In front of 8,500 hockey fans in San Diego, the Anaheim Ducks made it official – the Gulls are returning to the classiest city in the world.
The team, in name alone, has been around on and off since 1966. The last time the San Diego Gulls took to the ice was in the 2005-2006 season as a part of the West Coast Hockey League. Thanks to the growth of hockey in Southern California, the Gulls are back again.
Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli purchased the current Norfolk Admirals franchise as a part of the AHL’s coordinated westward expansion with other Pacific Division teams. Aside from the name, what wasn’t announced at the time was the inclusion of one other member of the Samueli clan who would act as a co-owner, daughter Jillian Samueli.
Per Ducks PR, Jillian isn’t coming into this business without experience. For the past five seasons, she’s acted as a coordinator within the minor hockey league operations department for both the Admirals and the Syracuse Crunch.
No other specifics were given as to the share of ownership between Henry, Susan, and Jillian, or how this would impact the decision making process with the franchise. It’s to be considered nothing more than ‘family owned’.
Family ties when it comes to the Gulls don’t stop at the owners. Ducks’ senior vice president of hockey operations, David McNab, grew up as a part of the early Gulls franchise. From the San Diego Union Tribune:
“McNab is the son of Max McNab, the first coach of the WHL Gulls. McNab coached the Gulls for six seasons, and David’s brother, Peter McNab, was the first Gulls’ mascot, Sandy Gull.
“I know my father would be proud to know hockey is back in San Diego,” McNab said. “Our family’s connection to the city and this arena has been huge. For my father, these were the best years of our lives as far as hockey was concerned.
“I walked through the building today and literally remembered everything, it was like I walked through a time machine and came back to 1973. This is fantastic.”
The Gulls will play at the Valley View Casino Center, formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena. According to the website, it’s undergone a $2.5-million face lift financed by the Valley View Casino, and AEG, you know, the owners of the Kings. Ironic, no?
— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) February 22, 2015
Anyway, the Ducks have one of the more promising pool of prospects in the farm system that will be developing just an hour and a half-ish down the freeway from the big club. If you ever needed an excuse to visit San Diego, now you have one.
As always: stay classy, San Diego.