1994 Entry Draft
Entering the 1994 PHL draft, young power forward Randy McAllen was highly touted as the top prospect. Both expansion clubs Dallas and Cleveland hoped to get the first overall pick and a chance to select the 50-goal scorer first overall. Unfortunately for both teams, the Seattle Grey Wolves won the draft lottery and happily took the big center with the first pick, anchoring their offence for years to come. After the Stingers took Chris Cassidy second, Cleveland made Russian sensation Alexei Stepanov their first-ever draft pick. At number six, the Dallas Desperadoes selected rugged forward AJ Vernon as the first draft pick in their franchise history. Other interesting picks included Washington’s Jakob Olsen, the first Danish player in PHL history, and Edmonton’s Jeff Reed, the son of former PHL forward Ed Reed.
1. SEA – Randy McAllen, F, CAN
2. PIT – Chris Cassidy, F, CAN
3. CLE – Alexei Stepanov, F, RUS
4. WPG – Taylor White, D, USA
5. NS – Petr Horak, F, CZE
6. DAL – AJ Vernon, F, CAN
7. CAL – Ryan Lockhart, D, USA
8. STL – Mats Haglund, F, SWE
9. OTT – Eric Gilliard, F, CAN
10. BOS (From DEN) – Scott Rose, F, USA
11. DET – Andrei Levkin, D, RUS
12. MIA – Jason Murphy, F, CAN
13. MIL – Thomas Suchy, D, CZE
14. KC – Blair Horton, F, CAN
15. LA – Eric Hunt, D, USA
16. LI – Jyrki Raisanen, D, FIN
17. WSH – Jakob Olsen, D, DEN
18. VAN – AJ Devries, F, CAN
19. PHI – Dustin Cole, F, USA
20. QUE – Patrice Gamache, F, CAN
21. EDM – Jeff Reed, D, CAN
22. MIN – Simon Brassard, D, CAN
23. MTL – Aaron Pogue, F, CAN
24. BOS – Jarkko Nikula, F, FIN
25. CGY – Trevor Simms, D, CAN
26. NS (From TOR) – Viktor Holmqvist, G, SWE
27. NYC – Bryan Briggs, D, USA
28. CHI – Vincent Lavoix, F, CAN
Emmett Blake, D, CHI, 1974-1994
Although Emmett Blake was never a very flashy player, that didn’t stop him from being a fan favorite in the Windy City for 20 years. His sound defensive play and work ethic endeared him to the Chicago fans and made him one of the most difficult players in the league to play against. Blake won two Lewis Cups with the Shamrocks, in 1983 and in his final season in 1994.
Dennis Aguilar, F, NY, PIT, DET, 1974-1994
One of the toughest players ever to don a Civics’ sweater, Dennis Aguilar put fear in opposing defenders for 20 years, 14 of which were spent in New York, where Aguilar was one of the most players ever to play for the Civics. Aguilar also spent three years in Pittsburgh and three more in Detroit before returning to the Big Apple for one last season in ’93-94.
Pascal Renaud, G, WPG, LI, QUE, 1975-1994
Pascal Renaud may be one of the most underrated goaltenders of all time. Playing much of his career with a struggling team in Winnipeg, Renaud avoided the spotlight yet was probably the only reason the Pioneers ever reached the playoffs. Renaud caught his big break in 1987, when he was signed by the Long Island Concordes. Renaud won his first and only Lewis Cup with Long Island in 1990. He eventually signed with his hometown team, the Quebec Nationale, where he played the remainder of his career.
Ron Borden, F, CGY, MTL, 1975-1994
Borden played a key role in the Wranglers ascent from struggling through the 70s to claiming the Lewis Cup in 1981. In 1987, Borden signed with Montreal, where he won his second championship in 1992, proving to be a valuable mentor to young superstars Vincent Ducharme, and Sergei Vetrov.
Jani Kaaleppi, F, DEN, 1975-1994
One of the first big Finnish stars in the league, Kaaleppi brought the fans in Denver out of their seats with his speed and skill. At 37 years old, he will now return to Finland to finish his career.
