The Record ran a “10 Questions” feature on Thunder president Dan Chapman on Sunday morning, but the wide-ranging interview went far beyond 10 questions. Here’s some of the outtakes:
Question: How important was it to learn about the game after you became team president?
Answer: Obviously I thought it was important for my job to learn more about hockey.And I’m a sports fan, I just wanted to know more about it. I admittedly didn’t know a ton about it when I started here. I know a lot more now, and it makes it easier to follow the game and relate to fans.
Q: In the first seven seasons, the franchise has never finished out of the top three in the ECHL in attendance. But did you expect to have won a championship by now?
A: I wouldn’t say expected to win one, but that’s certainly our goals. It’s very tough. You have a 1 in 23 chance of winning in this league. Let’s put it this way, in my 14 years with the Ports, we won three (California League) championships, and that was in a 10-team league.
Q: Why has the Thunder maintained its popularity?
A: Two primary reasons for it. The hockey fan might be the most passionate of all sports fans. They want to catch most of your 36 home games. The second reason is we have executed a business plan that was drawn up prior to us starting that has been executed beautifully by our entire staff. I’m very proud of what we’ve done.
Q: How will the NHL lockout affect the Thunder?
A: From a business standpoint, I don’t anticipate it will affect us much. I went through two work stoppages in baseball, and while we might have seen a few fans trickle in from the Bay Area, not many. I would anticipate the same thing happening here. On the ice, there could be some trickle down from the American Hockey League since some players who might have been in the NHL will stay down. But it’s too early to tell.
Q: Has your family become hockey fans?
A: Yes, they have. They will watch on television, but prefer to come to the arena and take in the excitement and atmosphere.
Q: Most memorable athlete you ever met?
A: Probably (the late baseball player) Harmon Killebrew. He inspired because at the age of about 21 I was working for a campus radio station at San Francisco State and I was able to interview him in the dugout of the Oakland Colliseum. He was retired and a broadcaster. He was the most polite, genuine, friendly professional athlete I’ve ever met. I’ll never forget how he treated me.
Q: There was a controversy over the Bakersfield Condors holding a promotion which was aimed at Stockton’s bankruptcy. Now that it’s over, what’s you final take on the situation.
A: We saw that sensitive issues like this have to be handled carefully. There was an uproar, especially in this area, and I think that uproar caused Bakersfield to change the name. And I’m glad they did.