Galaxy Parts Ways with Reagle

In a move that surprised many around the league, the Washington Galaxy this week announced that they had fired coach Rodney Reagle.  In making the move, the Galaxy part ways with the league’s most colorful coach and a man who led the team to a 129-105-10 record and two Finals appearances – but also a coach whose comic act was reportedly wearing thin with an aging roster that seemed to be heading in the wrong direction.

Rodney Reagle

There was a good deal of discontent in the capital city after the Galaxy finished with their first-ever sub-.500 record, going 31-32-1.  Washington was widely expected to take a step back this season after losing several key players in free agency, including LW Walt Camernitz, RW Sindri Pentti, and backup netminder Ron Mason.  Throughout the first half of the season, the Galaxy surprised with a strong performance, contending for a playoff spot for much of the season.  However, the team struggled to get production beyond their top line and collapsed after the trade deadline, going 7-19-1 over the last six weeks of the season – a stretch that sealed Reagle’s fate.

“Rodney Reagle is a good man and a good coach, and a guy I’m proud to call my friend,” said Galaxy GM Ace Adams.  “We’ve achieved a lot together, and I thank him for all the good times.  But we’ve made the difficult decision to go in a new direction.”

Reagle had a well-earned reputation as the clown prince of the SHL; he was famous around the league for dressing up in costumes on the bench and for giving post-game interviews laced with movie quotes and strange accents.  The coach’s public goofiness made him a controversial figure around the league, and even reportedly within the Galaxy front office.  As long as the team was winning, Reagle was generally viewed as charmingly eccentric.  Once the team started to slide, however, it was easy to paint the coach as insufficiently serious.

“I’ve always known that my sense of humor was a high-wire act,” said Reagle.  “As long as you win, you can be totally coo-coo bananas and everything thinks it’s a sign of a quirky genius.  When you stop winning, suddenly you’re not funny anymore.  I thought two trips to the Finals would have bought me a little more rope, but turns out there was just enough to hang me with.”

There are conflicting reports about whether the coach had lost the clubhouse.  Some sources said that many players found Reagle’s antics silly and embarrassing.  Others claimed that the players were actually quite loyal to Reagle, and that the decision was driven by owner Perry Dodge, who reportedly felt the coach was too loose with the team.

Several players spoke out in support of Reagle after word of the firing broke.  “Coach Reagle is a great guy to play for,” said C Eddie Costello.  “He treats you like a grown man and he keeps things light and fun.  I feel bad that we let him down.”

Adams declined to comment on who Reagle’s replacement might be, other than to confirm that assistant coach Herman Chambers would be “strongly considered.”  According to team sources, other possible candidates include Michigan assistant Morris Thompson, Anchorage assistant Kyle Barrow, and minor-league coach Peter James.

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Night’s Foster Accuses Officials of Anti-NY Bias

Nick Foster

In a bizarre coda to the New York Night‘s 6-5 victory over the Washington Galaxy on Saturday, Night coach Nick Foster used his postgame press conference to accuse referee Brandon Fosse and his crew of being biased against New York.  Foster went on to argue that the league was “scared of” his team and determined to keep them out of the postseason.

In a lot of ways, the game was a successful one for the Night.  They outshot the rival Galaxy 47-32 and secured a key win that all but guarantees them a third-place finish in the East.  But the third period was a harrowing one for New York, as Washington scored four unanswered goals that nearly erased a 6-1 Night lead.  Many observers thought the late rally was evidence that the Night took their foot off the gas, or that netminder Jesse Clarkson was continuing his recent stretch of shaky play.  But to Foster, the real cause of the Washington rally was a string of penalties called by Fosse and his crew.

“It’s pretty impressive that we pulled that one out, considering that we were playing against 10 guys there in the third,” said the Night coach, referring to the six Washington players and the four officials.  “They really didn’t want us to win this one, but we got the W anyway.”  Asked to elaborate, Foster said, “Come on, you’re all smart guys.  You’ve got eyes.  You think it was a coincidence that all the whistles went against us down the stretch?  I’m not sure what we did to piss [Fosse] off, or if the call came from upstairs, but he had it in for us.”

Foster continued, “I’m going to talk to the league; I don’t want his crew working our games any more.  I don’t think they’ll listen, though.  Now that we’re getting better, they’re scared of us winning.  The last thing they want to see is us in the playoffs.”

On the surface, it seemed Foster’s complaint might have some merit.  The last four penalties of the game, called in the latter half of the third period all went against New York, including two in quick concession that gave the Galaxy a 5-on-3 edge for over a minute and a half.  Foster contended that the fatigue of the extended penalty-kill shifts left his team exhausted and vulnerable to a late rally.