Calgary trades D Elliot Andrews to Kansas City in exchange for F Roni Laukkanen.
In perhaps the biggest trade of the summer, the Wranglers significantly upgrade their now-stacked offense. Andrews joins his fifth franchise in a ten-year career to add depth the Twisters’ blueline.
California trades F Ilya Severov to Long Island in exchange for D Doug Lyons.
The Nuggets part with one of their young star forwards to add veteran depth on defense. Long Island, no longer true contenders, get younger up front.
Cleveland trades F Rex Hull to Toronto in exchange for F Brett Wilson
Cleveland gets a younger player in Wilson who can help them in the future while Toronto fan-favorite Hull has an opportunity to play out his entire career with the Racers.
Key Free Agents
Karl Magnusson (VAN) signs 5-year deal with New York worth $3 Million/year.
The Civics now boast one of the strongest bluelines in the league with the addition of 30-year-old Magnusson.
Tim Craft (NS) signs 3-year deal with Quebec worth $1.5 Million/year.
The exodus from Halifax continues as tough winger Craft leaves for the Nationale.
Brett Flores (MIA) signs 2-year deal with Philadelphia worth $1 Million/year.
Flores, looking to finally win a championship as he enters his 17th season, will add important depth up front for the Redshirts.
The news Nova Scotian PHL fans had been dreading finally came on July 20th, 1994. The Claymores would officially relocate to New Orleans at the beginning of the 1995-96 season. Delays in the construction of the team’s new arena forced them to stay put for one more season. Potential hockey fans in Louisiana would have to wait one more year while fans in Nova Scotia would have one last season to say goodbye. “This is probably about the toughest day of my life” said team captain and Nova Scotia native Dave Mack. “I just can’t believe it’s come to this”. League commissioner Darryl Byrd once again angered many Canadian fans when he gave a press conference welcoming New Orleans into the league, but never once thanked Nova Scotia or Halifax for the decades of support, never even mentioned the city. Jim McDonald, the Claymore’s founder had some choice words for the Commissioner; “That man has zero respect for the game and its history. Our team won a championship for crying out loud! But no, he’s just going to pretend we never existed. Somebody needs to stop him before he kills the sport.” Former Commissioner Alan Garcia did release a statement thanking the province and the city of Halifax for their support of the league and the team over the years.
For the Claymores, 1994-95 would be a celebration. The team surprised fans when they announced they would return to the original logo and uniforms from 1959 for the final season. The team would also open the year by honouring all their star players from throughout their history. In New Orleans, the city prepared to welcome their new team. Owner Sam Bendt announced that the team would be named the New Orleans Sound, a nod to the city’s musical heritage, and would wear the classic New Orleans colors of Purple, Green, and Gold.
Meanwhile, another Canadian franchise appeared to be in trouble. In June, the Ottawa Beavers stated they have been losing money for nearly a decade. Terry Goren has been trying to sell the team to a local buyer since 1991, with little to no success. Multimillionaire David Marriott has expressed interest, but won’t commit until a new arena for the team is secured. “The city will have to at least help make this happen, I just don’t have $150 Million lying around” said Marriott. The Capital Arena in the Byward Market area was built in 1941 and has been the team’s home since their inception in 1959.
While the Beavers struggled to find a new home, the Boston Bulldogs prepared to move into theirs. The team would begin the year at the hallowed Boston Arena before moving into the new Global Bank Arena on December 1st. The new building will seat 20,500 and will feature 90 private boxes.
The new season took on a whole new meaning in early September when Spirits’ legend David Appleby announced that the 1994-95 season would be his last in the PHL. Appleby enters his 21st year just two goals shy of the unprecedented 1,000 goal mark, and will retire as the league’s all-time leading scorer. “I don’t really know how to explain it other than its just the right time” said Appleby. “This will be a great year, I can’t wait to see what we can do this year.”