franchise in 2001, and recently completed their 10th anniversary season. The Roughnecks quickly built a championship-caliber franchise, winning two NLL Championships (2004 & 2009) and reaching the playoffs in nine of 10 seasons. The Roughnecks have been at the center of some memorable moments in league history. The 2004 championship game at the Saddledome was played in front of 19,289 fans in one the loudest and most electric crowd atmospheres in league history, as the Roughnecks defeated Buffalo to win their first championship. In 2005, they hosted the NLL All-Star Game at the Saddledome in a game that was televised live across North America on NBC.

Calgary went 11-5 in 2011 despite barely meeting costs and payroll. The Roughnecks relied on private donations, at times. They defeated Colorado 10-6 in a first-round playoff game before falling to Washington in the West Division final. Transition man Jeff Shattler was named the NLL's Most Valuable Player.

While featuring the world's best lacrosse players, the Roughnecks have remained true to their Alberta roots, having a knack for acquiring the province's best lacrosse talent. Kaleb Toth and Geoff Snider, both from Calgary, are two of the team's key players. Since the Roughnecks brought professional box lacrosse to Calgary, youth participation in Alberta has skyrocketed from approximately 3,000 players in 2001 to more than 11,000 players today.

"I am extremely pleased we were able to do a deal with the Calgary Flames that will ensure the Calgary Roughnecks will stay in the community that has stood by them for the last 10 years," said Brad Banister, the Okotoks businessman who was the principal owner and president from the club's inception. "Their involvement and participation means that the thousands of kids and fans which currently support the organization, as well as it's players, will continue to have something to look up and aspire to. The kids who are currently participating in the many collegiate programs, such as the NCAA, to further their education, are also paving the path for future kids to follow. With the help of the Flames, it will ensure that the game of lacrosse will continue to thrive and produce talent at a national level. This transaction allows the dream as well as the growth of lacrosse to continue to succeed in the province of Alberta."

"We are proud to welcome a great organization like the Calgary Flames to the National Lacrosse League", said NLL commissioner George Daniel. "The Roughnecks will no doubt be a showcase franchise for the NLL for years to come. I would like to thank Brad Banister and his partners for bringing the NLL to Calgary and establishing a winning tradition by earning two Champion's Cup titles over the past decade."

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