Two seasons in for the Steelhounds

11 04 2007

Last night the Youngstown Steelhounds, despite their weekend rebound, were knocked out of the CHL playoffs with a 6-1 loss to the Colorado Eagles. It may be the first round, but to me that isn’t too bad. It’s great they made the playoffs in only their second season, and its also very good news they have the CHL MVP in Jeff Christian.

So as the ‘Hounds enter the off-season, many changes will come about. Players will switch teams, coaches may leave and hopefully general manager Joe Gregory will stay put, and they won’t face a merry-go-round of GM changes. But the biggest, most dramatic change of all could possibly be a change of scenery: it is an ongoing struggle, but owner Herb Washington is trying to move the team to the ECHL .

This is a move I whole-heartedly endorse. Never minding the fact the CHL is owned by ‘that company in Arizona’, the Steelhounds are geographically much better suited for the ECHL.

Think about it a moment. Youngstown is the only CHL franchise east of the Mississippi River, and half the league is in Texas alone. And with Global’s plans to build arenas in states like Arizona, New Mexico and Washington, the Steelhounds will continue to take west coast roadtrips and play home games in relative isolation from the rest of the league. So why don’t we admit the Steelhounds have no true rivals in this league, or at least no opponents we can get excited about. I mean, unless we all start sending really bad vibes to the Gulf Coast of Texas, I doubt there will be anything at stake emotionally the next time the Steelhounds play the Corpus Christi Rayz. Or the teams in Laredo, Odessa or Oklahoma City for that matter. Every team in the league is just too far away for anyone here to truly get excited about, and thus teams just play hockey without everyone in the arena’s emotions running high, which partially takes the fun out of sports I believe.

The ECHL, on the other hand, has a chance to be the opposite for the ‘Hounds. True, this league features teams as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska, but there are also six teams between Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia (locations being Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton, Johnstown, Reading and Wheeling). These cities aren’t Cleveland or Pittsburgh, but they’re close enough to make me interested when they come into Youngstown. Further, the team can at least advertise Cincinnati, Dayton or Toledo as our “in-state rivals”. Emotions might not change that much, but at least the ‘Hounds wouldn’t be isolated from every other team. That and Youngstown could be playing in hockey’s “premiere AA league”. It’s a matter of opinion of course, but the CHL doesn’t boast it.

Problem is, this transition isn’t a reality. Washington is being held up in the courts by the CHL, and for the time being can’t switch. According to a reliable source, the CHL wants something in return for Youngstown’s departure, namely an ECHL team. There is a Texas ECHL team based in Beaumont, and the CHL is also considered “AA”, but they may not be willing to move, nor might any other team for that matter. It’s an on-going process, and not much media attention has been given to the case, something that’ll likely stay unless a great development comes soon. But with the start of another hockey season about six months away, plenty of time has been left for updates and dealings, so like every other development in Youngstown, we’ll have to wait and see…

Famous Mortimer


Score one for the pro-yo’ers

7 04 2007

It may be an online-only feature, and it may only mention two blogs, but’s  headline this morningis about Phil Kidd’s “Defend Youngstown” project and the larger movement who “uses the internet to promote Youngstown” (example, this blog you’re reading right now).

The story centers around Kidd, and I’d say he deserves it, because he’s been steadily making a name for the city (and by extension, himself) by selling “Defend Youngstown” t-shirts, about 7000 of which have been sold and have been worn by the likes of Jay Williams, Ted Strickland, Tim Ryan and Kelly Pavlik. He talks about the positive he sees in the city, and his ambitions to spread the pro-Youngstown movement everywhere he goes and to one day be a city prosecutor. Janko of I Will Shout Youngstown is also interviewed.

True, this story is basically a profile of Phil Kidd and what he does to promote the city, but the Youngstown Blogosphere has finally gained recognition from the local “mainstream media”.  Hopefully, we’ll all benefit from this press coverage. More people will check out Phil’s Defend Youngstown sites, which by extension also link to most of the Youngstown blogs, so hopefully more people will start finding out there’s a lot to love about this city, and our community can grow even larger.

One more note, ThunderWatch has been updated. And GO ‘HOUNDS!!!

-Famous Mortimer

Downtown Continues to be Revamped!

7 04 2007

Over the last 5 years, downtown has been in a transformation mode into an entertainment destination in the Mahoning Valley. People now actually have the choice of going to Boardman or downtown for their entertainment on the weekends. If they want to go to the movies, they have to go elsewhere; but if they want to go see professional arena football, downtown is the way to go.

Five years ago, downtown was a GHOST TOWN. Today, there is more and more people downtown every night for different events at the Chevrolet Centre, to have a drink at one of the many bars, or to see a show at the beautiful DeYor Perfoming Arts Center. There are new buildings being put up, such as the 7th District Court of Appeals, the Mahoning County Children’s Services Building, or the future Youngstown Technology Center.

This is great progress, but a lot of work still needs to be done. There are still quite a few dilapidated buildings down there and there still is a lack of residential units; which are coming next year in the Reality and Wick Buildings.

What I’d like to see downtown is better signage, such as this sign to the right, which is prevalent in

Downtown Pittsburgh. The red represents YSU, the blue downtown, and the green Smokey Hollow; which is one neighborhood with a plan to get things done in the next 5-10 years. I think it would look nice in downtown and gives the visitors a direction of where they are at and where they need to go.

What I’d also like to see is an exploration into the idea of a riverwalk. Now it would be hard considering 2 railroads run parallel on each side of the Mahoning River, but I’m sure it’s possible. I think the creation of speciality shops and restaurants along the river, right next to the Chevy Centre would create a bright atmosphere, and make people think they were in a major city.

These are all ideas we need to consider, and I’d love to hear from you on your own thoughts.