Brian Petrovek always figured on another opportunity in professional hockey following his time with the Portland Pirates.
What he didn’t foresee was how quickly it would arise.
Less than a month after leaving the Pirates, Petrovek has returned to the American Hockey League as president of the Adirondack Flames in Glens Falls, New York.
“This one came together in such a good way,” Petrovek said Monday, “that I didn’t want to pass it up. Now I’ll get to write a new chapter and do it in a market that I had a significant amount of knowledge about.”
Petrovek, who spent nearly 14 years as chief executive officer of the Pirates, was introduced by the Glens Falls team at a news conference Friday.
The franchise, owned by the Calgary Flames, will move into the Glens Falls Civic Center this fall following a five-year run by the Adirondack Phantoms, a Philadelphia affiliate that is moving to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and will be known as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
“I’ve always been intrigued by this franchise,” Petrovek said, citing the favorable geographic location for team travel and a strong fan base that turned out in droves for a news conference that included Calgary’s new general manager, Brad Treliving. “Even with a Phantoms team that was here on a temporary (five-year) basis, it was well-supported.”
During stalled lease negotiations with trustees of the Cumberland County Civic Center, Petrovek visited Glens Falls last September to investigate the possibility of moving the Pirates there. His first job in pro hockey was to run the AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils in Utica, New York, for three seasons, beginning in 1987.
The arena in Glens Falls, built in 1979, is in need of renovation, Petrovek said. When he and Lyman Bullard joined forces to buy the Pirates in 2000, they knew the Portland arena, built in 1979, was in similar straits.
“I really thought we could get this done within a five- to seven-year window,” Petrovek said. “Because of a number of circumstances – and it’s nobody’s fault – it took twice as long as I thought it would.”
A voter-approved $34 million renovation to the Cumberland County Civic Center ended in February, but the Pirates finished out their home schedule in the Colisee in Lewiston because talks broke down on a lease extension.
Not long after Ron Cain became majority owner of the Pirates, talks resumed, the team dropped a lawsuit and a five-year lease was signed to keep the team in Portland.
“It was the right thing to do,” Petrovek said. “He had the most skin in the game and we agreed it needed a fresh voice.”
Any suggestion that Cain pushed Petrovek out the door is simply untrue, both men said. They began talking about a separation late in 2013.
“Brian actually brought the subject up,” Cain said. “Even then it wasn’t a clear destination, just a conversation. When it was all done, I think he felt that he had shepherded the business along far enough and it was time for us to take it forward.”
Those conversations took place in November and December, Petrovek said. He thought he might take more time to consider his next move, but when Treliving – who as assistant general manager of Portland’s NHL parent Phoenix Coyotes had worked closely with Petrovek when they were GM and CEO of the Pirates, respectively – was hired as Calgary’s new GM, things fell into place quickly.
During his time in Maine, Petrovek helped bring the 2003 and 2010 AHL All-Star Classics to Portland and served on the boards of several nonprofits, including the United Way of Greater Portland.
“We’re not severing our ties to Portland,” said Petrovek, whose wife Sara is on the board of trustees of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. “Glens Falls is a new home but not the only home. Our kids have good, long-standing relationships from their time in Yarmouth and Maine.”
The youngest of three Petrovek offspring, Steven, is about to graduate from the University of Denver. He was a standout lacrosse player at Yarmouth High. Daughters Ginny and Ana also live in Colorado, but Ginny is returning to the area to start a new job next week.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity in Glens Falls to stay in the American (Hockey) League and to do something different than I was doing in Portland,” he said, “and to capitalize on everything I had learned there.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: