San Francisco hockey a tough sell

September 21, 2011, 7:42 pm
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I have seen the San Francisco Seals. I have seen the San Francisco Shamrocks. I have seen the San Francisco Spiders. I know what happens when minor league hockey comes to the Cow Palace.

Thus, the announcement that the ECHL (which used to stand for East Coast Hockey League) has had its own conference realignment spasm and put a franchise called the Bulls in the Palazzo della Mucca brings with waves of nostalgia to go along with the smell of roasting money.

The money wont be ours, of course. That will belong to Pat and Elouise Curcio, who have moved to the Bay Area to operate the first minor league team in the Bay Area since the Sharks expansion year . . . sorry, since the Spiders croaked in 1996 after burning through 6 million in a year.

Not that we wish the Curcios ill, mind you. They might be just the kind of snappy entrepreneurs who can find the niche for hockey fans who cant schlep down to San Jose for that key Sharks-Blue Jackets game, and make the Bulls a nice modestly priced alternative.

It shant be easy. San Francisco prides itself on being a sophisticated, first-class, elegant town -- which is of course a bit of a lie, since all cities worth a damn have a wide swath of people. And frankly, Bulls is a bit of a generic nickname for a town that really hasnt had many bulls roaming the streets over the last, say, 160 years.

Plus, we havent been kind to niche franchises in the past, going back to the Saints of the very old ABL. From the Golden Gate Gales (pro soccer) to the Freedom (pro cricket) and Dragons (outdoor lacrosse), we have ignored them all aggressively, even without potentially rivalries with teams in Fresno and Stockton.

In short, this wont be an easy slog for the Curcios.

But anyone who can provide the Palais de Vache with more dates and entertainment is okay in our book. I mean, even if you dont like hockey or cows, maybe your next-door neighbors do, and every game they go to is one less night when you have to complain that theyre too noisy. Let a thousand flowers bloom. And keep your elbows up.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for