Rochester Americans Booster Club Lifetime Member Virginia Paddock

Interview: March 2009

Home Town: Wellsville, NY

First Amerks Game: December 1967

Home Games Missed Since: Approx. 20


Q-How you got interested in hockey/ Amerks…

V.PADDOCK- It was December of ’67. Ann’s (Paddock) head nurse had given her tickets. She went with her head nurse and then she and her roommate went back to Boston for the holidays and gave Ann the hockey tickets. In addition, I went with her and I was hooked. And we’ve been going ever since.

The first year we sat on the river side of the War Memorial and the next year we moved over to, what was then Section 6. And have been there ever since. Same seats

Q-Hockey wasn’t important until then?

V.PADDOCK- Baseball was more of our thing. We were from the Southern Tier. We had D League , that moved up to an A league. There was a baseball franchise in Wellsville. Until we had a chance to go to a hockey game and we just liked it, and it’s been going on ever since.

Q-How soon did you return to see a game?

V.PADDOCK- The next game.

Q-Your favorite Amerks?

V.PADDOCK- Doug Gibson, Gordie Clark, Yvon Lambert, Jody Gage- those are the ones that quickly come to mind.

I still hear from the Gibson’s. I can’t believe their daughters are 30 and 32- just doesn’t seem possible that it was that long ago that I was making the christening outfit for one of them.

Q-Your All Time Amerks team?

V.PADDOCK- Goalie would probably be Bobby Perreault. Second behind him would be Ryan Miller. Doug Gibson, Gordie Clark, Yvon Lambert. Defense: John Bednarski, Rod Graham. Backups would be Jody Gage and Geordie Robertson.

Q-Wasn’t the Vancouver-owned four-year period (1968-72) the lowest point in Amerks history?

V.PADDOCK- Vancouver tops it all. Management and players. It was just awful. The Coach Peanuts O’Flaherty and Doug Adams, they were awful. Then they hired Don Cherry. And we had a Meet the Players dinner at Monroe Community College. Adams and O’Flaherty were on one side of the room, the players and Don were on the other side of the room. And nobody spoke to each other. It was a very different dinner.

Q-Do you recall the game when Adams was confronted by fans after a big loss at the War Memorial.. leading to bringing Cherry in as coach?

V.PADDOCK- The fans did not like Adams, period. And he didn’t do anything to help us. It was just awful. Some of the fans on that side,, just went after him. Sitting on the opposite side, I couldn’t even tell you who started it. But everybody was grouping around him.

Q-What went wrong with Vancouver?

V.PADDOCK- We were used to winning. They were doing nothing to get a winning team in here. And I think it all caught up to us. We lost our players to Vancouver and the fans were all very upset about that. And they didn’t get us anything in return. And we had just come off winning the Calder Cup. It just didn’t bode well for the fans.

Q-The good days for the Amerks…?

V.PADDOCK- Mid to late 70s through the early 90s.. but I think the Calder Cup of ’87 was memorable, for more reasons than one. Our girlfriend, who was also a Booster Club member, got married that day. Ann was in the wedding. I was the head of the reception committee for her. We watched the game on television and then went and met the plane when they came in from Sherbrooke, on the 23rd of May. So it was a very long day. There was over twenty-five hundred fans at the airport. We just kind of went in and moved the Page Airways stuff around so that we could get up to the fences.

Q-What would you change about the game?

V.PADDOCK- For one thing I’d get rid of that idiotic rule where you get a two-minute penalty for shooting the puck out of the arena. I know what I’d like to see but it would never happen now. Because the players are bigger, stronger, faster and that would be: get rid of the helmets. It was much more exciting hockey back then when we had the chicken wire. And, helmet-less players, I don’t think we had the high-sticking calls back then that we got now. You didn’t see the high-sticking, the checking from behind like we have now. And I firmly believe that it’s all because of the helmets.

Q-Hockey memorabilia you have?

V.PADDOCK- I’ve got probably six clothes racks full of jerseys. I’ve got the Lyndsay Wall jersey- from the USA Olympics , the first one she played in, and it’s team autographed. And I took that in the Cystic Fibrosis live auction that year for a thousand dollars.

Q-Hockey superstitions?

V.PADDOCK- None. Not a thing.

Q-Other teams you follow, in the NHL?

V.PADDOCK- Nashville and the Sabres. Nashville because Pete Rogers is there. He was an Equipment Manager for the Amerks for a number of years, and my neighbor.

Q-Your feelings on losing the Sabres as our parent club?

V.PADDOCK- I was sad to see the Sabres go but I think we needed a break. It was an unfortunate situation. If the management in Rochester had just not waited so long, we probably could have stayed with Buffalo. But I think it was held up way too long and once it was then there was no alternative, and they were already gone. I don’t know a lot. But my take on it, I don’t know if this is true, false or indifferent is that they were giving us money for the management here to go out and buy our own veteran players. And they used that money for other teams, events, other bills, whatever, but did not get us the veteran players.

