08/20/2008 2:43 PM
Article By: Mike Peck
Front office leader steps down after eight seasons
Rockford, Ill.- Rockford IceHogs Team President Ryan Washatka announced on Wednesday that he is resigning from his position with the American Hockey League club. Washatka has accepted a position outside of hockey and he will remain with the team until Sept. 21.
After joining the IceHogs staff as assistant general manager prior to the 2000-01 season, Washatka was promoted to general manager of the United Hockey League club in 2002-03. The University of Kansas graduate held the position until the team moved to the AHL prior to last season and then served as the team’s president and governor during its inaugural AHL campaign in 2007-08.
Under Washatka’s watch, the IceHogs have become an integral part of the Rockford community. During Washatka’s six-year tenure at the helm of the IceHogs, the club averaged 3,767 fans per game. Seven out of the IceHogs top 10 all-time attended games came during Washatka’s stint as GM/President of the team.
“Ryan has always been a very integral part of the IceHogs success in this community,” said Corey Pearson, General Manager of the Rockford MetroCentre. “His hard work and dedication to making hockey an exciting and powerful attraction to Rockford was especially demonstrated as we made a smooth transition from the UHL to the AHL. We are sincerely sad to see him leave the IceHogs, but we are delighted he will remain in our community. We wish him nothing but continued professional and personal success.”
Washatka, along with former team owners Dr. Kris Tumilowicz and Craig Drektrah, helped establish the IceHogs Charitable Foundation during the 2006-07 season. The team has helped raise nearly $400,000 since Washatka took over in 2003 with all proceeds benefiting the Rockford community. Washatka has helped foster the Jr. IceHogs youth hockey program with the Rockford Park District which has seen significant increases in participation since its inception.
Other accomplishments attained by Washatka during his term with the IceHogs include the UHL’s General Manager of the Year following the 2004-05 season, UHL’s Marketing Director of the Year in 2002-03 and the IceHogs were twice named the UHL’s Member Club (2004-05 and 2005-06). Under Washatka’s watch the IceHogs also claimed the UHL’s Colonial Cup Championship following the 2006-07 season.
The IceHogs released the following statement from Washatka:
It has been my pleasure to lead the Rockford IceHogs for the past six seasons and into this new era of American Hockey League hockey. This organization has been through a lot and continues to persevere. With the help of our staff, players and great fans we have been able to meet and surpass all the expectations set forth in 1999.
I am excited for the future that awaits the IceHogs and IceHogs hockey will always hold a special place in my heart. I am very proud of our 2006-07 championship and helping to orchestrate our inception into the AHL and affiliation with the Chicago Blackhawks. A great opportunity has presented itself that allows me to remain in Rockford and be able to spend more time with my family.
I would personally like to thank all of our fans, sponsors, present and past players, staff members and ownership for their dedication to the IceHogs and making it a true success story.