On the other hand, only one of Washington’s third-period goals actually came on the power play.  And Foster’s accusation ignored the fact that over the game as a whole, New York actually had more power plays than Washington.  In fact, the Galaxy didn’t go a man up even once until the third.

Fosse and the other officials join a lengthy list of people and teams with which Foster has feuded this season, including the Hamilton Pistols, their star Steven Alexander, the Dakota Jackalopes, and the Corn Palace.

The league did not make Fosse available for comment after the game, but they did take swift action against Foster, fining the coach $5,000.  “The idea that our referees or our league are biased against any of our teams is ludicrous,” said Commissioner Perry Mitchell.  “I don’t know why Coach Foster would make crazy accusations like that.  It’s disappointing on a personal level; more importantly, it’s inappropriate and unacceptable.”

Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle, on the other hand, reacted to Foster’s accusations with amusement.  “I’ve got to hand it to that guy,” Reagle said.  “Ordinarily, after a game like that, you’d figure he’d be answering questions about why his team can’t close out a game, or why his goalie couldn’t stop a cold.  Instead, he’s got us all talking about whether the refs and the league have a vendetta against his team.  Talk about post-game spin!”

Galaxy Wear Unique Unis for Ladies Night

On Wednesday, the Washington Galaxy held a “Ladies Night” promotion, something that’s fairly common around the league.  The Galaxy put a little different spin on it, however, as they wore specially colored uniforms designed by their coach.

Rodney Reagle

Originally, the plan was for the Galaxy to wear pink jerseys during the game, as other teams have done for similar promotions.  But when coach Rodney Reagle heard about that, he called GM Garnet “Ace” Adams and proposed a different idea.

“I really didn’t like the idea of pink jerseys,” said Reagle.  “They’re so stereotypical.  I’ve got a wife and three daughters, and none of them likes the color pink.  Why is it that whenever we want to show we care about women, we slather everything with pink?  It’s a cheap, transparent stunt.  If you’re going to do something, why not do something unique?”

The coach offered to design the uniforms himself, and Adams agreed.  With the help of his wife Debbie, an interior designer, Reagle drew up a prototype in a light-blue-and-coral color scheme.  Adams approved, as did owner Perry Dodge, and they went ahead and ordered uniforms based on the design.

“Naturally, when we heard that Coach was designing our uniforms, we all got a little nervous, because his fashion sense is a little out there,” said Washington C Eddie Costello.  “But when they actually showed up and we had a chance to see ’em, we thought they looked pretty sharp.  And it was kind of cool to think that we’re doing something special that most other teams wouldn’t do.”

Ladies Night Uniforms

The uniforms were also a hit with the fans, who gave the Galaxy a raucous ovation when they hit the ice in their special threads.  “I liked that they were like our normal uniforms, but different,” said fan Sherri Hilson of Landover.  “It’s a really nice look.”

During the game, the team held a silent auction for the jerseys, with the proceeds going to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.  The team wound up raising over $15,000.  The winning fans got to come down to the ice after the game and take the jerseys right off of the players’ backs.  Hilson wound up bidding for and winning the jersey of her favorite player, D Kevin Buchanan.

The uniforms weren’t the only thing that made Ladies Night special in DC.  The female fans in attendance received a Galaxy logo tote bag, and the team played only songs by female artists and groups throughout the game.  Between the first and second period, the team did its usual “Tykes on Skates” promotion between two teams of girls.  And between the second and third period, fan Jessica Stevenson of Ashburn got to take the “Tater Tot Shot,” sliding a puck into the net from center ice and winning free tater tots for a month from Ted’s Bulletin.

Reagle was very pleased with the outcome of the promotion.  “I’m glad we were able to put a special stamp on this.  It wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill event to pretend we care about our female fans.  We pulled out all the stops.  Well, almost all of them.  I offered to have my wife come coach for the night instead of me, but the front office didn’t go for it.  Probably a good thing, too; she might have done it better and I’d be out of a job.”

Reagle’s Surfer Garb Earns League Reprimand

Washington Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle has a long and illustrious history of coaching games in unorthodox outfits, dressing up as a cowboy or a vampire or Mr. T.  The league’s tolerance for Reagle’s eccentric apparel appears to be waning, however, as his latest costume earned him a fine and a stern warning from the commissioner.

Rodney Reagle

DC has been in a cold snap recently; the temperature in the nation’s capital has been unseasonably chilly.  Wednesday night was the second half of a home-and-home against the Quebec Tigres; the Galaxy had dropped the first game 6-3.  Before Wednesday’s game, Reagle made a seemingly off-hand remark, telling reporters that “my mom always told me it’s important to stay on the sunny side, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

When Reagle took the bench that evening, however, it became clear exactly what he meant.  The coach was dressed more for a day at the beach than a hockey game.  He wore a Hawaiian shirt, board shorts, flip-flops, and sunglasses.  He even appeared to have smeared zinc oxide on his nose.

