The Sports Lounge presents… REMEMBER THEM: New Orleans Brass
The New Orleans Brass were a professional hockey team that played from 1997-2002 as members of the East Coast Hockey League. They were one time affiliates of the San Jose Sharks of the NHL and played their home games at the Municipal Auditorium and the New Orleans Arena. The head coach of the Brass was Ted Sator, who was an assistant or head coach with the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, and Hartford Whalers.
The team, partially owned by future New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, made the playoffs every year in their existence. In the 1998-99 season, they lost in the Conference semifinals, which is the farthest they advanced. Brass games were broadcast on WWWL radio and their first broadcaster was Steve Carroll, now the radio voice of the Anaheim Ducks. In their five seasons in New Orleans, the Brass went 173-135-29-7 (W-L-T-OTL). The lowest win total in any season was 30. Their rivals were in-state franchises, Baton Rouge Kingfish and Louisiana Ice Gators, and the Mississippi Seawolves, located in Biloxi, MS.
When the NBA franchise Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans and were set to play in the New Orleans Arena, the State of Louisiana tried to force the Brass to pay the cost of converting the floor from the basketball court to ice. Brass ownership did not want to pay this much and began to look for another home. After finding out that the Municipal Auditorium had undergone renovations and did not have the necessary equipment to lay ice down, the Brass were left without a home and folded in 2002.
Some notable players in New Orleans Brass history include RW Jesse Boulerice, LW Brad Church, C Kimbi Daniels, LW Gordie Dwyer, and C Trevor Sim. Mikhail Kravets, RW, played for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Louisiana (Lafayette), all three ECHL franchises that existed in Louisiana.
The Brass were a very successful franchise that really fell victim to the incoming NBA franchise. When there is a choice to be made between the NBA and a minor league hockey franchise, the NBA will always win. If their was a home for the Brass, there is no reason to believe that the team couldn’t have been in the Cresent City for much longer. But, circumstances have made the Brass another former franchise. The New Orleans Brass website can be viewed at www.vektorwebsystems.com/brasshockey The team is still loved in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast area. The team’s nickname was identifiable by the people of New Orleans and even though hockey is not a big sport in Louisiana, the people supported this team like they do other minor sports in the city.