Gallacher not seeking NHL in Portland

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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PORTLAND — Bill Gallacher called Portland-area hockey fans some of the most knowledgeable in North America. But the owner of the Portland Winterhawks said he has not considered bringing the National Hockey League to the Portland-Vancouver market. The Calgary businessman who bought the Winterhawks in October of 2008 spoke with media members between periods of Sunday’s Game 2 of the WHL Finals.

“I’ve said in the past that I’d love to at some point own an NHL team,” Gallacher said. “The thing with Portland is it’s such a great hockey town. I’ve never really thought of (Portland) in any other terms than the Winterhawks. That’s from a selfish point of view, mind you. But there’s very few cities anywhere in North America that are as knowledgeable as Portland hockey fans.”

Gallacher said plans to invest in upgrading Veterans Memorial Coliseum are still being evaluated. He spoke highly of the relationships between the Winterhawks organization and the Portland City Council. He said the team also has a strong relationship with the Trail Blazers.

The Winterhawks are in their fourth consecutive league finals because of a lot of work from a lot of people, and an investment in scouting, Gallacher said.

“We never wanted to build a franchise that was good for one or two years then you had to rebuild,” Gallacher said.

He noted that the Winterhawks scouting staff is probably larger than some NHL teams.

“From our perspective that was a very important part: going and seeing kids play and finding hidden gems, and I think we’ve done that.”