The Galaxy players took the costume in stride, but the visiting Tigres and the officials were taken somewhat aback.  “I didn’t notice anything at first,” said head referee Scott Pritchard.  “But then I hear Reagle calling me over to talk, so I skate over and suddenly I’m staring at Jimmy Buffett.  I’m thinking, ‘What in the world is going on over here?’”

After the Galaxy’s 4-0 win, Reagle (still in his beach garb) explained the method to his madness.  “It’s just been too darn cold here lately,” the coach said, “so I’m just trying to think sunny!  Change your mind and you can change the world, right?  If I’m dressed for good surfing weather, then good surfing weather will come!  That’s, like, totally how it works.”  Reagle continued the beach theme by dropping phrases such as “cowabunga” and “totally tubular” into his answers.

The league was unamused, fining Reagle $500 for violating the rules against coaches wearing “professional attire” on the bench.  “Coach Reagle is a colorful character, and I appreciate that,” said SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell.  “And we’ve looked the other way at some of his costume choices before.  But at some point, we’ve got to draw the line.  We don’t want to turn the league into a sideshow.”  The commissioner added that the league would consider further action, including possible suspensions, if Reagle continued to flout the dress code.

Washington’s front office and fans both responded with outrage to the decision.  The hashtag “#FreeRodney” began trending on Twitter shortly after the decision was announced, and Galaxy GM Garnet “Ace” Adams stoutly defended his coach.  “Look, we all know that Rodney’s a little kooky,” said Adams.  “Okay, maybe more than a little.  All right, he’s basically a lunatic.  But we love him for that!  And this is a free country!  Who’s the commissioner to say that Rodney can’t wear a Hawaiian shirt on the bench?  He has a right to bare arms!”

For his part, Reagle reacted with bemusement.  “I mean, this is where they draw the line?  Really?” the coach said.  “Dressing up like Mr. T was OK, but wearing a beach outfit is demeaning to the game?  I don’t get it.  It’s not like I was naked out there or anything.”

The coach added that the decision is popular with at least one person.  “My wife is behind the commish 100% on this one,” said Reagle.  “Being married to me is embarrassing enough as it is.  She told me that from now on, I’m not leaving the house until she’s approved my outfit.  That’s probably for the best.”

Quebec Coach in Hot Water After Late-Night Escapades

This year has been a struggle for Quebec Tigres coach Martin Delorme.  His team’s ambitions have been undone by goalie Riki Tiktuunen‘s struggles to stay healthy; they’re likely to finish with a record barely better than last year.  In midseason, Delorme engaged in a public spat with star winger Stephane Mirac.  The coach, who was hailed as a savior when he agreed to coach the expansion Tigres last season, is starting to hear jeers from impatient fans.

Martin Delorme

Delorme’s season took a major turn for the worse this week as he was arrested for drunk driving, an embarrassment that only got worse when his arrest led to the revelation of the coach’s messy personal life.

The arrest happened early Monday morning, a few hours after the Tigres’ 1-0 overtime victory over Hershey at Centre Citadelle.  Delorme was pulled over in the village of Saint-Anselme around 4 AM after he was spotted driving erratically.  He failed the field sobriety tests and blew 0.14 on the Breathalyzer.  The coach was also noted to be disheveled, a rarity for him, and was wearing s suit jacket and undershirt, but no shirt.  Delorme was arrested and held overnight before being released.

“It was very poor judgment on my part,” said Delorme.  “I am ashamed of my actions.”

Little did Delorme realize that the arrest would be only the beginning of his problems.  Reporters found the incident odd for a number of reasons.  For one thing, Delorme does not have a reputation as a big drinker.  For another, Saint-Anselme is not located anywhere near the coach’s home or the team’s facilities.  For another, “Martin wouldn’t leave the house unless he was perfectly dressed,” in the words of one reporter.  “Clearly, something weird was going on.”

To get to the bottom of it, reporters began trying to reconstruct Delorme’s activities after the game.  With some investigative work, they were able to piece together a timeline.  After the game and his postgame interviews, Delorme was seen leaving the arena with a woman not his wife.  (The coach’s wife has not been seen at games for most of the season.)  Later, Delorme and the woman were seen together at a bar in Levis, across the river from Quebec.  Later, the pair went back to the woman’s house, where they apparently stayed until the woman’s husband arrived home unexpectedly.  At that point, the coach fled and drove away, until he was pulled over a short distance away.

Stories about Delorme’s wild night broke on Wednesday, shortly before the Tigres’ game against Hamilton.  The coach reacted angrily when questioned about his activities.  “This is none of your concern,” Delorme snapped.  “This is not news; nothing but gossip.  What job is it of yours to examine my bedsheets?  I do not have to respond to this inquisition.”

