During a press conference on Tuesday, the management of Madtown Hockey, LLC announced the new USHL Member Club will be known as the “Madison Capitols” when it begins play during the 2014-15 season. The Capitols also welcomed two new members to their ownership group – Ryan Suter, defenseman for the Minnesota Wild, and Tom Sagissor, former Wisconsin Badgers player.
The Capitols name is a nod to the original USHL team that competed in the city for 11 seasons, first known as the Madison Capitols (1984-91) and then the Wisconsin Capitols (1991-95). It has lived on with the Madison Capitols AAA youth hockey program to continues to play today at the Capitol Ice Arena, site of Tuesday’s press event.
Suter and Sagissor join the ownership group that includes Brian Schoenborn, Jeff Krol, Charles Bidwill III, Saul Trieman, and Tom Garrity. The Madison Capitols will hire a full-time business and hockey staff, along with securing players in the coming months. The new USHL team will play its home games at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Suter is in his ninth NHL season and second overall with the Minnesota Wild. He was selected in the first round (7th overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators and spent seven seasons with the club prior to signing with the Wild in the summer of 2012. He is a native of Madison and spent a year playing college hockey at the University of Wisconsin (2003-04) prior to beginning his pro career. He played junior hockey for the National Team Development Program for two seasons (2001-03) prior to it becoming a member of the USHL.
“I am so excited about the USHL playing in Madison where I have so many friends, memories, and deep hockey roots,” said Suter. “This is a new and unique opportunity for me to be an owner and investor, and I believe in the product and the great staff that is being assembled. I look forward to the first game and the support of the great hockey fans in the Madison area.”
Ryan is part of Suter family that has deep bloodlines in the game hockey as his father, Bob Suter, played at the University of Wisconsin and won a NCAA Championship in 1977. Bob was also a member of the legendary 1980 United States team that won gold at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, a run that was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice”. Ryan’s uncle, Gary Suter, played in the USHL for two seasons (1981-83) with the original Dubuque Fighting Saints. He went on to also play at the University of Wisconsin before embarking on a 17-year NHL career that included winning the Stanley Cup.
Sagissor is a former Badger hockey standout who was a member of the 1990 NCAA Championship team and also went on to play professionally with the Montreal Canadiens organization. He is now a successful Divisional Director for RBC Wealth Management Group in Minnesota. He was a fifth-round of the Canadiens in the 1985 NHL Draft after a stellar high school career at Hastings (MN) High School. Sagissor is currently Director of Hockey in the Stillwater (MN) Youth Hockey Association and serves on the Board of Directors for “Defending the Blue Line”, a non-profit organization assisting military families in need. Sagissor is still an active member in the University of Wisconsin “W” Club that raises funds for Badger Athletics.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime to bring a USHL club to a great hockey community like Madison,” said Sagissor. “I know the fans in this area will love to watch the development of these players over time. We wanted to keep the great tradition with the name Madison Capitols as it means so much to the history of hockey in this marketplace. I cannot wait for the team to drop the puck next fall.”
Tom Garrity officially introduced the new members of the Madison Capitols ownership, as well as formally introducing Steve Miller, who last month was named the team’s head coach and general manager, and Ed Chamberlain, who will serve as President for Madtown Hockey and the Capitols.
“Today is a wonderful day for hockey in Madison, Wisconsin,” said Garrity a native of Prairie du Chein, Wisconsin and a University of Wisconsin-Platteville graduate. “This area has always supported hockey at all levels. Fans will enjoy the USHL and its style of play. Our ownership group has a strong desire and goal to give fans a winning product on the ice and a total entertainment experience from start to finish. At the same time, we are proud to continue with the Madison Capitols name as it has a rich hockey tradition and significance in this area. We will also be active community participants to help grow the game of hockey at all levels.”
As the managing partner of Madtown Hockey, LLC, Garrity brings a wealth of experience in the USHL, professional sports, and collegiate athletics. He has worked for several high profile professional sports organizations and leagues at a senior level. Garrity is the founder and CEO of Quan Sports Marketing in Stillwater, Minnesota and also President/CEO of the Sioux Falls Sports, LLC, which owns and operates the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede and the Sioux Falls Canaries of the Northern League Baseball.
“We’re excited to bring the USHL to one of the Midwest’s greatest cities and hockey communities,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince. “Madison’s ownership and senior management have already proven themselves to be innovative, focused, and committed to making ‘Hockey Night’ at the Alliant Energy Center a must-see event. We’re counting down the days until a team with the Wisconsin state capital’s name on their sweater hits the home ice. This will be special.”
During its first era in the USHL, the Madison Capitols won over 200 games in its 11 seasons. A total of 12 USHL players who played in Madison would go on to be selected in the NHL Draft, in addition to numerous players that would earn NCAA Division I opportunities. Former NHL defenseman Brian Rafalski spent the 1990-91 season in the USHL with the Madison Capitols before staying in town to play collegiately at the University of Wisconsin. He would then embark on an 11-year NHL career that included winning three Stanley Cups, the most by any USHL alum. Derek Plante was part of the Madison team for the 1988-89 season and would become the second-ever USHL alum to win the Stanley Cup when he did so in 1999 with the Dallas Stars.
Several former Madison players have gone on to successful coaching careers, including current Team USA head coach Don Granato who also had a coaching stint with the team during the 1993-94 season. Mark Osiecki played with the Capitols in 1986-87 before his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin. He would return to the USHL as head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers (1997-2004). Mike Corbett played two USHL seasons in Madison (1990-92), and after spending the last decade on the coaching staff at the Air Force Academy, he is in his first season as head coach at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
Additional announcements will be made in the coming weeks, including the unveil of an official logo, team colors, and uniforms. The team has launched several media platforms, including a website, www.MapCapsHockey.com, a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MadCapsHockey, and a Twitter account, www.twitter.com/MadCapsHockey
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)