The Hub City games are concluded, and it was a resounding success for the entire USPHL and specifically for the Florida Eels. Quite frankly, many folks doubted the USPHL would even get off this season. Not us with the league office. In fact, we started our season right on target. We will completely finish our season 44 game schedule. That is absolutely incredible! Richard Gallant had to vision, and he chartered this ship through turbulent waters indeed. In the face of 2020 – with unrest and Covid 19 shutdowns he found a way to allow our players to play hockey and realize their dreams and do it safely and with caution.
As a league office we looked in the face of 2020 and took action. We accomplished two incredible combines, while others canceled events. We helped our teams filled their rosters with maximum players. Unprecedented. We implemented the toughest Covid 19 protocols to protect our players and coaches, practicing with abundance of caution. We mandated covid testing of all teams on systematic and continuous basis. These measures had considerable cost to teams but as a league we were willing to pay the price if that was what it took to forge forward. When hiccups occurred, we did not just canceled games, rather we caucused and discussed options and strategized and we shifted and repositioned games, so the players and teams got to play - always being mindful that safety of our players and coaches was of paramount concern.
When states closed and things seemed dismal, Richard Gallant had the vision and foresight to come up with a solution. Let’s not accept a pause or cancelation of the season. He did not just theorize – he put action into the game plan. This required inordinate planning and time was against us, but he made it happen. He created the Hub City Event. He did not just make it available to the NCDC teams. He opened it up across the board to the NCDC, Premier and Elite. He did not limit it to the Northeast, he made it available to the entire league be it California Midwest Florida and the Northeast.
An event that brought 30 NCDC, Premier and Elite teams to Florida that allowed us to continue our league. It was developed and crafted with the strictest of rules and protocols. It was not easy for players parents’ coaches and administrators. Oh no it was an incredible endeavor that required the emphatic cooperation and discipline of 600+ players, league personnel and officials from across the USA. It was the integration of a ½ dozen rinks, busses, vans, hotels and most of all Saddlebrook resort . And the games went off seamlessly. As the new Commissioner Bob Turow joined on board, it was his job to take the torch and run with it; to keep the ship on course. To oversee the arrival and departure of 600 players, the dozens of daily games, practices, meals, busses etc. of daily operations of the event. And that was a herculean effort to keep the cohesion of this event intact. Phenomenal. Although the Hub City was not a pure bubble it was akin as close as we could accomplish with the number of participants. Think about it 30 teams and 600 players playing in over 6 venues virtually every day. Moreover, the league was able to host multiple all-star games that were showcased worldwide. For the Premier and Elite players this was the first time they had an All-Star event in over 10 years. And it was done right with all the trimmings.
For the Eels it was simply the best event we ever participated in. We been a member of the USPHL from the very beginning and that says a lot. The Premier team went 8-0 and the Elite team went 6-3. Very impressive. The Eels competed against teams from New Jersey New Hampshire Connecticut Maine Massachusetts California and New York. Where else could you get these types of games at one location. It was the rich experience of playing so many quality teams. The funny thing is no body was focused on the notion that they were here because their states were on pause, it was all about playing hockey at the highest level. Everything was first class from the officials to the announcers and broadcast operations. Never before have we played against such a wide variety of teams throughout the entire league. There were representatives from virtually every Division in the USPHL.
Through this, the Eels also competed in its two annual showcases. First in the Winter Showcase at Hertz Arena and second in the Charleston SC in games vs the Hampton Road Whalers, the Charlotte Rush the Carolina Hurricanes the Richmond Generals the Potomac Patriots while still competing against its Florida Division rivals the Florida Jr Blades the Tampa Juniors the Atlanta Madhatters and the Carolina Colonials
We thank the league for hosting the Hub City, for giving us this year of hockey. When the entire world was going through such turbulence and upheaval our players had so much to look forward to and experience the game they love. What an incredible job Thank you