Jordan Kuhns: Director of Media Relations & Broadcaster for the Swamp Rabbits
A lot has changed since March 11, 2020, the day that the Greenville Swamp Rabbits’ season abruptly ended due to the coronavirus pandemic. New ownership, a new head coach and new players headline the new direction that the team is heading.
While there has been direction from the new ownership group as far back as March, Spire Sports + Entertainment officially purchased the Swamp Rabbits organization on May 15. Todd Mackin, a nominee for top executive in the ECHL this past season, took over as team president, and has begun a culture revolution with the Swamp Rabbits.
“We strive to be a flagship franchise in the ECHL,” Mackin said. “The Greenville market is incredible. While we understand that Greenville is a non-traditional market, if we provide a fun, fast-paced, entertaining product, we feel we can captivate the community, grow the sport, and provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment.”
New Head Coach
It started with the hiring of head coach Andrew Lord on June 19. He brings nine championship titles, a 221-75-22 record, and a track record of a top-notch player culture from the Cardiff Devils of the Elite Ice Hockey League across the pond in the United Kingdom.
“We knew what we were looking for in a leader—a hard-working, detail-oriented, passionate, cultural fit for our organization,” Mackin said of Lord. “I can guarantee that we will not be outworked with Andrew behind the bench, and that our team will be prepared and disciplined.”
The South Division of the ECHL is known for being tough. Just three standings points separated third-place Greenville from fifth-place Orlando when the 2019–20 season concluded, meaning the margin between being in the playoffs and out of the playoffs was razor thin.
“Everyone else is competitive. There are some very experienced coaches, and some deep teams,” Lord said. “We need to focus on ourselves first and foremost. We need to get the culture right. We need to bring in the right people. We need to make sure we’re checking the boxes in terms of talent and how it all meshes together.”
Fan safety and security is priority as the new season is planned
Preparations are underway to get the 2020–21 season started as safely as possible. Major League Baseball, the NHL, the NBA and MLS have all started, or restarted, their seasons with no fans in attendance. At this level, fans are the lifeblood of the operation. Making sure the safety and security of the fans and players is top of mind.
The ECHL Board of Governors continue to meet throughout the offseason to make sure the season can unfold in a safe way for everyone. Staying within federal and state guidelines will be key for every team to make the upcoming season a success.
Commitment to the Upstate Community Remains Strong
Things may look and feel different when the upcoming season starts, but it will be a welcome return for the Swamp Rabbits, who are looking to make waves on the ice, and off the ice, as the team has been strongly infused into the community, even in the past four months.
Most notably, during the month of July, the Swamp Rabbits teamed up with Loaves and Fishes, the Greater Greenville Hockey Association and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena to hold the Cans for Kids food drive, which collected 1,500 pounds of food and over $1,600 in donations for Loaves and Fishes to continue to serve those in need throughout the Upstate.
The Swamp Rabbits also helped with Meals On Wheels, and worked with Papa John’s Pizza to donate pizza to the Greenville Police Department. Stomper made his presence known during the Rotary Club of the Reedy River’s virtual 2020 Duck Derby. This is just the beginning of the footprint that the Greenville Swamp Rabbits have planned under new leadership.
“We decided to utilize the phrase ‘Rabbits Rising’ to let the Upstate know we’re for real, and we want to rise up and be a force to be reckoned with,” Mackin said. “We’re going to rise to the occasion on the ice, and we’re going to rise to the occasion in the community. We’ll do it the right way, and we feel that we’ll make our community proud in the process.”
The rise to prominence has begun. Every moment that passes is one moment closer to dropping the puck on an unforgettable season ahead.
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