I don’t think Golisano had much to do with it. I think the whole deal was Larry Quinn. He had messed things up before and I think he’s messing it up again. That’s why I was sad to see Buffalo go, but not sad for that reason. Because when Larry Quinn got back in, he got rid of their scouting department, to do scouting with video tape. You need to see these kids in person. Videos doesn’t do things justice

Q-Re: the Booster Club..will it continue…

V.PADDOCK- As long as we can get people to run for office. We have membership of roughly 200.. 250. And you may have 30 people that do anything. We’re trying to get new blood in so we can get new officers. Right now, we’re running without a vice-president because we couldn’t get anybody to run for that. I’m going to finish out my term. Whether I’ll run for the second term or not remains to be seen.

This is my first term as president. I’ve been vice-president. I’ve been membership chairman, then Ways and Means, I’ve also been Transportation.

Q-Front Offices that have worked well with the Booster Club?

V.PADDOCK- John Den Hamer, back in the early 70s was great to work with. George Bergantz, with Buffalo and the time he was here. Which was the time that Rochester joined Buffalo until the mid to late 80s. George was wonderful to work with.

And I can’t say enough about our new ownership group to work with. They have gone out of their way to involve us in everything. We’re doing scrap books for the players. They’ve been there to back us. They’ve helped us, we’ve helped them. We’re working on a St.Patrick’s Day float with them. They wanted both teams and both teams Booster Clubs (Knighthawks) to be involved with it, which is unheard of. It says a lot for them. And whatever we’ve asked for, we’ve usually gotten. Last year we didn’t have a jersey raffle because we were told there were no jerseys. We had a meeting with the front office in August, and Lewis Staats said he would check into it. He said he could us six for the year, and you’ll have them opening night. Well, they missed opening night but we had them shortly thereafter. We decided that instead of doing one raffle we would spread it, and we would raffle one jersey every six games. And just have people put their name and phone number on the back of the ticket. And if they weren’t there, we would call them. And it’s worked out quite well.

But it’s not as money-raising as it was when we had it each game, but it’s better than it was last year.

Q-Where does the club get the biggest share of incoming revenue?

V.PADDOCK- From the 50-50 raffle, and that’s down. It hasn’t been the same with the 50-50 since the War Memorial was renovated. Because our tables used to be right in front of the doors, as people walked in. Now, they come up. They sometimes go left, they sometimes go right. We do get quite a few people but it’s not the same as it was in the old arena.

Q-All-time favorite Amerk?

V.PADDOCK- It would probably be Doug Gibson.

Q-Some Amerks that you were surprised that they did or didn’t make the NHL..

V.PADDOCK- Dave Hynes would be one, I’m not even sure if he ever got called up to the NHL. There’s been a couple of European guys that I thought would go farther. Milan Bartovic would be one. Novotny would be another one, even though he’s still playing. He never played to his true potential I think.

Q-Favorite coaches?

V.PADDOCK- Probably Don Cherry would be one. I think Randy Cunneyworth was good. And definitely, Benoit Groulx. With what he had to work with.. and once we got them going I think he’s done a great job.

Q-Wasn’t it disappointing to see how the fans abandoned this team early, for attendance?

V.PADDOCK- Yes but it’s typical of the Rochester hockey fans. If they don’t like something they don’t come out. And I think a lot of people were mad at Steve Donner for not doing something before he did. So they took it out on the new ownership. And I don’t think that’s fair either. They worked very hard in a short time period.

Q-And I don’t know if you’ve been in the hockey office, but what a difference, from before. It looks like a business and they’ve gone and got the old pictures and banners, old memorabilia out of the basement and hung it up in the office area- where it should be. And it is great.

Q-Anything to add..

V.PADDOCK- I just wish we could get more of our Booster Club members into going on our excursions. We do have a lot of fun times on them. We’ve had some really memorable ones.

Many, many years ago the ladies wore their hair bouffant. My sister and I both got our hair caught in nails in the old Eastern State Coliseum, when we were out at intermission. That was interesting.

We lost a Greyhound bus in Detroit ’cause the bus driver told us: go to the right. Only problem was, he took us out the wrong door. And that was the same trip that we got to Cleveland and found out that they had traded Red Armstrong to Springfield, after they had given us permission at the beginning of the week to have a Red Armstrong Night. It didn’t go over real well with us, but we still had the Night.

Two years running, we went to Baltimore. First time, we got in, they told us there was a snow emergency. Buses, cars stranded all over the streets. No snow, a little ice, a little wind, but no snow. And the following year, we left the city and we were the last piece of public transportation to leave Rochester. And they closed the roads all the way behind us. We go to Baltimore. The Amerks had an eleven o’clock flight out and never made it to Baltimore. Mr. Butterfield (AHL Commissioner) kind of frowned on that but we had to stay an extra day in Baltimore because we couldn’t get home. So, we do have some fun times.

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