Troy Loney won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and played 12 NHL seasons before retiring in 1995.
Now, almost two decades later, he’s about to get into a different side of the hockey business.
Loney and his wife Aafke will be announced as partial owners of the Youngstown (Ohio) Phantoms junior hockey team on Thursday morning, a source familiar with the situation told City of Champions.
The Phantoms are in the midst of their fifth season in the United States Hockey League, which is considered the top-tier junior-level circuit in America. The USHL differentiates itself from the Canadian major-junior leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) by allowing its players to maintain NCAA eligibility.
Phantom Fireworks founder Bruce Zoldan has served as owner and CEO of the Phantoms since their inception as a North American Hockey League franchise in 2003. The team stepped up to the USHL as an expansion team for the 2009-10 season, making Youngstown’s Covelli Centre its home.
According to the source, the Loneys will also take over day-to-day operations of the franchise, duties that have previously been under the control of Zoldan and his subordinates.
The Loneys’ Phantoms connection began in 2010, when their son Ty joined the team late in its first USHL campaign. Ty, now a junior forward at the University of Denver, played 71 games for Youngstown before moving on to college hockey.
Troy, 50, was selected by the Penguins in the third round of the 1982 NHL Draft. He went on to play 624 regular-season NHL games – 533 of which with Pittsburgh – scoring 197 points in the process. Loney played in every game of the 1991 and ’92 Stanley Cup playoffs, serving in a checking-line role as the Pens claimed back-to-back titles.
Loney was picked up by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 1993 expansion draft, then finished his playing career in 1995 with the Rangers and Islanders.
It’s on a much smaller scale, but Loney joins old Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux as players-turned-owners.
UPDATE (10:15 a.m.) - The Loneys met the Youngstown-area press Thursday morning at the Covelli Centre.
Troy alluded to the Penguins’ grassroots efforts in western Pennsylvania and the Tri-State Area in describing the possible impact of his family managing the Phantoms.
“The Penguins are very excited about this,” Troy said. “They’re looking to grow hockey in the surrounding area.”
The Phantoms are still seeking a new long-term lease with the Covelli Centre, but Troy reiterated that he and his wife intend to pour every effort into helping junior hockey stick in the Mahoning Valley region.
“I’m looking forward to a long-term partnership,” he said. “We’re committed to this town, and growing the fan base here.”
UPDATE (2 p.m.) - City of Champions reporter Larry Snyder had the opportunity to chat with Aafke Loney about her planned role with the team, her husband’s desire to get back into hockey and how they intend to put their stamp on the franchise: