RiverHawks GM fired after lackluster start

Gilles Richard: GM was fired after three losses and poor turnout for the first two games contested at James Brown Arena.

Augusta RiverHawks owner Bob Kerzner confirmed Thursday that the front office of his minor league hockey team has undergone a major overhaul after a disappointing turnout in the team's season-opening weekend.

 

Kerzner said he has released Gilles Richard as general manager and has hired Mark Richards as the new front office leader. Richards will take over Nov. 1, and new sales positions and other staff additions will also be made to the front office.

"Like a coach makes changes with his players when he doesn't see the results he's looking for, I've made some changes this week," Kerzner said. "I like Gilles, but at the end of the game and business, results count."

The first-year RiverHawks, who play at home tonight, have drawn the fewest number of fans per game within the eight-team Southern Professional Hockey League since it opened the 2010-11 season last week. James Brown Arena saw only 2,542 fans at the home opener last Friday and 1,622 on Saturday.

Richard's firing came just three games into the 56-game season and less than 10 months after he was introduced as the franchise's first general manager at a news conference in February.

Richard said he was "extremely disappointed" by the firing.

"This is a city that likes to build relationships before it jumps in with two feet on anything," Richard said. "It feels like I didn't have a full opportunity to achieve the goals set for the staff and the team.

"There's a lot of good people in Augusta that care about hockey, and I'll miss those people."

The 41-year-old Richards resigned last week from his position in the newly created Federal Hockey League, where he was the general manager of the New York Aviators. The league began its inaugural season Thursday night.

Richards served as head coach and general manager for the Kerzner-owned Pee Dee Cyclones and Twin City Cyclones from 2005 to 2009.

Kerzner, who said before the season he'd like to lead the league in attendance, said Richards will be in town today to begin his efforts to increase interest in the team.

"We met for four hours yesterday with the new GM," Kerzner said. "He's got the go-ahead to hire more office people and more sales people."

Head coach Brad Ralph shook up his roster earlier this week, releasing three players and adding two others in the wake of the team's 0-3 start. The RiverHawks will play host to Fayetteville (1-2) tonight and Columbus (0-2) on Saturday night at James Brown Arena.

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