THE Belfast Giants have been making international headlines lately thanks mostly to new owner Jim Yaworski.
The Calgary businessman who has pumped $1.5 million into the Giants loves nothing better than to talk hockey and last week he was in every newspaper across Canada doing just that, putting the Giants top of the hockey agenda, even with the NHL strike coming to an end.
Yesterday he took time out from a family holiday at Yellowstone National Park to talk exclusively to the News Letter.
Yaworski has been putting his time and efforts into creating affiliations between teams in western Canada and the Giants and his friendship with Stanley Cup winners Theo Fleury and Mike Keane may yet see both these NHL stars in Giants shirts next season.
With the labour dispute between the NHL owners and players coming to an end and the 30 teams now frantically signing and trading players while trying to stick within the new $39 million salary cap, Yaworski says that could benefit the Giants.
That&s could speed things up a little. Now the teams have a finite knowledge of what the future holds for them and it&s easy for them to give us a yes or no answer as we drive towards an affiliation.
It&s also given us a more predictability as to what the talent pull will look like as some older players drop off and aren&t invited back to NHL teams, creating some serious opportunities for the Giants to pick- up established NHL talent and improve the prospects for the team.
It&s fair to say that there might be a couple more big name signings. We&ve kept a couple of options open and a couple of players whose names I don&t want to mention that we have been talking to.
I would suspect the phone lines will be really heating up around the August 15,$ explained Yaworski.
He&s a close friend of Fleury and while Giants General Manager John Elliott is working tirelessly to sort out the work permit, Yaworski says Fleury, a hero in Calgary as he led them to the Stanley Cup in 1989 and a veteran of over 1000 games in the NHL, is excited at the prospect of coming to Belfast.
Theo is really looking forward to it. …