Norfolk Admirals lean on former players to lead hockey program’s revival

Posted at 5:34 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-25 23:35:22-04

Patrick Cavanagh named new owner of Norfolk Admirals

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Two former Admirals are taking the lead in the program's revival efforts.

Patrick Cavanagh, who was a right wing for the team from 1989-92, was named the new owner. One of his first orders of business was naming Rod Taylor, a former left wing for the Admirals, the new head coach.

"Rod's a winner through and through,"  said Cavanagh, who's been working toward taking ownership of the team since January. "He's a big part of this history, like we all have been."

Taylor's time as an Admirals players spanned nine seasons, and his 368 career goals rank second all-time in the ECHL record book.

Rod Taylor named Admirals head coach

"Pretty amazing that I'm back in this world of the Admirals," Taylor said. "I've come back to, you know, really full circle. This is what brought me to this area, I love this area greatly. I didn't expect to be here this long, but I've loved the fans, I love to grow with this community. It's pretty amazing that I've gotten picked to be a head coach of a team I played for for years."

During the team's press conference on Tuesday, most of the attention was on improvements to the fan experience.

"The players in our community have to understand the connection with [fans], our office staff has to understand the connection with our fans as well," said Taylor, who's in the Admirals' and ECHL's Hall of Fame. "I know it's been neglected and it's been abused over the course of time, and that's one of the things that we have to change.

Patrick Cavanagh named Admirals' owner

"I think that's probably my biggest challenge, for [players] to understand that this is the community that you have to back and you need their support."

Part of Cavanagh's plan to improve fan experience includes featuring exclusive lounges for season-ticket holders, luxury suites, and VIP and Corporate seating options.

Related: No longer on thin ice? Admirals sign three-year agreements with city of Norfolk, ECHL

"I'm very focused on delivering to the fans in this community, more than they expect," Cavanagh added. "Driven every day by player betterment and championships returning to Hampton Roads."

The Admirals have been a far cry from being a championship-caliber team in recent years. The 2018-19 season saw a losing record, and they haven't made the playoffs since returning to the ECHL in 2015. The team's latest success came in 2012 when they won the AHL's Calder Cup. The Admirals' most noteworthy ECHL success includes winning championships in 1991, 1992 and 1998.