COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The USA Hockey Foundation has finalized the purchase of Compuware Arena, effective today, and will take over operations of the Plymouth, Michigan, facility immediately.
“It’s an exciting day for us,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of The USA Hockey Foundation and USA Hockey. “There are a lot of people to thank, too many to mention them all, but I’d particularly like to recognize Tony Rossi for all of his hard work on this effort and also commend our Board for their vision and support throughout the process. Obviously there is much work ahead, but we look forward to the future and all the opportunities having this facility will bring.”
DeGregorio noted the facility will be called USA Hockey Arena and that it will serve as the new home for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, beginning with the 2015-16 season.
“We’re grateful to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, which has been the home of the NTDP since it was founded in 1996,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of the USA Hockey Foundation and USA Hockey. “The good news is, that for fans in Ann Arbor, we will not be far away. Also, we very much look forward to welcoming the fans of the Plymouth Whalers and we’re confident they’ll enjoy the product they’ll see on the ice. Our two teams that make up the NTDP play in the USHL, which is the top junior hockey league in our country. Coupled with some of the college opponents that we'll host, as well as international competition, our schedule of games and events will be very attractive to fans.”
“There’s a lot to accomplish now that the sale is complete,” continued Ogrean. “We intend to have a formal press conference and community event later this spring and at that time will have more details related to what fans and the community can expect going forward.”
The purchase of the facility, which includes two ice sheets, also includes the drive-in movie business that operates in the arena parking lot during the summer months, C.J.’s Restaurant, and the arena pro shop. USA Hockey intends to continue operation of all three … USA Hockey Arena will remain the home of the Compuware youth hockey program … The NTDP is expected to re-locate to USA Hockey Arena over the course of the summer.
While there have been plenty of United States Olympians who’ve embodied the “Got Milk?”-like wholesome symbolism of success over the years, A.J. (Mleczko) Griswold, gold medalist in 1998 and silver medalist in 2002, may top them all. The Nantucket, Mass., native’s credentials border on unassailable.
In 1999 alone, she won a national championship with the Harvard University women’s hockey team, she was selected First Team All-America, she earned the second-ever Patty Kazmaier Award and she claimed Bob Allen Women's Player of the Year honors. She is also a member of two halls of fame: The New England Women's Sports Hall of Fame (2002) and the Women's Beanpot Hall of Fame (2011).
One could convincingly argue that the self-actualization box has been checked.
USA Hockey caught up with Griswold at her Concord, Mass., home recently, where she had just returned from her third Olympics as a hockey broadcaster for NBC Sports. Reflecting on her transition to the media, she said, “It was very different. I had played in two Olympics, retired and started a family. Like anyone entering the field, I had to audition, which was scary, and then take on a steep learning curve. I was seven months pregnant when I first went on the air for the network in Torino.”
As for the contrast between playing a game and communicating a game’s happenings to viewers, Griswold said, “Initially, it was hard to watch and not be involved. It was a new challenge though, to look at hockey in an analytical way, and entirely different to watch a game and form opinions. Furthermore, you have to be impartial. In spite of playing with many of the (Team USA) women on the ice, I noticed it was not as hard to be unbiased.”
She also added, perhaps surprisingly, that “you have more free time as an athlete.” As a broadcaster (at any Olympics), Griswold regularly preps for, and calls, two to three games a day.
When it came to the alleged, Twitter-fueled mishaps in Sochi, Griswold was quick to debunk them.
“I didn’t have the experience (as an employee of NBC Sports) of a typical attendee, but I can tell you my hotel was great and the weather was great. While the four previous host sites spread the Olympics around the respective cities, there was an Olympic Park with beautiful, state-of-the art facilities in Sochi. I ate my meals at the NBC Commissary, where American food was served.”
The byproduct of such a layout, however, was that “I didn’t feel like I was in Russia.”
When asked how she stays close to the game and USA Hockey, the mother of four with husband, Jason, was excited to mention that she is an athlete director with USA Hockey and also a board member with the USA Hockey Foundation.
It’s in coaching though, often times with Jason, a hockey player himself and a lacrosse player in college at Colgate University, that she feels is the best way to stay involved and keep learning.
“Coaching kids, including our own, is the best way to give back, to share your expertise,” she said. “It’s at the grassroots level where you make a real difference.”