Quebec players were hesitant to discuss the incident.  “It’s definitely a surprise, that’s for sure,” said LW Stellan Fisker.  “We wer all pretty shocked.  I don’t really know the details, so there’s not a lot I can say.  But it’s a tough break for Coach Delorme.”

Word of the incident traveled fast.  When the Tigres came to Washington on Friday to play the Galaxy, the Jumbotron displayed Delorme behind the bench while “Loverboy” by Billy Ocean blared over the speakers as the fans laughed and cheered.  After the game, a 3-2 Quebec win, Delorme called the stunt “unprofessional,” but had no further comment.

Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle couldn’t resist poking fun at the incident in his postgame press conference.  “Boy, Martin’s got himself in a mess, hasn’t he?”  said Reagle with a giggle.  “I wouldn’t have expected that out of him.  He seems like a careful sort of guy.  But I guess that’s how it goes with French guys, right?  That swingin’ lifestyle… Personally, as a married man, I’m really surprised.  I mean, I can’t even get dressed in the morning without my wife’s help.  If I was going to have an affair, I’d probably have to ask her to help me set it up.”

Galaxy Stokes Rivalry with “Hershey-pocalypse”

The Washington Galaxy and Hershey Bliss have forged one of the SHL’s strongest rivalries.  They have proven to be the strongest teams in the East since the SHL’s beginning. Last season, the teams battled for the division title all the way to the very last day.  Yet in spite of their spirited competition, the Galaxy and Bliss have remained fairly cordial; the coaches and players largely seem to get along, as have the teams’ fan bases.

That may change going forward, as the Galaxy turned up the temperature on the rivalry this week with a controversial promotion that left both teams talking.

Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Bliss at Constellation Center, the Galaxy asked each fan to bring a Hershey bar with them, but didn’t explain why.  When the fans arrived at the gate, they were asked to turn in their Hershey bar.  In exchange, they each received a Milky Way bar.  The choice of the replacement candy bar was symbolic on two levels.  The first is the obvious connection with the “Galaxy” name.  Second, the Mars corporation (which manufactures the Milky Way bar) is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, a DC suburb.

“We wanted to offer our fans the chance for a superior chocolate-eating experience,” said Galaxy GM Ace Adams.  “And we want to encourage them to support their hometown candymaker, not our rival’s.”

But the promotion didn’t end there.  Between the second and third periods, the song “Candy Man” began playing over the arena speakers.  A brown rabbit bearing a suspicious similarity to Nibs, the Bliss mascot, skipped out onto the ice pushing a bin full of the turned-in Hershey bars.  He was greeted with scattered boos.

Suddenly, the Galaxy’s mascot Rocketman came out onto the ice, accompanied by a pair of talking M&M mascots.  They came up to the rabbit and knocked him down, confiscating the bin of Hershey bars, as “Candy Man” stopped playing, replaced by “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”  Then members of Washington’s operations crew wheeled a wood chipper onto the ice.  Rocketman and the M&Ms began feeding the Hershey bars into the wood chipper, with the spit-out fragments landing on the fallen rabbit.  The fans cheered this display wildly.

Once all the Hershey bard has been shredded, the rabbit jumped up and ran off the ice, chased by the M&Ms.  Meanwhile, Rocketman glided around the ice, flexing his muscles and tossing out coupons for Mars products.  Meanwhile, the PA announcer crowed, “Welcome to the Hershey-pocalypse!” and stated that henceforth, “any fan bringing Hershey candy into the arena will be ejected,” which was met by a roar of approval.  The crowd’s mood only improved after Washington completed a 5-4 win.

Washington coach Rodney Reagle was a big fan of the promotion and the attempt to stoke the rivalry.  “Personally, I’ve always been a Snickers man, because the peanuts fill you up and help you make it through those afternoon blood-sugar crashes,” said Reagle.  “But I’ll happily eat any of the fine Mars family of products.  They taste great, unlike Hershey bars, which taste like somebody scraped them out of the bottom of a bird cage.”

The coach added, “I’m all for fanning the flames of this rivalry.  I mean, it’s a little one-sided, since we’ve won all the titles.  But hate makes the world go round – sports hate, anyway – and I’m all for stirring the pot.  So come on, Galaxy fans: put a little hate in your heart!”

Bliss coach “Chocolate Chip” Barber objected to the between-periods display, saying “it’s a waste of good chocolate, and I can’t get behind that.”  He added, “A lot of guys in this room took notice, and they didn’t appreciate it.  We will proudly stand up for the superiority of Hershey’s chocolate any time.  We know that America’s best chocolate comes from central Pennsylvania, and we’ll fight anybody who says otherwise.”

Asked if the Bliss planned any revenge for the activity, Barber said, “The best revenge will come when we win the division this year.  But yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if our guys come up with something.”