Most Seattle sports fans remember the Monday Night Football game in December between the Seahawks and the Saints pretty vividly, as the Seahawks made a big statement in front of the whole sports world. Lost in all the noise of that night was the story that former NHL star Jeremy Roenick was in attendance.
Many former athletes attend big time sporting events, so why was this news?
This was newsworthy because of who Roenick was with and what they might have been talking about. Roenick was at the game with Chris Hansen and many believe the talk was NHL expansion in Seattle.
This is not the first time that Roenick's name has been linked to a potential Seattle NHL franchise. You may recall last summer, when the mess with the Phoenix Coyotes was bubbling over, that Roenick was linked to Ray Bartoszek and investor Anthony Lanza, who were believed to be the potential new ownership group for the Coyotes.
So who exactly is Jeremy Roenick? Would he be good for Seattle's hockey prospects?
If you have been a hockey fan for a while you know all about "JR," but since this is a Sonics blog, we're going to assume that many may not be familiar with him or his career.
Roenick played 20 seasons in the NHL for the Chicago Blackhawks, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. His best years were with Chicago in the early '90s when he twice eclipsed the 50-goal mark and had three consecutive seasons with 100 points.
He appeared in one Stanley Cup final with the Blackhawks in 1990, where they lost to the Mario Lemieux-led Pittsburgh Penguins.
Roenick was a hard-nosed physical player who also had the skill to score goals. He was brash on and off the ice and found himself in some controversies over the years. He also found himself mentioned in a classic scene from the movie Swingers when Vince Vaughn's character, scoring a goal on Sega hockey, says, "It's not so much even me as it is Roenick, he's good."
He was a good player, but would he make a good owner?
That is hard to say. Roenick currently is employed by NBC doing pregame and in-between-period studio analysis for the NHL. He's never held a front office or player development position with any team.
While all that is true, he is a big name in hockey circles.
It's hard to imagine that he has the scratch to be the majority owner of any NHL club, but it's clear that he knows investors who might. Whether that is Bartoszek or someone else, he could make a great public face of the franchise.
Roenick is a familiar name and would make an excellent ambassador of the game in a new market. He is personable, knowledgeable and has a passion for hockey that is infectious.
As stated, he can and has been brash at times. That's not very "Seattle" as we like our vibe to be a bit more laid back. That's not what Roenick is about and he is not afraid to tell it like it is -- as he did when playing against Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy.
While Seattle is a pretty laid back town, guys like Richard Sherman have proven that a loud and brash sports personality can be embraced amongst our mellow vibe. There is no reason to think Roenick would not also be embraced.
If the Seattle Arena is headed down a hockey first path, Roenick may end up being the guy to bring the right people together. He's been linked to Seattle already and his meeting with Hansen feels like too much smoke to not have a fire.
The possibility exists that Roenick could end up being a pretty big hero in Seattle. If the NHL does award Seattle an expansion franchise and that ends up getting the NBA back, how big will the name Jeremy Roenick be in Seattle sports lore?